BCI Confidence Rating: Defensive Line

As the Bearcats get ready to head into preseason camp Bearcat Insider gets ready for its fifth year of watching the team get ready for another exciting season of Big East football. So how much confidence do we have in the defensive line?

Pressing Question: Who will the starters be when the season opens at Rutgers? That is the biggest question I have for this group of solid players who are the heart and soul of the Bearcats new defense. There are several guys here that can be big-time play makers and if they perform the way they are capable of this will be the strength of the defense.

Breakdown: Where do you start when there is this much talent on the roster. Curtis Young has always had the tools to be a great player. Derek Wolfe is a future pro prospect in the making. Ricardo Mathews continues to get better and John Hughes continues to improve with each snap he takes.

Oh, and don't forget players like Alex Daniels, Rob Trigg and Walter Stewart have major talent not to mention the new players that are coming in.

There is quality depth and new promising depth along the Bearcats line and fans should be excited about what they'll bring to the field each week.

So lets look at the defensive tackles first.

Hughes, Mathews, Trigg and Brandon Mills all bring different things to the table. Mathews is primed to have a breakout year bring size, burst and strength to the position. Hughes has become a major beast hitting 300-pounds with quick's.

Trigg is a well rounded solid player and Mills reminds some of Terrill Byrd with his low center of gravity and burst.

But the two players I want to see in camp the most are true freshmen Jordan Stepp and Ricky Harris. I watched the Indiana native (Stepp) in our Scout.com combine tear it up and he is explosive enough and strong enough to come in and compete early using strength and quickness much like Byrd had done during his career.

And now the defensive ends/ moveable players.

The new defensive scheme will see these guys use strength, speed and overall athletic ability to make plays happen. While they can lineup at the LOS they also can drop back into a linebacker spot. Closing an edge or coming off the edge is where they will force offenses to make choices and keep them on their toes.

Wolfe is a beast ready to breakout after getting some reps last season. Alex Daniels should be back 100% and push for major snaps. He's a physical beast and it's still hard to believe I watched this kid play running back.

As I've said many times I'm a huge Curtis Young fan and have been since his days at Cleveland Glenville High School. Not only am I proud of what Curtis has done on the field but his fight to straighten things out in the classroom and work towards a degree is something I'll always remember about him. When Curtis is on his game there is no one better.

Walt Stewart is going to go down as one of the biggest recruiting steals as he continues to grow and improve. It will be interesting to see what he brings to the field when camps open and during the season.

Another player who could take big strides is Dan Giordano. Mike Elston spoke highly of the Illinois native and this camp could show where he's at in the pecking order.

The Bearcats staff did a great job of recruiting and there is young depth on the roster that has talent and should be looked upon this fall to learn from a good group of veterans.

The Big If: Will the defensive scheme really make the Bearcats a better defensive team? The jury is still out and is a giant if considering how successful the Bearcats have been the past few seasons. But Brian Kelly is one smart cookie and it's his belief that the 3-4 is something that gives the Bearcats a giant edge.

Our Call:This is the strength of the Bearcats defense in numbers and talent. There should be no mercy shown to the weak and this could place the Bearcats offense on the field even more than in the past couple of seasons.

Confidence Rating: I'm not one to give out 10's and I won't start here as I'll give this group a 9.5 ranking. Depth from top to bottom and very good athletic players who by the time camp ends be playing fast in the new defensive scheme.

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