Behind The Scenes Of Bearcat Football

Two key members of the Bearcats football program have never scored a touchdown or made a tackle, but without them and others the Bearcats football program would be a total mess during the spring and football season. Go behind the scenes of Bearcat football in this special story from BCI.

In addition to approximately 100 players, 10 coaches, 4 graduate/staff assistants, two administrative coordinators, several trainers, and a strength coach, there are also student managers working behind the scenes led by Jeff Hericks, the Bearcats' equipment manager.

Bearcat Insider's staff has gotten to know two of those managers fairly well over the years. They are Jeff Hummer and T. J. Weil. Both are local products from rival high schools. Jeff went to St. Xavier High School and is a senior at UC while T. J. went to Elder High School and is a junior.

We asked Jeff how he came to be a student manager at Cincinnati. "When I applied to my schools, I asked which ones offered scholarships to student managers because my head trainer in high school told me schools did that. Well, UC was the only school that offered me a scholarship so I came here." T.J. also got his start as a manager in high school and has no regrets. "My high school sophomore English teacher asked me if I was interested in being a manager because they had a guy graduating. I thought about it for a week, and then said I would. It's a good thing I did too because I got two state championship rings out of it."

JEFF HUMMER (L) - T.J. Weil (R)

According to Jeff, student managers don't begin with a full scholarship. He explained the process. "When you first start off, you get 50%. Then you get bumped up 25% each year after that." Jeff's had a full scholarship for the last two and a half years and will graduate this winter with a degree in criminal justice. In addition to the scholarship money, Jeff listed the other advantages to being a student manager. "It's been a lot of fun. You get to travel and go to places you probably would never get to see otherwise. You get to work with the football team and meet a lot of great guys. It's been a blast, and I'm going to miss it next year. This year‘s group of managers is a great group."

Although Jeff made it clear he'd recommend this experience to others, he also emphasized the hard work it entails. "We spend a minimum of 30-40 hours a week doing this. On game days we come in four hours before each game and leave two or three hours after the game. We're here an hour before practice to set up the field, and probably another hour after practice. Another of the down side is having to wake up really early for winter runs." T.J. added to Jeff's comments. "The hours we put in are tough. We pretty much work seven days a week. For road games, we load the truck on Thursday night and then have to be back here Sundays to meet and unload the truck so it's pretty much seven days a week." On Wednesday night the managers stay late to check equipment. They check every shoulder pad and helmet and make sure every lace and snap is in good condition.

Despite all the hard work, the managers get just as excited as everyone else on game day. T.J. explained. "I like game days and feel it's exciting. We're on the sidelines. We're not in the stands. We're in the midst of everything. The games couldn't run if we weren't there. We get the headsets ready for the coaches and make sure everything runs smoothly." Jeff talked about his personal excitement on game days. "I'm on the opponent's sideline spotting balls, and I've had the opportunity to stand next to Joe Paterno, Rich Rodriguez, and Jim Tressel. All these great coaches will go down in history." According to Jeff, standing on the opponents' sideline isn‘t always fun. "Most of the time, they're pretty nice, but the Louisville guys when we got clobbered by them gave us some crap, and I had some problems with some of the West Virginia guys. But most of the time they just joke with you."

Working with scholarship football players can be a bit tough since some have rather large egos. T.J. said that's not the case at Cincinnati. "The players treat us pretty well. Coach D made it a point at the first team meeting to say that if they disrespect the managers or trainers, they were also disrespecting him. And then he would come after them."

Being a manager can be a bit dangerous as Hummer found out last week when he got hit in the temple by a football and fell to the turf dazed and confused, but T.J. took the opportunity to have some fun with his co-worker. "I didn't see it. I was working on something at this end of the field, but I heard about it and cracked up laughing as soon as I heard about it." Hummer was quick to counter T.J.'s remark. "Let me clarify this. I may have gotten hit in the head, but at least I didn't get knocked out behind the wall when we were doing construction." T.J. then had to explain. "During construction last year or two years ago when they had the wall up as they were just starting to build the building behind us, I was behind the wall getting a field goal ball that was kicked over the wall. Next thing I know I get hit in the back of the head by another ball and knocked to the ground for a minute or two." Hummer really enjoyed hearing the story once again and said all the managers enjoy ribbing each other to relieve the stress of their work. T.J. said they have to have some fun at work because they have so little free time.

As Jeff prepares to graduate in a few months, he was asked what he'll remember most. "The travel and trips I've gotten to go on. Getting to go to New Orleans and playing in the Superdome. Going to Hawaii and getting to see all that." T.J. had a different perspective. "I've enjoyed the trips, but I'd have to say the friendships I'm making with the guys, coaches and especially Coach Dantonio. It's something I'll probably use throughout my life. So much today is about who you know so I may even have to call Coach Dantonio to help me get a job."

All the student managers put in incredibly long hours and do a great job, and these two young men have been great to us at Bearcat Insider. I know I'll miss seeing Jeff Hummer at spring practice next year, but we wish him the very best and look forward to working with T.J. for another season.


NOTE FROM BCI FOUNDER DAVE BERK

Hummer and T.J. are two of the many young people Tim and I have been given the chance to know while covering the Bearcats football program. While they don't score touchdowns or make game saving tackles, they work long hours with little recognition from those outside the team. I've always wanted BCI to be more than just stats, game stories or stories on those who put on the uniforms of the many Bearcat varsity sports. I want to thank all of the student managers and trainers for all the work they do and for making our job of covering the Bearcats even more enjoyable. The staff of Bearcat Insider wishes all of you the best this season.


Inside The Bearcats Top Stories

\r\n","mobileBody":"

In addition to approximately 100 players, 10 coaches, 4 graduate/staff assistants, two administrative coordinators, several trainers, and a strength coach, there are also student managers working behind the scenes led by Jeff Hericks, the Bearcats' equipment manager.

Bearcat Insider's staff has gotten to know two of those managers fairly well over the years. They are Jeff Hummer and T. J. Weil. Both are local products from rival high schools. Jeff went to St. Xavier High School and is a senior at UC while T. J. went to Elder High School and is a junior.

We asked Jeff how he came to be a student manager at Cincinnati. \"When I applied to my schools, I asked which ones offered scholarships to student managers because my head trainer in high school told me schools did that. Well, UC was the only school that offered me a scholarship so I came here.\" T.J. also got his start as a manager in high school and has no regrets. \"My high school sophomore English teacher asked me if I was interested in being a manager because they had a guy graduating. I thought about it for a week, and then said I would. It's a good thing I did too because I got two state championship rings out of it.\"

\"\"

JEFF HUMMER (L) - T.J. Weil (R)

According to Jeff, student managers don't begin with a full scholarship. He explained the process. \"When you first start off, you get 50%. Then you get bumped up 25% each year after that.\" Jeff's had a full scholarship for the last two and a half years and will graduate this winter with a degree in criminal justice. In addition to the scholarship money, Jeff listed the other advantages to being a student manager. \"It's been a lot of fun. You get to travel and go to places you probably would never get to see otherwise. You get to work with the football team and meet a lot of great guys. It's been a blast, and I'm going to miss it next year. This year‘s group of managers is a great group.\"

Although Jeff made it clear he'd recommend this experience to others, he also emphasized the hard work it entails. \"We spend a minimum of 30-40 hours a week doing this. On game days we come in four hours before each game and leave two or three hours after the game. We're here an hour before practice to set up the field, and probably another hour after practice. Another of the down side is having to wake up really early for winter runs.\" T.J. added to Jeff's comments. \"The hours we put in are tough. We pretty much work seven days a week. For road games, we load the truck on Thursday night and then have to be back here Sundays to meet and unload the truck so it's pretty much seven days a week.\" On Wednesday night the managers stay late to check equipment. They check every shoulder pad and helmet and make sure every lace and snap is in good condition.

Despite all the hard work, the managers get just as excited as everyone else on game day. T.J. explained. \"I like game days and feel it's exciting. We're on the sidelines. We're not in the stands. We're in the midst of everything. The games couldn't run if we weren't there. We get the headsets ready for the coaches and make sure everything runs smoothly.\" Jeff talked about his personal excitement on game days. \"I'm on the opponent's sideline spotting balls, and I've had the opportunity to stand next to Joe Paterno, Rich Rodriguez, and Jim Tressel. All these great coaches will go down in history.\" According to Jeff, standing on the opponents' sideline isn‘t always fun. \"Most of the time, they're pretty nice, but the Louisville guys when we got clobbered by them gave us some crap, and I had some problems with some of the West Virginia guys. But most of the time they just joke with you.\"

Working with scholarship football players can be a bit tough since some have rather large egos. T.J. said that's not the case at Cincinnati. \"The players treat us pretty well. Coach D made it a point at the first team meeting to say that if they disrespect the managers or trainers, they were also disrespecting him. And then he would come after them.\"

Being a manager can be a bit dangerous as Hummer found out last week when he got hit in the temple by a football and fell to the turf dazed and confused, but T.J. took the opportunity to have some fun with his co-worker. \"I didn't see it. I was working on something at this end of the field, but I heard about it and cracked up laughing as soon as I heard about it.\" Hummer was quick to counter T.J.'s remark. \"Let me clarify this. I may have gotten hit in the head, but at least I didn't get knocked out behind the wall when we were doing construction.\" T.J. then had to explain. \"During construction last year or two years ago when they had the wall up as they were just starting to build the building behind us, I was behind the wall getting a field goal ball that was kicked over the wall. Next thing I know I get hit in the back of the head by another ball and knocked to the ground for a minute or two.\" Hummer really enjoyed hearing the story once again and said all the managers enjoy ribbing each other to relieve the stress of their work. T.J. said they have to have some fun at work because they have so little free time.

As Jeff prepares to graduate in a few months, he was asked what he'll remember most. \"The travel and trips I've gotten to go on. Getting to go to New Orleans and playing in the Superdome. Going to Hawaii and getting to see all that.\" T.J. had a different perspective. \"I've enjoyed the trips, but I'd have to say the friendships I'm making with the guys, coaches and especially Coach Dantonio. It's something I'll probably use throughout my life. So much today is about who you know so I may even have to call Coach Dantonio to help me get a job.\"

All the student managers put in incredibly long hours and do a great job, and these two young men have been great to us at Bearcat Insider. I know I'll miss seeing Jeff Hummer at spring practice next year, but we wish him the very best and look forward to working with T.J. for another season.


NOTE FROM BCI FOUNDER DAVE \r\nBERK

Hummer and T.J. are two of the many young people Tim and \r\nI have been given the chance to know while covering the Bearcats football \r\nprogram. While they don't score touchdowns or make game saving tackles, they \r\nwork long hours with little recognition from those outside the team. I've \r\nalways wanted BCI to be more than just stats, game stories or stories on those \r\nwho put on the uniforms of the many Bearcat varsity sports. I want to thank all \r\nof the student managers and trainers for all the work they do and for making our \r\njob of covering the Bearcats even more enjoyable. The staff of Bearcat Insider \r\nwishes all of you the best this season.

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