The quality grade is based on the caliber of athlete the Bearcats got for each position and the quantity grade is based on how the Bearcats did in meeting their needs.
DEFENSIVE LINE: With the loss of Trent Cole and Andre Frazier at the end positions, the defensive line will be one of great concern for the Bearcats in 2005. Coach Dantonio and his staff addressed this need with a solid group of players that will get a chance to play the day they report. Taking six players in this area addresses the team's needs and shows the staff expects a lot from this group early.
If you thought I was high on the quarterbacks brought in for this class, I'm even more excited about these six players. So here are my breakdowns and grades on each and as a whole.
Trevor Anderson: Thoughts of Trent Cole will dance in your head when you talk about Trevor. Trevor has long arms and a great burst off the line. In high school he lined up both inside and outside, look for him to be a defensive end for the Bearcats and a very good one. Considered one of the Top 15 players in the whole state of Michigan, Anderson is a steal for the Bearcats. Grade: A+
Terrill Byrd: Every time I see Terrill play I'm amazed by what he does. A hard worker with a great motor, Byrd may not have the height college coaches look for, but what he lacks in height he will make up for in technique and strength. Stays low off the ball and knows how to use his hands. Terrill has great leg drive and the speed to catch backs out of the backfield. Has several moves and reminds me of Warren Sapp. Has the size and strength to play from day one. Grade: A+
Thomas Claggett: Has long arms and a great motor. Thomas will be a main stay on the defensive line for the next four years. Member of the All-Metro Golden 11, That honor would equal a player from Ohio being All-Quad State (Penn, Oh, Ky, Mi) Thomas could have played in the ACC or against the Bearcats in the Big East. Only area that Claggett needs work is staying lower. This is common with high school players who play against smaller players. On tape he didn't do it all the time only here and there. Shows a great burst that allows him to go from sideline-to-sideline and make plays. Grade: A+
Tyler Clifford: Has shown he's got the motor to play at the next level. Clifford doesn't stop his pursuit until the play is over. Not as athletic as the others listed above, but can hold his own. On film Clifford looks slower that Claggett, Byrd and Anderson. His work in the Bearcat weight program will be the difference as to when he hits the field. Could see special teams play as a freshman. Grade: C+
Patrick Mimms: Teammate of Claggett, Mimms has long arms and is very good in keeping feet. Doesn't over pursue and is quick off the edge. Already has weight in line for next level. Can run and could play as a true freshman. Sometimes gets high, but is able to use shoulders to get an edge against bigger offensive linemen. Grade: A
Curtis Smith: One of the Top 10 players in Ohio. Smith brings great athletic ability and drive. Has bounce to his step that will carry over in his play. He will bring a great speed rush off the edge and is strong enough to support the run. Smith is athletic enough that he could line up and play linebacker if needed. Forget about him losing a star, this kid is a play maker and will continue to be one at the next level. Grade: A+
Quality Grade A+: Take your pick as to who the main player will be from these six. This is the deepest defensive line group I have seen at any college for a long time. The Bearcats should be in good shape up front for the next four years. With the loss of some great talent Coach Dantonio made defense a priority and picked up the main pieces needed. When UC plays the likes of West Virginia and Syracuse they will match-up well to defend their spread runs. All six of these players are no worse than a 4.7 40, with most being in the 4.6 range. All can chase a ball carrier and make life hard for quarterbacks.
Quantity Grade A+: This was an area of need for the Bearcat defense. Look for almost all of these players to see playing time this coming season. They will suffer some growing pains, but in the future I see All-Big East performers who will help power the Bearcats defense towards a BCS game. What makes these six players even more useful is their ability to play inside and outside. All of them have motors and play with a chip on their shoulders. The future looks bright for the Bearcats defensive front.