5 observations from UC football's 1st day of training camp under Scott Satterfield

A month away from their 2023 season opener, the University of Cincinnati began its first training camp workout under Scott Satterfield, Wednesday at Nippert Stadium.
With 32 players gone by way of transfer, graduation or the NFL Draft, the Bearcats have 33 new scholarship players. Many have experience in Power Five conferences, just not in the Big 12 or at Cincinnati.
While not at the full-tilt-hitting mode yet, the UC opening practice was like "Christmas morning" according to Satterfield with a brisk two-hour pace.
UC head football coach Scott Satterfield opted for the Nike bucket hat over the visor on their first day of training camp Wednesday, Aug. 2 at Nippert Stadium.
UC head football coach Scott Satterfield opted for the Nike bucket hat over the visor on their first day of training camp Wednesday, Aug. 2 … Show more
Higher Ground: University of Cincinnati Bearcats open camp ahead of first Big 12 season
Here are five observations on a sun-filled Wednesday at the freshly power-washed "Nipp":
1) You may not know the receivers, but you will
Going down the roster numerically, Braden Smith (Louisville), Dee Wiggins (Miami Hurricanes/Louisville), Xzavier Henderson (Florida) and Donovan Ollie (Washington State) all come from Power Five conferences as UC makes its Big 12 debut Sept. 23 against Oklahoma at Nippert Stadium.
Smith and Wiggins both have a better handle on the Satterfield offense from their time down Interstate 71 with Louisville. That showed some Wednesday.
Others like Aaron Turner from Connecticut have a solid Division I resumé. Then there's North Carolina A&T transfer Sterling Berkhalter (Princeton High School) and position-switching Evan Prater who display athletic 6-foot-4 frames along with freshman Barry Jackson Jr. who has dazzled since spring.
"It's a good-looking group standing here watching them," Satterfield said. "They're big, they're long, they're athletic, they can run."
Cincinnati Bearcats wide receiver Dee Wiggins (2) catches a practice pass during the Cincinnati Bearcats spring scrimmage at Nippert Stadium on Saturday, April 15, 2023.
Cincinnati Bearcats wide receiver Dee Wiggins (2) catches a practice pass during the Cincinnati Bearcats spring scrimmage at Nippert Stadium on Saturday, April 15, 2023.
While the offense emphasizes the run game, Wednesday's practice had some good battles between the defensive backs and the receivers trying to haul down throws from quarterbacks Emory Jones, Brady Drogosh and Brady Lichtenberg. Using his 6-3 frame, redshirt senior Wiggins was able to win some of the battles, while Smith appeared as healthy as Satterfield has seen him in recent years.
"He's an old vet," Satterfield said. "He knows our offense as well. I'm very pleased where they (Wiggins, Smith) are. They're really good players for us."
2) How is the new offensive line faring vs. the returning defensive line?
Leading the army of 300-plus pounders in front of quarterback Jones is redshirt junior Gavin Gerhardt. On either side of him are newcomers like Luke Kandra (Louisville/Elder High), Trevor Radosevich (Penn), Deondre Buford (Kentucky) and Phillip Wilder (Southeast Missouri State) plus holdovers Cam Jones,, John Williams and others.
"I don't think we're going to see a better D-line than them the entire year," Gerhardt said. "Going against them every day is going to make us strong, even more connected."
3) The leadership of Jowon Briggs is key
The fifth-year senior is listed under 300 pounds for the first time at UC and is another player with Power Five experience having played at Virginia. The 2019 Walnut Hills grad is married with two children and another on the way, making him a "father figure" among his teammates.
"I'm not the most vocal loud guy," Briggs said. "I try to take the position of a sheepdog vs. a shepherd. The sheepdog guides the pack from behind, the shepherd stands in front with a stick not really doing much. I'd rather be a sheepdog and keep nipping at people to keep going."
4) Preseason accolades continue to flow
UC's 6-7 Australian bomber of a punter, Mason Fletcher, averaged 46.2 yards per punt last season and had 14 travel 50 yards or more, including an 84-yard boomer vs. SMU. One of three Ray Guy Finalists last season, the junior from Melbourne is on 2023's Ray Guy Preseason List. During the first practice, he was humble.
"I don't really play team sports for individual awards," Fletcher said. "I'm just getting ready for the season and I'll be ready to go when the time comes."
Fletcher is aware of the Ray Guy history but is not sure of he can match his 18 college interceptions as a defensive back, nor his tackling abilities.
"Maybe not in America, back home I'd be pretty confident in that," Fletcher said of possibly bringing a ball carrier down. "If I had to, definitely would."
Fletcher's father Dustin is an Australian rules football legend where the tackling comes minus pads.
Adding to Fletcher's honors, defensive lineman Dontay Corleone has made the Bronko Nagurski and Outland Trophy Preseason List in addition to others.
Both Corleone and Fletcher were named Preseason All-Big 12.
5) A prominent NFL defensive back and a point guard legend become UC grads Friday
It was confirmed that Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, now of the New York Jets and former NBA great Nick Van Exel will walk in UC's graduation ceremony Friday, Aug. 4. They are part of 15 UC student-athletes that will graduate with the list including David DeJulius and Ody Oguama from last season's basketball squad.
Gardner will walk after the Jets play in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton vs. the Browns on Thursday. He was UC's highest-ever draft pick at No. 4 overall in 2022 and proceeded to earn NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Van Exel helped lead UC to the Final Four in 1992 and Elite Eight in 1993 as a Bearcat and was drafted by the Lakers in the second round. He had a 13-year NBA career averaging 14.4 points per game and 6.6 assists. He currently is an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks.

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