Linkenbach Remembers What It Was Like

Coming out of high school not many people knew who Jeff Linkenbach was. That now has changed as the Bearcats left tackle has left a lasting impression on Bearcat fans with his play and the success the team has seen since he arrived on campus. On Saturday, Linkenbach looks to defend the Keg of Nails for the first time in his career.

Last seasons Bearcats victory over Louisville marked the first time senior members of the Bearcats had seen the Keg of Nails up close. What did Jeff Linkenbach know about the prize awarded to the winner of this rivalry game?

"The first time I saw it was when we took it from them last year. It's our goal to have it remain here for at least another season."

Not only has winning rivalry trophies become common the past year, but sell-out crowds like this weeks is another. Has Jeff noticed the difference?

"Honestly for me I don't really notice it being a difference. I know we have more fans coming to games, but for the fans, the students and incoming recruits I know it's great for them. But for me it's just football with twenty-two guys on the field."

Since arriving on campus Jeff has played a major role in the success the Bearcats have had on the field. But don't look for Jeff to take too much credit.

"Thanks, but it was already in process when I got here as Cincinnati was in a transition as the program was entering the Big East. I felt Cincinnati had a great location and had all the right parts to get to a Top 10 ranking before I got here and now we have."

One thing Jeff recalls is the lack of college programs offering him scholarships coming out of high school. Did Jeff have a lot of college interest?

"Not really, I don't even know what I was ranked and had only four or five scholarship offers from a lot of MAC schools. Northwestern had a scholarship open up late and they offered it to me but I was already committed to Cincinnati."

Looking around from field level during our interview, Jeff recalled the days prior to him picking the Bearcats.

"I went through a couple of tours with the hard hats on. We use to have 20-25,000 fans at a game and I know the increased crowd is great for our defense. To get 35,000 people revved up and the way the sound is here it gets very intense."

Last weeks win over South Florida placed Jeff against one of the top pass rushing defensive ends in the country. How did Jeff feel about his performance?

"You can always do better and I'm very happy with the win. I graded out fairly well and I'm happy with it but never satisfied."

After this season the Bearcats will be looking to replace Jeff and right now the senior is working hard with freshman Sean Hooey. How is the youngster doing this fall?

"I try to help him a little bit by watching film with him and taking him through a couple of footwork things. I just try to be there for him when he needs it. He's come a long way since spring when he first started practicing with us and he's working hard."

While he's never satisfied with his play, Jeff has seen several areas he's improved his game.

"I feel I've really worked hard on his mental approach to the game by being able to see the whole field and to know what the defense is doing and being able to communicate that inside."

Another area Jeff is excited about is earning his college degree. Where does he stand?

"I plan to graduate in December with a finance degree."

An Ohio native Jeff has watched his family attend many of the Bearcats biggest wins. What has his family been like since the team has seen so much success?

"I don't think my family ever sits down when they come as they are having a great time every time they come to a game."

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