They say that of all the sports football is the one that requires the closest bond between its participants. Whether it is wide receivers and their quarterback, or a corner who has to rely on the fact that his safety is there to cover him deep, forging a bond between players is a must for any successful football program.
In 2005 the Bearcat football team will have a jump on the competition by bringing in a pair of high school teammates from Maryland to help stabilize the defensive line.
For defensive end Patrick Mimms (6-3 265) and defensive tackle Thomas Claggett (6-2 270) the transition from haunting the dreams of high school quarterbacks while at Frederick Douglass High to attempting to do the same at the collegiate level seems to be one in which they are looking forward.
"I am ready to come and play right now," said Claggett a member of the prestigious All-Metro Golden 11 in Maryland. "I mean, it looks like they could use some help on the defensive line and I think we can come in and help really soon."
The pair was found along with their families at last weekends spring football game and picnic.
"Man, even though it is cold out, I just want to play football," said Claggett. "Since the end of our season we have just been looking for any outlet for football we can find - we just love football."
The fact that the duo worked together at Fredrick Douglass is something they fell can really help them at the next level.
"The only transition is the level of competition," said Mimms with exuberance in his voice that suggested his desire to get out on the field and start chasing around running backs. "Some schools only had one or two good players, if any at all, so having played together we know how to play with other quality players."
The D-line will look to further gel cohesion between the high school teammates and their new partners in crime on the campus at Clifton this summer.
"Where we are from they really emphasize technique, so we are pretty solid in that regard," said Claggett about the coaching he received from his high school head coach J.C. Pinkney and staff over his previous four years. "It really is going to come down to strength and conditioning, putting on a little extra muscle and getting in shape, and getting to know our teammates this summer."
Both Claggett and Mimms are excited about coming into campus early to get their life as college football players started early.
"I mean, they gave us a strength and conditioning manual for us while we are at home, but nothing beats getting out on the field or in the weight room and just getting to know your teammates," said Mimms. "We also know that academics are a major part of college sports, and if you don't get the grades you are not going to play, so coming in early and getting to know what college work is like is important too."
Ultimately, Mimms sentiments towards the end of the interview should really make the UC fans excited about the next four years of Bearcat football: "I set high standards for myself -- we both do--and we want to come in and play right away.
Claggett mirrored Mimms enthusiasm about playing next season.
"I know [we] will have to wait [our] turn…but I am going to do my best to make sure they can't keep me on the bench too long."
Mimms and Claggett each realize the pressure the passionate UC football fans will place on the team, but both are willing to accept the high standards of the Bearcat faithful.
"We ultimately have the same expectations about having a winning program that the fans do. Winning is our goal, we are hear to win championships," said Mimms before Claggett chimed in. "I do not mind hearing my name called none," said a very confident Claggett. "If we go out there and do what we can do with the pads on we will all be happy."
With the switch to the Big East looming in the not too far off distance the Bearcats can only hope the confidence and self-assuredness shown on this page can translate to the gridiron.