Coach Mark Dantonio and his staff built a solid recruiting class that signed at the beginning of the month. While those players will become part of the team this fall, Coach Dantonio was busy laying the foundation for the Class of 2006 during the Bearcats first Junior Day.
Bearcat Insider tagged along with one of those juniors and has an inside report about the night.
With over 40 juniors invited from the local Cincinnati area, Coach Dantonio and his staff rolled out the red carpet for players and their guest.
The night started with players reporting to the Bearcats football office. Players were greeted at the door by several of the Bearcat coaches. Each player had to sign in and was given a questioner to fill out and give back to the coaches.
Once the majority of prospects had reported, Recruiting Coordinator Mark Staten took the floor and welcomed all who came. He wasted little time in getting to the point that this started the recruiting process for the players who were there. He then introduced Bearcat Head Coach Mark Dantonio who entered the room with a limp. Coach Dantonio had suffered a stress fracture during the day.
RECRUITING COORDINATOR MARK STATEN STARTED JR. NIGHT
Coach Dantonio explained about the "Vision" he and the university have for the future of the Bearcat Football. He told players there's more to being a Bearcat then just being a great athlete. He spoke about players being "Impact players" in building the Bearcat program into one of national prominence. While he told player they would be looked at as athletes, he also spoke about them being role models in their everyday life. He stressed the importance of academics and community service and how proud he was of this year's senior class that would be graduating in June. This year 22 out of 25 seniors will have their degree by June. He also spoke about the other three, and how they are only short of a few credit hours and are now preparing for the NFL Draft.
COACH DANTONIO SPEAKS WITH PARENTS AND PROSPECTS
Coach Dantonio also spoke about the draft and how UC has six players invited to the combine. With that number UC has the fourth most players invited in all of college football.
PARENTS AND PROSPECTS LISTEN TO COACH DANTONIO
Coach Dantonio then introduced members of his coaching staff. Each coach was brought up to the front as Coach Dantonio spoke about their background. This included Dave Andrews who is part of the strength staff and John Widecan who's in charge of the administrative responsibilities of the football program.
Coach Dantonio then introduced Bruce Ivory who oversees the Academic Services for the Bearcat football program. Mr. Ivory spoke about the importance of the student athlete earning their degree. He spoke of the programs in place to help student athletes in reaching this goal.
MR. BRUCE IVORY TALKS ABOUT BEING MORE THAN JUST AN ATHLETE
The one thing I took away from this trip was the importance the Bearcat staff has on education. It was talked about early and often during the night.
After Mr. Ivory spoke, Coach Staten informed each player they could go on a tour of the new facilities being built at the university. Breaking down into two groups, Bearcat coaches took the tour with the athletes.
What the athletes and parents saw was a future that will place UC Football and athletics above many major universities.
With items like a NBA style practice facility and a training facility second to none in college football, the Bearcat coaching staff is proud and excited about what the next year will bring them.
After the tour players and parents went into the current weight room. Once settled in, they were told about how everything they see in this room will not be going into the new weight room. All new equipment will be in place when the new training facilities are in place by the winter of 2006.
JOHN WIDECAN FOOTBALL ADMIN. COORDINATOR GAVE ONE OF THE TOURS
THIS AREA WILL BE THE TEAMS NEW MAIN MEETING ROOM
PROSPECT AARON BROWN ON TOUR WITH O-LINE COACH JEFF UHLENHAKE
WHEN FINISHED THIS WILL BE A HYDRO-TREADMILL POOL
I have to admit that several players and parents were impressed with everything they saw. During the tour I had the chance to speak with George Brown. George is the father of Aaron Brown who already has an offer from the Bearcats.
Mr. Brown had the following to say about what he and Aaron saw. "Aaron and I are really impressed with what were seeing tonight. We had no idea about everything UC is building. They are showing that they are taking their program to another level and will not be left behind by any school in the country. Having been to Ohio State in the past week, I can honestly say UC will be second to none when it comes to facilities. Aaron will now have to give UC serious consideration when the time comes for him to make his choice."
The junior night ended with players and coaches eating hot dogs, chips and cookies before it was time to enter the arena and watch the Bearcats destroy crosstown rival Xavier.
COACH STATEN TALKS WITH PARENTS AND PROSPECTS WHILE EATING
During the event all I heard were positive remarks about the coaching staff and what's hidden behind construction ropes surrounding the athletic facilities. I can honestly say having visited several college facilities during the past couple of years. The University of Cincinnati is headed for another level. This is not being done just in football, but all varsity sports played at the university.