Heard it From Hoard: Column 83
I am a billionaire with a thick head of hair who is frequently confused for George Clooney.
Except when people are telling me I'm a dead ringer for Brad Pitt.
OK, none of that is true, but if Brian Kelly said it you would probably believe it.
I'm not saying that UC's head football coach is dishonest - I'm saying that he is a phenomenal salesman.
His sales ability has helped the Bearcats pack Nippert Stadium and lure many of the area's top recruits. And this spring, it's helped him convince some outstanding offensive players to try the other side of the field.
"It's a constant evaluation of strengths and weaknesses and trying to get the most out of the individuals," Coach Kelly told me recently. "We can't trade 'em, we can't cut 'em, so we've got to find ways to get the most out of 'em."
So the school record holder for touchdown catches in a season - Marcus Barnett - is now penciled in as a starting cornerback. And perhaps the most highly decorated high school player to ever attend Cincinnati - Demetrius Jones - has moved from quarterback to linebacker.
"Clearly Tony Pike was going to be a starter and I was very happy with Chazz Anderson as a backup," Kelly said. "We need to get a kid like Demetrius on the field. Is he a wide receiver? Probably not - he doesn't have the speed. Is he a safety? Well, with Aaron Webster and Drew Frey back, it seemed to me that the outside linebacker position gave him the best chance of playing for us. Over the last week he's embraced that role, and he can make us a better football team by being on the field instead of the sideline."
"I've always had to do this," Kelly continued. "I started at the Division II level where there's always a worm in the apple. You just have to turn the apple away so you don't see the worm. That's my analogy for moving guys around to fit their positions."
Coach Kelly admits that he had to do some selling to get Jones to give linebacker a shot. And while Connor Barwin's success last season after switching from tight end to defensive end certainly helped him make his case, his secret sales weapon is the other players.
"Demetrius did not see himself as a linebacker until he had some success and a number of players came up to him and said, 'Hey, you can play this position,' Kelly said. "It has to come not only from the head coach saying this is in the best interest of the team - I think you've got to see yourself having success at the position. I don't think we had Demetrius fully vested into it until he had a really good scrimmage and I think he now sees himself as a linebacker."
Fans who attend Bearcat Bowl III will certainly be paying close attention to how Barnett and Jones fare on defense, and should also keep an eye on Marcus Waugh who is moving from fullback to middle linebacker. Could one of them repeat Barwin's feat of being named First Team All-Big East is their first year on defense?
"I think my background in Division II has helped me, but they don't all turn out to be Connor Barwin," Kelly told me. "I understand that going in, and if we think we've made a mistake on moving a kid, we'll certainly move him back to where he's best suited."
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I received a wonderful surprise a few days ago when the executive assistant of Reds COO Phil Castellini called me to see if I could fill-in for Marty Brennaman for three days next week.
Yea, I think I can swing that.
Marty will be attending the 50th anniversary celebration of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (he is a member of its Hall of Fame) and I feel privileged to keep his seat warm.
I'll work with Jeff Brantley in Pittsburgh May 1-3 and I'm really excited to get another "cup of coffee" in the big leagues. I hope you'll give us a listen on the Reds radio network and 700 WLW.
I'd love to hear from you. The address is email@example.com.
Enjoy this week's photo of the handsome lad enjoying a tasty bowl of oatmeal.