Tag Archives: Cincinnati Bearcats

RedHawk transfers paying dividends for Jayhawks, Bearcats

Through the season’s first month, two former Miami (Ohio) stars have helped take their new teams to the next level. The MAC’s leading tackler from a season ago, Ivan Pace, Jr., joined his younger brother, Deshawn (20 tackles, QB sack, 3 TFLs, INT-TD, PBU and one blocked kick), in the Cincinnati linebacking corps. The chemistry has been palpable for the nation’s 22nd-ranked defense. Ivan leads the nation with 13.5 tackles for loss entering Week 6, and he also has six quarterback sacks with two forced fumbles.

While at Miami (Ohio), he displayed a knack for reading the action instinctively and always flashed a short-area burst to reach the quarterback. Pace has often been far too much for running backs to handle in blitz pickup at various stages (2nd QTR/6:40, Ohio ’21).

Ivan Pace LB Cincinnati in the 2021 Frisco Football Classic
Pace, Jr. (No. 0 pictured for Miami in 2021) transferred to Cincinnati in 2022 and currently leads the nation with 13.5 tackles for losses (through five games).

On Ohio’s next drive during that game, Pace, Jr. forced a fumble (2nd QTR, Ohio ’21).

Never a threat to pass the eye test, teams around the AAC have their sights fixated on Pace, Jr. when they turn on Cincinnati’s game film. He began the year with 12 tackles, one quarterback sack and three-and-a-half tackles for loss against Arkansas on the road. He has posted four double-digit tackle performances and is currently tied for fifth nationally in that category (56 tackles).

Prior to the 2020 campaign, Pace, Jr. changed his number from 23 to zero for the Redhawks. And he’s responded by averaging nearly 10 tackles per game over that time span.

Statistically, there have been none better than the Bearcats’ latest star.

In Lawrence, Kansas (5-0) also got a boost from a former RedHawk with the addition of Phelps. He is the same explosive player who nearly decapitated two blockers in kickoff coverage during the 2021 Frisco Classic Bowl. That type of intensity is nothing new for Phelps, who plays the game with an attitude that tips the scales of angry play. His kickoff cover prowess was evident during the 2021 season at various points (tackle, 3rd QTR/8:26, Ohio ’21).

He’s strong with his hands and can win at the point of attack. Phelps has posted sacks in each of his last two outings after starting the year with a dominant three-sack performance against Tennessee Tech. The Big 12 Conference named him the Defensive Player of the Week after the performance (9-5-22).

Nine-and-a-half of his 30 tackles in 2021 went for quarterback sacks, but it was the manner in which he finished those which catches the eyes of opponents.

Lonnie Phelps in the 2021 Frisco Football Classic
Phelps, pictured, led Miami (Ohio) with 13.5 tackles for losses in 2021. He already has five quarterback sacks in 2022 for the Jayhawks.

The team faces its biggest test of the year this week against TCU. The Jayhawks are counting on Phelps, a redshirt junior, to continue his torrid pace. The Horned Frogs rushing attack ranks second in the Big 12 and sixth nationally at 252 yards per game. One of Phelps’ strengths is suddenness. His hands have to be ready for combat due to the size of TCU offensive tackles Brandon Coleman (6’6, 325) and Andrew Coker (6’7, 315). Coleman is a former guard who moves bodies in the run game and Coker’s size often engulfs opponents.

Kansas, however, ranks 39th in the country in rushing defense and allowed just 26 yards on the ground to Iowa State (3-2) in last week’s 14-11 victory.

Q&A with Chicago Bears DE Trevis Gipson: “Put in the work”

Tulsa defensive end Trevis Gipson totaled 13 quarterback sacks in college and in 2019 doubled his sack production from four to eight. DraftNasty’s Corey Chavous caught up with Gipson (6’3, 259) during the 2020 Senior Bowl media day to discuss his favorite pass rush moves and the chances of improving his draft stock.

Chavous: You worked so much at the four-technique (DL) and oftentimes you play bigger than your size, what do you feel like this week offers in terms of showing you can be as an edge rusher?
Gipson: I feel like that will show my versatility to scouts and general managers that will be observing our practice. Like you said, I came in sometimes four-I (inside shade of tackle), four (head-up versus offensive tackle) or sometimes even five (outside shoulder of offensive tackle), but just being on that edge showing I can bull rush or speed rush, speed-to-power, just showing a lot of versatility in my pass rush. I feel like that will help my overall draft stock at the end of the day.

Gipson finished his Golden Hurricane career with 25.5 tackles for losses and eight forced fumbles.

Chavous: Some of our notes on you include the right-hand post from the left defensive end spot and then using that same arm to dip and make the 90-degree turn against Cincinnati this year. When you go against bigger tackles, like the guys you’ll face this week, do you feel like your long arms will allow you to get some extension away from these big tackles?
Gipson: I feel like it will. I have certain moves for certain tackles. Taller tackles I like to dip the corner or use my speed because they are longer than me. It all depends on what type of tackle I’m going against and just being able to turn that corner…wearing that down. That will open my opportunities to do the bull rush or power pass rushes overall.

Chavous: Do you think if you show here what you showed against other Power 5 teams that you could move up into the first round discussion?
Gipson: Most definitely, my confidence in myself is out of this roof. I feel like once I show them my pass rush is unstoppable in my opinion then it will help my draft stock. Overall, run-stopping, also, I feel like that will help me. Just dominating in all aspects man, that’s a part of my game plan. Of course everyone wants their draft stock to rise, but you’ve got put in the work to do it. That’s my first milestone and I’ll cross that coming this afternoon (here at the Senior Bowl).

Chavous: You kind of touched upon it, you’re a good run defender. That separates you from potentially some of the other players. Why is it such a commitment to you in terms of holding the point or being able to two-gap?
Gipson: In order to get to third down, you have to stop first and second.

Chavous: Yeah.
Gipson: I feel like I have more fun rushing the passer but I can’t do that unless I stop the run first. Of course delivering big hits….just enjoying the physicality of the game, that’s part of the reason I do it man. I love the game. You can’t take physicality or you can’t take running away from the game. Everybody is gonna run the ball. Some teams more than others…like Navy.

Chavous: Right, right.
Gipson: I didn’t get many pass rushes versus them (Navy).

Chavous: Protect your legs….(laughs).
Gipson: Ah man, I had blood coming down my shins and everything. It was crazy man. But stopping the run is a big part of getting to that third down and that’s what comes first. So I take that more serious.

Chavous: You kind of remind me of those guys who are multi-dimensional, like Za’Darius Smith or Preston Smith, the guys that play up in Green Bay. Guys who can play the run and rush the passer. Who do you pattern your game after at the next level? Maybe a guy where you say that kind of reminds me of myself a little bit. I can work on developing some of what he already has in his arsenal.
Gipson: I like to compare myself to Marcus Davenport (New Orleans Saints), he’s 6-foot-7 (6’6″). But just his story, coming out of UTSA, a small school, he was underlooked.

Chavous: He kind of rose up during this week (Senior Bowl) too, right?
Gibson: Yeah, he did and that’s my plan. Seeing him become the 14th overall pick, it just gave me nothing but hope and pride. I’m going to try and kill this week and show scouts what I can do. Overall, perform at a high level.

Chavous: Thanks a lot man, we enjoyed watching you play. Best of luck.
Gibson: Thanks a lot.

Green Bay Packers TE/H-back Josiah Deguara: 2020 NFL Draft, 3rd Round, 94th overall

After catching 114 passes for 24 touchdowns as a prep level star at Folsom High School (Calif.). He slowly settled into a role at Cincinnati over a three-year period, concluding his stay with a career-high seven touchdown receptions in 2019. His versatility bodes well in a possible NFL transition to a full-time H-back position for the Packers.

UCLA vs. Cincinnati, 12-20-18: In-game report

In a true non-conference road game for UCLA, the home team manhandled the Bruins. Cincinnati rained three pointers all night long, en route to a 93-64 win.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-=game report:

34 Jarron Cumberland (6’5 205) Cincinnati guard/forward- Junior

Cumberland led the Bearcats first half barrage, scoring 19 of his 25 points in the first twenty minutes. The junior shot 9-of-17 from the field and 4-of-5 from the three-point line.  He used his strong football-type build to bulldoze his way to the lane with both hands. He coupled his physicality with a nice jump shot on Thursday night.  Scouts at the next level will question his lateral quickness and jumping ability. Cumberland did show the ability to switch from point guard to small forward, but whether he can keep up with the more athletic guards in the NBA remains a question mark. 

33 Nysier Brooks (6’11 240) Cincinnati center-Junior

Brooks is tall, long and competes on both ends of the floor. The junior center is averaging eight points, five rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in 21 minutes of action this season.  Against UCLA, Brooks dominated in 19 minutes of game time, totaling 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks.  The Philadelphia native served as a defensive anchor for the Bearcats, who harassed the Bruins all night defensively. 

“A lot of people are surprised by our toughness because our defense is something special,” Brooks said after the game. “Nobody knows what it is, but it’s something special.”

Brooks does have a tendency to get into foul trouble and could help his draft stock by adding a few more post moves to his tool belt. With another year of seasoning, Brooks could intrigue scouts with his length and potential as a defensive difference maker. 

13 Kris Wilkes (6’8 215) UCLA guard-Sophomore 

Wilkes returned to UCLA after forgoing the NBA draft last spring. The sophomore guard is a catch-and-shoot scorer, who is also explosive going to the rim.  Wilkes was the lone bright spot offensively for the Bruins, scoring 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting while going 5-of-8 from the three-point line. The Indianapolis native will serve best in the NBA as a shooting guard.  He isn’t a primary ballhandler and isn’t asked at UCLA to set others up. Wilkes does rebound well for his slight build (averages four rebounds a game). Despite his lack of ball handling abilities, Wilkes is a great outlet passer and is able to set others up in transition once he grabs the rebound. Although a good shooter, he could stand to improve his percentage at the free throw line (67-percent in career).  The athletic tools are in place for Wilkes to be a first round draft pick. 

Former Cincinnati OL Cunningham hungry for enjoyment

Former Cincinnati Bearcats offensive tackle Korey Cunningham is an example that hard work pays off.  It’s not often that you find a former 220-pound tight end blossom into a 315-pound all-conference tackle in just a four-year period. The transformation landed him a berth in the 2018 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, where he performed admirably at guard on game day.  He described the arduous weight-gaining process late in 2017.

“I would have protein shakes and chipotle three times a day,” the second-team All-AAC tackle explained during a pregame meeting with CBS in late November 2017. “Then I would do extra workouts at night.”

Former Cincinnati offensive lineman Korey Cunningham, pictured, morphed from a 220-pound tight end into a 312-pound offensive tackle.

Aside from the Chipotle visits, he also had lots of white rice and brown rice to get up to around 2,100 calories per day.  It speaks to his commitment. On the field, his improvements have been just as dramatic. He became more sudden in his kick-slide and it resulted in better finish as a pass protector. Never was this more evident than on a few occasions against 2016 AAC Defensive Player of the Year Shaquem Griffin during their 2017 battle.  Perhaps more telling was his 2016 encounter with former Temple star outside linebacker and 2017 Arizona Cardinals first-round pick Haason Reddick.

“After the game against Reddick, I gained a lot of confidence,” Cunningham stated. “I’m just staying positive, enjoying the moment and having a good time.”

Positivity.  Enjoyment.

Words that resonate on a day-to-day basis.

It is no surprise that he earned Cincinnati’s Jim Kelly Spirit Award at the postseason senior awards banquet.

If his work ethic is any indication, he could very well ‘enjoy’ the 2018 NFL Draft.