By Dan Hoard
CINCINNATI - Kevin Mouhon was one of Cincinnati’s most productive defensive ends last season, leading the team with 9.5 tackles-for-loss. But when the Bearcats opened spring practice under new head coach Luke Fickell, Mouhon took the field at linebacker where he had starred in high school.
The experiment lasted for one week.
“I was hoping to make the transition back to linebacker,” Kevin told me. “But we already had a lot of depth at linebacker and I spent last season at defensive end. So Coach Fickell talked to me and said, ‘I know the position just for you – jack linebacker.’ I really love the position.”
Here’s where it gets a little confusing. The “jack” linebacker is primarily a defensive end who has the ability to drop back in pass coverage.
“I think we put him back at his home,” said Fickell. “Some of our third down stuff gives him the ability to stand up and do some of those (linebacker) things, so he still has the ability to show what he can do. But I think he’s most natural with his hand on the ground going forward. After a week I kind of sat down and talked with him and told him that I thought he was one of our best 11 guys. He brings the things that we want – the effort and the energy. We want to put him at a position where I think he can be most successful.”
The return to defensive end puts Mouhon under the tutelage of new defensive line coach Al Washington who had the same title last year at Boston College. Under Washington, the Eagles finished second in the nation in sacks and sixth in tackles-for-loss.
“Mouhon is a very intelligent football player,” said Washington. “He has great instincts, he’s very explosive, and what we’re trying to do right now is develop the fundamentals so that he can become more consistent. I think he’s a first, second, and third down defensive end. Whatever you tell the kid to do, he’ll do it and I’m very excited to see his development.”
“I’m looking to have more TFLs and sacks this year and build on the repertoire of the things I can do,” said Mouhon.
Kevin is the younger brother of former UC defensive end Silverberry Mouhon and was one of the most highly-touted recruits to sign with Cincinnati in recent years. Kevin played in the prestigious Army All-American game following his senior year of high school and chose UC over Tennessee, Florida State, and Ohio State among others.
“All of that hype was just high school hype,” Mouhon told me. “That can have a negative impact on a player. When I came in I wasn’t really mature yet and that really took a toll on me. I wish I would have had a fresh start and not have come in the way that I came in. But I’m definitely more humble now and I’m just trying to make plays and build up my name again.”
And he’s confident that he’s been put in the right position on defense to do so.
“I was at linebacker at the beginning of camp, but Coach Fickell had a better idea for me with the jack linebacker spot,” said Mouhon. “I feel like I can make big plays at jack linebacker and help the team overall.”
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