Bearcat Insider had the chance to speak with the Bearcats top tight end Brent Celek.

Conference USA recognized Brent Celek last season as a 2nd team all-conference performer.  I think he's destined for even greater recognition as this sophomore continues his career at the University of Cincinnati.

Brent committed to the Bearcats after his junior season at LaSalle High School. He knew he wanted to stay close to home and was already a Bearcat fan so it just made sense to commit.  "I knew I wanted to stay close to home so my family, friends, and old coaches could come watch me play.  I have several brothers and sisters, and my family is very important to me so when UC offered, I accepted."

Many freshmen get redshirted so they can physically mature, but Brent's 6' 5" frame was thrown to the wolves his freshman season.  "It was tough.  I was only 225 pounds and much weaker than I am now.  The strength part is such a big deal in college, and the game is so much faster.  I'm trying to use better technique now and get my hands and feet going.  I know I still need to get stronger.  I want to get to the point where I can throw people around."

Bearcat fans will like Brent's response to which games are the biggest next season.  "I'd say Miami and Louisville are the big games because we have a rivalry with both of them.  Miami recruited me, but we don't really care to much for those guys.  After what happened last year at Louisville, that left a bad taste in my mouth.  They rubbed it in, and they know it."  I asked about the accusations that Bearcat players deliberately stomped on the cardinal logo before the game.  "That wasn't anything new.  We got together like that before every game." 

Some have suggested that the Bearcat locker room has Minter guys and Dantonio guys, but Brent refutes that.  "I almost hate to say it, but it (the coaching change) was a change for the better.  Coach Dantonio is more of a family guy, and so am I so I like that.  It's kind of like he cares more about us as people.  He's keeping the coaches here too.  There isn't any problem in the locker room."

Since Brent played at LaSalle, I asked about a couple of Lancers that were recruited by UC.  Rodney Pompey was an offensive tackle that verbally committed to UC at one point.  "Rodney was at Saturday's practice.  I think they want him to get his weight down before they offer him."  I also asked about last year's rumor that Ryan Stanchek was unhappy at West Virginia and interested in transferring to UC.  " I don't know where that got started.  I talked to Ryan, and he's happy at West Virginia and fighting for a starting position at guard."

Despite the loss of so many talented seniors, Brent is optimistic about next season.  "I was concerned a little after last season, but now I love this team.  I think we'll play as a team since we don't really have any stars.  Actually, I prefer playing on a team that doesn't have stars, but everyone really plays together."

Last season at Syracuse, Brent made a TD reception that was one of the best a fan will ever see.  I asked him to describe the catch.  "I felt like I was getting held.  I watched Gino and tried to hold the defender with my right arm.  I stuck my left hand out and brought in the ball.  Gino said he threw it because he thought the refs would call interference on Syracuse, but it didn't matter because I caught it."

Although Brent's usually busy with his own drills at practice, he does catch balls from the four quarterbacks.  I got his impression of the QB competition.  "I think it's really tight right now.  I don't see everything they do, but I think someone will emerge and be a leader before the end of spring."

Student/athlete is a term that fits Brent perfectly.  He ‘s a business major that consistently makes the dean's list.  Last quarter Brent had a 3.86.  Brent may need that business degree in the next two years when he finds his job, but I believe that job will be on Sunday afternoons in the NFL.

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