Bearcats Start Defense Of Big East

Don't let anyone fool you, championships in college football start in the spring and finish as the year closes. The University of Cincinnati took the first step towards defending their Big East title on Tuesday.

Under overcast skies and a couple of banks of lights, Brian Kelly and the Big East Champion Bearcats took to the field turf of Nippert Stadium for their first official practice of the spring. By all accounts some things have changed. Or have they?

One of the first moves watched on Tuesday was Demetrius Jones as a linebacker. The former Notre Dame quarterback is the latest player to see a position move from offense to defense hoping for the chance to use his athletic ability on the field.

The next move was Marcus Barnett seeing reps as a defensive back. Bearcat Insider spoke with former Bearcats cornerback/safety DeAngelo Smith who watched some of practice.

"Marcus has no problem playing corner. We came out here the other day and worked on cover skills so he'd be ready for today. He's excited about doing what ever it takes to win."

How ready was the man they call Bones? Ready enough to pick a pass intended for the Bearcats top receiver Mardy Gilyard and take it in for a score. But don't think Barnett's days as a wide receiver are over just yet.

"This is our version of the Gong Show," Said Brian Kelly after practice. "We line them up and take a look at them. Its spring and we try to take a look at everybody. As I told our guys, this is an opportunity and when you get an opportunity you make the best of it. This is an audition and over the next fifteen days you get to audition."

One reason for the move of Barnett is the depth at the receiver position. While there is hope that USC transfer Vidal Hazelton will be able to play this fall, Barnett needs to be ready to play where ever Kelly looks to play him to help his team win.

Several changes have taken place around the depth chart but in the first day things can change and we'll cover the changes in the days the media are allowed to cover practice.

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