While Luke Fickell has a spring behind him as head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats, Wednesday saw the former Ohio State standout and longtime assistant coach lead the Bearcats in some meaningful football for the first time as the 2017 season officially got underway with what Fickell called a mini-camp in Nippert Stadium.
Bearcat Insider was on hand and has a few thoughts on what we saw.
Anytime you have a coaching change there are growing pains. The hope is for most of those pains to have been smoothed out during the spring. For the Bearcats, practice was brisk paced and it was easy to see players have more of an understanding on where to be and what to do as compared to the spring.
That’s a testament to the head coach and his staff on getting players and coaches all on the same page.
The other thing we noticed was how hands-on Fickell was throughout the day. He’s a young coach and as he said following practice, he’s was just trying to make sure he stayed out of the way at times. However, several times we watched as he gave pointers to members of the Bearcats defense.
BIGGEST QUESTION OF CAMP
One look and it’s easy to see new offensive line coach Ron Crook is going to earn his money this season. While there are capable players for Crook to pick from on the depth chart, this is not a slam dunk in picking a top five or six now. Look for camp battles early in camp and results in early scrimmages setting the tone of possible success in the season.
CATCH OF THE DAY
Belonged to redshirt freshman receiver Tyrin Summers with a one-hand grab on the sideline. Not sure if he was in-bounds or out, but it was a great catch right on the line that caught the attention of those who witnessed it. We all knew Summers brought speed to campus when he signed with the Bearcats, add in the hands displayed and keep an eye out for the young receiver.
While the pads are still a few days away, we did get a chance to kind of see how guys lined up in some 7-on-7 drills. We’ll only focus on the guys seen running with the first group as of now.
Linebackers: It all starts in the middle and senior Jaylyin Minor looks ready to lead the defense. On the outside, we watched as Tyrell Gilbert and Perry Young maned the two spots.
Corners: Two seniors have the early advantage on the edges as Linden Stephens and Grant Coleman took most of the reps. Keep an eye on fellow senior Davin Pierce as well. Stephens has a couple of starts under his belt but will need to step forward with a big camp. Coleman started 12 games a season ago and looks ready to have his best season as a Bearcat. Pierce saw action in 12 games a year ago mostly on special teams.
Safeties: Junior Malik Clements played in all 12 games last season finishing with 36 tackles. He’s joined by senior Carter Jacobs who saw action in 11 of the Bearcats 12 games last season. The Florida native enjoyed his best season as a Bearcat posting 43 tackles overall including five games with five or more stops.
WELCOME BACK MR. GANTZ
It was great seeing kicker Andrew Gantz back on the field after all the time he missed last season. Gantz was ready for another all-conference season before he suffered a hip injury during training camp that limited him to only a couple of games.
Really looking forward to when the pads or put on and seeing how redshirt freshman Gerrid Doaks performs with playing time on the line. He’s got the size you want from a big back and looked impressive during Day One of camp. While Mike Boone is set for most of the carries, we can see the Indianapolis native making some noise.