The first thing you noticed while the Bearcats defense took the field was the energy coming from the defensive coaches. New defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is a lot like former Bearcats defensive guru Pat Narduzzi as he brings energy and an excitement to the field that players pick up on quickly.
The same can be said of Mike Elston's move to defensive line as the former tight end coach has a defensive mentality and a swagger that you love to see from those in charge of the defense.
Add in what everyone already knows about Kerry Coombs and the Bearcats defense is full of energy and excitement.
Intense with an attacking style the Bearcats defense may have lost a ton of talent, but there are guys there ready and willing to give their all and show that recruiting efforts have been well spent over the past couple of classes.
Here is a look at each defensive position from Day One.
There are changes as the new defensive scheme (3-4) is showing its head early. Those who are interior linemen work with Mike Elston while those on the end spend time with Bob Diaco and the linebackers.
Don't read too much into the first day as things are sure to be moved around. Derek Wolfe has the size and all the tools to be a major player and Dan Giordano has seen a change in his body with some killer arms. It's not so much a change in weight for Giordano but his physical build is very impressive.
Alex Daniels and Ricardo Mathews are both prime and ready to have big final seasons. Both have major skills and will play major roles in the middle of the Bearcats new defensive scheme.
Ends & Linebackers
First team reps went to senior to be Craig Carey. The former quarterback looks to be in great shape and much like Connor Barwin could play a major role in the new Bearcats defense.
Also getting first team reps was Walt Stewart and Curtis Young. Each of these guys showed well in day one picking up where they needed to be and getting some praise from Coach Diaco.
With Andre Revels out of drills some young players are getting some major reps in practice. Just as he's done since the first time I watched him J.K. Schafer is pushing for playing time. The linebacker spots are open and it wouldn't be fair to talk about any one player in Day One.
Another player looking to crack the lineup is Robby Armstrong who learned how much his new coach knew about him. During a tackle drill Coach Diaco was teaching he asked if Armstrong knew about being a running back. Just as Armstrong was about to answer the new Bearcats coach told him the following. "I know you're from Pennsylvania and rushed for 2,000 yards in high school."
While many focused on Demetrius Jones move from quarterback to the defensive side of the ball, the Notre Dame transfer showed the willingness to listen and pick up on what he needed to do. Jones has great physical size for the outside backer position in the new scheme.
A couple of other players I'll be watching this spring include Collin McCaffery, Tomaz Hilton, Alex Delisi and Ricardo Thompson.
It was also good to see Joe Homan's name on the roster released as the former Dayton (Ohio) Chaminade Julienne product has worked hard to be there.
Coach Kerry Coombs has his work cut out for him this spring. Last year he had three possible NFL Draft picks and this spring he's got one veteran with major playing time in Aaron Webster.
Webster is set to have a giant senior season and work towards being one of the next Bearcats to have NFL teams looking hard at him.
Dominique Battle has a real chance to be a real star as a Bearcat and will push to earn a starters spot this spring.
Drew Frey picked up another year from the NCAA and that will be huge in the future as he continues to show why he was the most underrated prospect in his class a couple of years ago. If he can stay healthy he can be a big time player in the Big East.
The name looking to really take the next step is senior to be Brad Jones. The former Canton McKinley star has been on the edge of seeing more time in the past and now it's his turn to turn in a great spring to earn a starting spot when the Bearcats report for camp.
Every job in on the line for the Bearcats defense and players are excited to be in a position to earn starting roles this spring. The energy is high and makes for excitement while watching practice.
Bearcat Insider will be on hand for the next practice the media is allowed to attend. We'll also have two One-on-One stories with Aaron Webster and C.J. Cobb coming this week.
Day One Defensive Notes
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