Of all the players that signed with the Bearcats I have seen film of all of them. From that group I have seen multiple films from their junior and senior years on 14 of them. Out of those 14, I have seen 8 of them play in person during their high school career both junior and senior years.
I'm not new when it comes to breaking down film and giving my opinion of a player. In fact I have been doing it for the past four years. I not a big fan of the star system, I learned first hand that most people who follow recruiting don't do more than look at one film if any at all.
Ask Andre Revels, I have been following his career for the past two years. Ask Mike Mickens, I have seen every game he's played for the past two seasons. I try to form my own opinion on a player. There were several top (4 & 5 Star) players that I'm glad are not going to be wearing the Red & Black of the Bearcats.
In fact for those who don't know me, I have a brother who went through the recruiting process. He was recruited by Notre Dame, Michigan State, Kentucky, Maryland, Iowa, West Virginia, Cincinnati and many other schools. He was a NR (non-ranked) player with only one star. While the so called recruiting experts said he was only a one star, college coaches called like crazy trying to get him on their campus. By the time it was all said and done he started 34 games and earned All-Big East (2nd Team - JR. 1st Team -SR.) for West Virginia. He's now working out in Cincinnati and getting ready for his chance at the NFL.
During the past few years I have found many hidden gems. Hidden Gems are fun to find. Because many of the so-called recruiting experts have a home school, they look more at the kids who are looking at their school and the ones that pick their school get more props. But it's never fails. A kid they didn't have very high gets an offer from their school and they start calling me for their phone number and all of a sudden their star rating goes up. A great example in the Class of 2005 is Curtis Smith. Smith was a 4-star prospect for almost the entire year. He then picks UC and drops to a 3-star. Make sense? Not to me.
There only a few people I trust who are in the field of recruiting. One is a gentleman by the name of John McCallister. John gets out to the camps and combines. You don't see his information on any web-site because he deals direct with the colleges. The other is Scout.com Big East expert Bob Lichtenfels. I have been working with Bob for the past year and I know what he does. He works and he doesn't have a school that he's a homer for.
In breaking down the players Coach Dantonio and his staff brought in, I see classic hard-nosed football players. Many had offers from other programs that are in the Big East, ACC and Big Ten. Many of these offers were not talked about because the kid didn't get out to the main combines around the country and none of the recruiting people had their phone number. So don't be surprised when these players become a big part of the Bearcat program.
But when looking at my grades remember there based on what I feel the athlete can do while in the Bearcat program. Did the player fit a need? Is the player the type of kid who will compete? Can the player play a different position if the one he was recruited for doesn't work out? Was the kid a team player during high school or one that only cared for himself? Those were the things I was looking for when giving out grades.
I then looked at the physical ability of the player. What the kids talents were and if he used those talents on a constant basis.
As many know who follow college football, the odds of all of these players being starters are low. In fact there's a great chance by the time this class goes through UC two or three of them will no longer be in the program. That is college football. Be it grades, homesickness, not enough playing time or them just being tired of football. Some will never be players in the program. Trust me, it will happen.
But when I looked at this class I gave it high marks for the following reasons. It addressed the needs of the team as a whole. Several players can play multiple positions and all are very good athletes. Wait till you see how some of these players perform.
How many of you have seen Kazeem Alli catch a pass and run like a deer for a score? How many of you have seen Connor Barwin go up in a crowd and catch a pass? How many of you have seen Cedric Tolbert score on a big touchdown run? Or Marshwan Gilyard make some crazy cuts and go 70 yards for a score? I have. You will also be able to do that soon. I'm working on film of each player to put on the site. But to see it you will have to be a premium member. The players I speak about above and the rest of this class all have one thing in common. Respect! They are coming into UC with a chip on their shoulder to prove all the recruiting experts wrong. They are hungry for RESPECT!
As for how this class measures up with the rest of the Big East. I have followed the Bearcats program from the Minter era. Trust me when I tell you that Coach Dantonio and his staff have recruit much better than the previous staff.
I have also been following the Big East for the past five seasons. I have been to each stadium in the old Big East. I have seen first hand the type of players Pittsburgh, West Virginia and the other members in the conference have recruited during this time. This class is just as good as those others. The only team that got a "Stud Player" this year was West Virginia with running back Jason Gwaltney. Other than that everyone is equal. West Virginia has won back to back Big East titles with recruiting classes ranked by the so called experts in the 60-70 range.
I have seen 4-Star players come and go without being anything special. There is no way of telling what a kid's work ethic and heart are going to be as he gets older. You have to look deeper than just 40 times and bench presses. You have to look at the type of system they come from. You look at the previous kids that have come from the program and how they developed at the college level. You look at the soul of a kid and see if he has the hunger. I can tell you Terrill Byrd has the hunger.
The only people who get a chance to do this is the college staff. They work for a year or more in getting a player to their school. That's why it's important for this staff to stay together. They are working together in bringing top players into their system. A system that lives on kids becoming one. You saw what happened this past season after the Bearcats drop their game against Army. Many teams would have folded their tents and stuck their tail between their legs. But the Bearcats fought back and earned a bowl berth. That tells me these kids are buying into Coach Dantonio's system along with what his assistant coaches are teaching.
So don't base your grade on talent alone.
If you missed one of the grades, here are the links.