BCI Talks to Mike Mickens

After Friday's practice at Nippert Stadium, Bearcat Insider spent a few minutes with Cincinnati's All American cornerback, Mike Mickens.

Despite being only a junior, Mike Mickens has already taken his spot among the top all time cornerbacks in Cincinnati's history. Mickens tied a half dozen other Bearcats for most interceptions in a season when he got six this year and can still break the record with a swipe in the Papajohns.com Bowl. The three most recent Bearcats to get that many picks in one year all ended up with professional careers in the NFL. As a three year pro, Daven Holly is currently a starting cornerback with the Cleveland Browns while Blue Adams is in his fourth year in the league and his first as a back-up corner with the Cincinnati Bengals. Safety Sam Garnes enjoyed a seven year professional career with the New York Giants and New York Jets until retiring after the 2003 season.

The Cincinnati record for career interceptions belongs jointly to Blue Adams and Jocelyn Borgella with a dozen each. Borgella also played in the NFL for three seasons in the mid-90's. Mickens currently sits in fourth place with ten picks.

What makes Mickens arguably the best cornerback in the over 100 year history of Bearcat football is his overall resume and not just his interceptions. First of all, Mike has managed to put up these numbers while playing in a BCS conference and has earned respect both in and out of the Big East Conference. In three years, Mickens has been named to the league's all star teams every season. As a freshman and sophomore, Mike was named to the Big East's 2nd team before becoming 1st team All BIG EAST this year. In addition, Mike was named to the Football Writer's Association of America All-American team last week. No other Cincinnati cornerback comes close to matching Micken's awards.

The Huber Heights Wayne product talked about being named an All-American. "I knew that I had made it about a week earlier. It's a great honor and a great feeling."

Bearcat football fans may remember that Mickens' college options were very limited. He chose between Bowling Green and Cincinnati. He feels he may be the poster child for why recruiting rankings are overrated. "I hope so. It doesn't matter where you go; it's how you play. Players can do just fine here at Cincinnati, and we're stepping it up to another level. We have three All-Americans on this team, and we have eight all conference players."

The Bearcat cover corner is obviously pleased with his play. "I'm very pleased with my career. I feel I'm getting better every year, and our team is getting better every year. As I get better, the team gets better too. That's the most important thing. The team's improved play means the players are getting more exposure. I think we had only three guys get league recognition my freshman year. That number keeps increasing."

Although Bearcat football fans would love to see Mike stick around and finish his career next year, he's considering all his options. "I've thought about the NFL, but I'm not sure where I'd be projected to go. Right now I'm more concerned about the bowl game. After that, I'll sit down and make my decision."

Mike believes the Cincinnati program is a different place from when he signed his letter of intent three years ago. "I think so. It's way different. They're demanding to win now. When I first got here, we were just getting by. Now we expect to win and go into games expecting to win."

The true junior knows he'll have his game tested on December 22nd as he matches up with Southern Mississippi's 6' 2"/204 pound flanker, Torris Magee. "We've seen a lot of film. I think we'll be okay. We just need to follow the game plan."

At only 6 feet and 175 pounds, Mike is small by today's standards, even for a cornerback. "I came here at about 160 pounds, but I still need another five to eight pounds." But Mickens knows his size is only one area in which he can improve. "I need to work on my break better and just keep working hard. I can't take any plays off."

Up to this point in his career, Mike identified what stands out. "This season being 9-3. A lot of people didn't think we could be 9-3, and we've sold out the stadium. It's a dream come true for me."

That dream could get significantly better if the Bearcats can get their tenth win against Southern Mississippi on December 22nd.


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