Weather delays allow UC football to practice spontaneity at Camp Higher Ground

Cincinnati Enquirer
WEST HARRISON, Indiana – Summer storms aren't new to Camp Higher Ground and the University of Cincinnati's football work Monday, Aug. 7 was interrupted by seasonal downpours and nearby lightning strikes.
UC Senior Associate AD/Sports Medicine Aaron Himmler has technology that detects strikes within eight miles. Twice Himmler directed the Bearcats back to their locker area. By all accounts, including Associate AD/Operations John Widecan, the two delays are a Higher Ground record.
The talk of previous coach Luke Fickell having a force field surrounding the Dearborn County area is folklore.
"There's going to be games where we may have some lightning delays," UC running backs coach De'Rail Simms said. "How do we operate during the time frame before we go out and play? It was a good teaching moment."
After the second delay, the Bearcats were chomping at the bit to come out but didn't proceed until head football strength coach Niko Palazeti led them through a few minutes of stretching to limber up and be ready for the remaining periods.
UC's No-Name receivers
The defense of the 1972 Miami Dolphins was coined the "No-Name Defense" by legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry as they had no high-profile performers. Those names became known after Don Shula's group went 14-0 and won the Super Bowl.
Monday, the Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch list for college football's top receiver was released with nary a Bearcat to be found. It's understandable as UC lost Tre Tucker and Tyler Scott to the NFL and others to the transfer portal, but the crew of 'Cats assembled for 2023 is nothing to sneeze about.
Louisville transfers Dee Wiggins and Braden Smith and Florida transfer Xzavier Henderson continue to haul down passes thrown from Emory Jones, Brady Drogosh or Brady Lichtenberg.
Between those three plus Donovan Ollie (Washington State) and Aaron Turner (Connecticut) there are 358 total NCAA Division I receptions.
Wiggins and Smith were actually roommates at Louisville.
"We just try to push each other and hold each other accountable," Smith said. "We're two older guys in the receiver room. I think we've done a great job of trying to set the standard."
Catch of the day
As teammates screamed "Hendo!", senior Henderson laid out for a ball on the sideline against tough coverage and came away with the prize. Coming from the SEC's Gators, it shouldn't be a big surprise why Emory Jones helped recruit him to Cincinnati. In the past two seasons against the defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs, Henderson has nine receptions, including five for 110 yards and a touchdown last season.
Biggest reaction among Bearcats
Evan Prater had an impressive tip catch in individual work then got his teammates excited coming down with a two-point conversion pass from Drogosh in red zone drills. A close second was a diving interception from redshirt sophomore linebacker Jack Dingle. Dingle at 6-4 and nearly 240 pounds is considered one of the faster guys on the team.
Lurking behind the headlines
Daniel Grzesiak hasn't had much of the early limelight with Dontay Corleone, Jowon Briggs and Deshawn Pace getting the attention at Big 12 Media Days. While all three are formidable, Grzesiak's been a thorn in the side of many quarterbacks.
Coming off the edge the 6-1, 250-pounder had 7.5 sacks in four seasons at Nevada, then exploded for 8.5 last season in the Mountain West with Utah State.
"I would say I'm a D-end with a lot of skills," Grzesiak said describing his position. "I've got a big toolbox."
One of his tools is the ability to not worry about prognostications, something many of the new 33 scholarship Bearcats might need to follow after being ranked No. 13 of 14 by Big 12 media preseason.
"Hey, people talk," Grzesiak said. "Everybody's got an opinion. I can say we're the best. I can say we're the worst. It doesn't matter until we kick off the first game and let the pads talk."
Who carries the ball?
Running backs coach Sims should have an interesting few days with the Bearcats transitioning to some full tackling in the run game. Corey Kiner, Ryan Montgomery, Myles Montgomery, Stephan Byrd, Manny Covey and others all offer interesting options.
"They all are feeding off of one another and competing with one another, but also helping one another," Sims said.
Kiner has 686 yards between two seasons at UC and LSU, while Ryan Montgomery has 724 yards in four seasons at UC. Myles Montgomery had a 102-yard game last season while Ethan Wright moved back to running back and actually gained more prep yards in his career than former Ohio Mr. Football Kiner. Byrd and Covey were accomplished high school runners.
"Big people always beat up little people," Sims said describing bigger backs Byrd and Kiner. "That's been since the beginning of time. The thing of it is, nobody in the room is the same. We've got different-type guys. Now, you're throwing off-speed pitches at the defense. Everybody brings their own gift to the table that's different than the next person."
Sims is looking forward to the coming of "big boy football" to camp, particularly after the work Palazeti and company did with them in the offseason bottom floor dungeon of the Lindner Center.
"I think you can see some more burst and explosion with them," Sims said. "Niko has been phenomenal with what he did with them during the weight room this summer."

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