While Wednesday night didn't end the way Bearcat fans, players or coaches had planned, it was still a big night for the program as a whole. During each home game this season, several recruiting targets have made visits to the Cincinnati campus and taken in Bearcat football games. Wednesday night was no different as even more top quality prospects traveled to Nippert Stadium to watch the Bearcats take on West Virginia.
In putting this together I looked at what prospect should lead this list of who visited. But when I got done taking a look at the list of players I spoke with, it was very hard in picking the number one player. So what I did was look at who surprised me the most in being at the game. While seeing offensive lineman Lee Tilley was a surprise, it wasn't the biggest surprise for me. So who was the biggest surprise? Let's look.
The biggest surprise came when I came across 4-star tight end / defensive end Jeff Cumberland. The 6'4 221 lb. athletic freak from Columbus Brookhaven High School (Columbus, Ohio) tore up the Akron Scout.com combine back in May. With great size and the speed of a receiver, programs have been looking hard with Penn State, Michigan and Minnesota all having offered. How impressive was Cumberland this past spring? Many of the recruiting experts who ran all of the combines across the country felt Cumberland was the best they saw.
HT: 6'4 WT: 221 40: 4.47
If you would like to view some of Scout.com video of Jeff Cumberland click on the highlighted text of Jeff's name and go to his personal page. Roll down towards the bottom and on the left hand side there are three video clips.
The next big surprise also comes from Columbus Brookhaven High School. Mark Jackson joined his teammate at the game Wednesday night and would be another top prospect for the Bearcats to land. With great size 6'5 300 lb. the versatile offensive linemen would find a great future with the Bearcats. With offers from Michigan State, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Akron, Jackson could line up at any of the five offensive line positions.
Offensive Line Prospect Mark Jackson
While not taking a backseat to anyone in Ohio this year, our next surprise came in the form of Franklin Heights offensive lineman Lee Tilley. It was believed by many Tilley was ready to give his verbal commitment of LSU just a week ago, but in talking with the 6'6 310 lb. tackle he expressed he's still looking at what school will be best for him. With too many offers to mention, Tilley still has interest from many top BCS programs and has not said when he will give his verbal.
The next top prospect I came across was quarterback Nate Davis. At first I didn't realize it was Davis. Bundled up in a winter coat and hat, Davis almost went unnoticed on the sidelines before the game. It was my belief the Bearcats hadn't offered a quarterback so far, but from comments during Coach Dantonio's radio show on Thursday night, I've got the feeling they have now offered Davis.
What does Davis bring to the Bearcats? It's my opinion that Davis is the best quarterback in Ohio this year. While other have received more press, Davis just impresses everyone who's had the chance to see him play. With great physical skills (arm strength, size, speed) Davis would give the Bearcats great depth at the quarterback position for several years to come.
With Bellaire High School still in the playoffs, Davis making a weeknight visit shows his interest in the Bearcats. I've watched Davis during a 7-on-7 this summer and was very impressed with his understanding of the game and his ability to be a leader. Davis has offers from Ball State, Bowling Green, Toledo, Indiana to go with the only offer Bearcat fans want to know about.
As I've been saying for several weeks, it was going to take a special quarterback for the Bearcats to make an offer to one with all the talent already in the program.
Defensive prospect Lamar Mapp also attended the West Virginia game. It's felt by many Mapp will accept a Bearcats offer if given.
Another prospect to make the game on Wednesday is also from Brookhaven High School. Anthony Harris is another in a long line of Brookhaven athletes who will sign with a college to play football in this class. With only one offer in hand at this time (Illinois) Harris projects to play safety at the next level and could play into the Bearcats plans as they look for more athletes to compete on the defensive side of the ball.
Another Brookhaven prospect that doesn't get much talk is quarterback Mike McGee. While Mike is not projected to play quarterback at the next level, his athletic ability may allow some program to look at him as a safety prospect. With no offers at this time, the leader of Brookhaven's 2004 State Championship team hopes to follow in the footsteps of several current and former Brookhaven athletes.
While many prospects were making their first visits with the Bearcats, two of the current verbal commitments in the Class of 2006 were on hand. Toby Boeckman made the trip from St. Henry and Jacob Ramsey from Columbus.
Bearcats Verbal Commitment Toby Boeckman
Bearcats Verbal Commitment Jacob Ramsey
Also on hand were several other prospects with hopes of earning a Bearcats offer. One player who impressed coaches during summer camp was Dustin Winters of Gallia Academy in Gallipolis, Ohio. The fullback / linebacker prospect showed he's got the skills this past summer, but may come up short with the Bearcats. Dustin does have an offer now to Virginia Military Academy and should see more schools in the D-I and I-AA level make offers before it's all said and done.
Another player who has attended a couple of games this year and has great interest in UC is Lakota West tight end Eric Monroe. At 6'6 Monroe is the type of player the Bearcats could look at to play tight end or bulk up and play along the offensive line if they were to offer.
Taylor Price has been no stranger to the Bearcats coaching staff this past year. The 6'1 Hillard Darby cornerback has visited the campus a couple of times this season. While he's only received one offer from Akron, he may start seeing other programs take notice of his 4.29 40 time he posted at Ohio State Senior Advance Camp.
Another prospect from the Class of 2007 made a returned for the West Virginia game. While it wasn't a surprise to see Cincinnati La Salle offensive lineman Garrett Celek in attendance, it's good to know the Bearcats program may have the inside track on the younger brother of Bearcat tight end Brent Celek.
La Salle Offensive lineman Garrett Celek
While it's too early to look at Celek, he's shown the ability to block at a very high level in high school and should be consider an early target for the staff.