Halfway To Bearcat Bowl III

The University of Cincinnati football team took to the field turf of Nippert Stadium on Friday morning before taking a holiday break. Friday's practice marked the halfway point to Bearcat Bowl III and the end of the Big East Champions spring session.

With overcast skies and the chance of rain Brian Kelly and his Big East Champion Bearcats took to the field looking to get a good days work in prior to taking a few days off for the Easter holiday.  Bearcat Insider was on hand and watched the Bearcats from start to finish.


The first thing Friday brought was several future Bearcats looking to get a glimpse of what they're future will be like once they arrive on campus.


Austin Bujnoch joined fellow Cincinnati Elder teammate Josh Jones while Dan Sprague, Sean McClellan and Mike Hilty were just a few more names on campus for the seventh practice of the spring.


Also on hand were several head coaches and prospects including Class of 2011 running backs Trayon Durham and Tyler Williams (Colerain/OH) with their head coach Tom Bolden.


But the biggest name of the day was Cincinnati Moeller quarterback Andrew Hendrix who took in practice on his day off from school.  The Bearcats have offered but with many offers already in hand Hendrix is not expecting a quick decision anytime soon.


But the action was on the field as drills were expected to be quick and players had better know where to be and what to do.  Several times during offensive drills players saw coaches driving home where they needed to be.  While this was a concern early the players quickly picked up the pace and started doing the things needs.


With some rain drops off and on during practice you could tell the players wanted to get the days work in and knew if they sharpened up each drill the chance of practice ending early was a possibility.


Not much has changed over the course of the spring as Brian Kelly knows what he wants worked on and drills are conducted with intensity.


Of the players that stood out over the past few practices the development of Marcus Barnett as a defensive back is one that now looks like a real possibility of working.  The former star wide receiver is showing great athletic ability by using his speed to close on the ball and his jumping ability to be able to go to the highest point and attack.  One area of concern will be in tackling but "Bones" is showing the willingness to stick his nose in there and get the job done.


Also the move of Demetrius Jones to linebacker is also looking good as the former quarterback is starting to show signs of explosion at the position.  With his physical frame Jones will need to continue to show signs of adding some weight but Friday he showed the willingness to explode off the ball and chase down the play.


Another move that will be interesting to watch is Adrien Robinson being moved to the defensive side of the ball.  The tight end was in a black jersey on Friday and is putting his hand down on the turf as a defensive player.  With the quality of depth at the tight end position Robinson like Barnett and Jones could see the move as a way to getting on the field.


One player who has really shown signs of stepping up is fifth year senior Brad Jones.  I spoke with Brad after practice and will have a story coming.  But the former Canton McKinley product has worked hard and knows this is his chance to shine before leaving the Bearcats program.


Many questioned if running back Darrin Williams would be capable of doing things once he got to college.  But while he got some verbal treatment from his defensive teammates about him not being in high school anymore, the former Detroit (MI) Martin Luther King standout has shown the willingness to run between the tackles while also having the cutback ability to make people miss in the open field.


Entering his final season as a Bearcat is Marcus Waugh.  Having lined up on both sides of the field over the course of his career now has the Toledo (Ohio) native back on defense as a linebacker.  Could this be the year Waugh gets his due?  I hope so because there has been no one else I can recall that's made so many moves over the course of their career. 


One of the young Bearcats that really is showing signs he's ready to breakout is Isaiah Pead.  While the young running back got some action as a freshman, he's looking ready to have a huge impact on the offense next fall and is using his reps well this spring. 


I also like the depth at the running back position as Scott Johnson is a thick back who runs hard.


With or without Vidal Hazelton the Bearcats are deep at the wide receiver position.  D.J. Woods is showing why he was a major prospect coming out of high school and is starting to look comfortable as a college player.  We all know what Mardy Gilyard is capable of doing and with him out of practice with a bone bruise others have been able to get reps.


One player Brian Kelly said will be on the bus next season is Danny Milligan.  The Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier product can do many things for the Bearcats as a wide receiver, punter and kicker.  Just like in high school the 5-foot-9, 171-pound Milligan looks out of place until he beats you on a deep route or takes a short pass and weaves in and out for a score.  While he doesn't have the strongest leg he's fully capable of getting the job done if a need would arise.

The Bearcats will return to the field next week as they put in a few more practices before Bearcat Bowl III in two weeks.



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