As the Bearcats head into the 2007 season, they return seven starters
from a stout defense, but that defense lost some key contributors. Middle linebacker Kevin McCullough and
strong safety Dominic Ross have graduated after earning 1-st team All-Big East
recognition, and cornerback John Bowie was drafted in the 4-th round by the
Oakland Raiders. An unexpected loss
involved defensive end Trevor Anderson who decided to transfer after going
through spring practice, but despite the loss of
Leading the returnees on the defensive front is junior defensive tackle
Terrill Byrd. The Colerain product
received 1st team All-Big East recognition in 2006 despite ranking
11-th on the Cincinnati defense in tackles. Byrd is listed at 6' 1" (which is very
generous) and 270 pounds, and he has started every game since stepping onto the
Returning as the starting tackle opposite Byrd is junior Adam Hoppel. The ex-state wrestling champ eventually claimed Tony Carvitti's job after Tony's knee injury last season, and Adam held onto the job after having a good spring. Hoppel is only 6' 2" and 275 pounds, but with the experience he gained last season, Adam should continue to improve.
At one defensive end, incumbent Anthony Hoke returns for his senior season. Anthony's 5.5 sacks last season were 2-nd on the squad to Trevor Anderson's 6. Hoke is the smallest of the defensive linemen at 6' 1"/230 pounds, but the Warren G. Harding product can be very disruptive and difficult to block. This should be his third season as a starter.
The other defensive end position is up for grabs after
Although not on the current roster, Curtis Young could be rejoining the squad in early August if he takes care of some academic work. Young would become an immediate contended for the vacant defensive end job if he returns. Curtis played some defensive tackle and some defensive end last season before leaving the squad prior to the International Bowl.
Another defensive tackle that will see some playing time is senior Jon Newton (6' 3"/275). The Roger Bacon grad needs only two more credits to graduate but chose to return for his fifth season. Jon has been a starter on the defensive line in the past and will provide valuable depth if he doesn't win a starting job. He says he's in the best shape of his life and ready to contribute.
Sophomore Ricardo Mathews (6' 3"/270) heads into summer practice as a back-up at defensive tackle after seeing very limited playing time last season and recording 2 tackles in 9 games. Mathews has great potential and could even play defensive end if needed.
In a surprise but interesting move in the offseason, Marcus Waugh (5'
10"/250) has been moved to defensive tackle. Waugh came to
Chris Harrison (6' 4"/275) redshirted last season as a true freshman, but
the kid from
Redshirt sophomore Tyler Clifford (6' 4"/240) hasn't played a down in two
seasons, but that could change this year.
Clifford has taken some time to get physically and mentally ready, but
the high school coach's kid is smart and tough. He will be in the mix to earn time as a
back-up this season. By the way,
Tyler and his father, who coached him in high school, made the trip to see the
Bearcats at the Fort Worth Bowl just prior to
Freshman Ralston Reeves (6' 3"/250) greyshirted last year which means he
didn't enroll until winter quarter and will have all five years of eligibility
remaining. Ralston reported for
summer practice last year but was slow to recover from knee surgery so it was
decided that he would return to
Three true freshman come to the program with good
credentials. John Hughes (6'
3"/265) has been on campus since June and will apparently begin his Bearcat
career as a defensive tackle. He
also played tight end in high school and played in the Big 33 all-star
game. Randy Martinez (6' 2"/245)
never wavered from his commitment to the