University of Cincinnati Bearcats open camp ahead of first Big 12 season

It is the 25th anniversary of University of Cincinnati football heading to Camp Higher Ground in West Harrison, Indiana. It will be Bearcat head coach Scott Satterfield's first visit and he's joked about getting t-shirts.
Perhaps the team could visit nearby Shelton Fireworks to commemorate the occasion. All Coach Satterfield knows is John Widecan, Associate AD/Football Operations swears by it going back to then-coach Rick Minter's first excursion across state lines in the late 1990s.
"It's going to be an awesome team-building opportunity," Satterfield said. "Wid (Widecan) it's his baby. He's told us all the history. He said we had one bowl game prior to going to Higher Ground, now we've had 18 or whatever it is. There's no distractions. That's the beauty of it."
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Tuesday, Aug. 1, Satterfield, Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Bryan Brown and Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach Brad Glenn addressed the media on what to expect in the coming weeks. In terms of numbers, UC had 15 players enter the transfer portal after Luke Fickell departed for Wisconsin and 17 either graduated or declared for the NFL Draft. UC has 21 four-year college transfers on the roster.
Emory Jones started 20 games at Florida, then Arizona State and has thrown for 4,890 yards and 33 touchdowns in 45 career games. In 2021 with the Gators in the SEC, he ran for 759 yards and four touchdowns. Make no mistake, a quarterback can't be one-dimensional in this offense.
Satterfield and Glenn have had success with dual-threat quarterbacks. Jones even trained with last year's Louisville starter Malik Cunningham.
"We want the triple threat," Glenn said. "We want the guy that beat you with his arm, his legs and with his mind. He (Jones) is still learning the playbook. He's got a great football IQ. Once he knows it like the back of his hand, I do believe he'll be that triple-threat guy."
True freshman Brady Drogosh also participated in spring ball and was the only quarterback "live" with the defense. He responded with some nice runs and a highlight pass to fellow true freshman Barry Jackson.
"Tons of talent there," Glenn said. "He's in that mode of the kind of a guy that we like. We need to get him practice reps."
Running backs
Fifth-year senior and punt returner Ryan Montgomery returns after scoring five touchdowns last season and Roger Bacon product Corey Kiner had touchdowns in five straight games along with a career-high 102 yards at Tulsa. Myles Montgomery recorded a 78-yard score last season, Ethan Wright returns to the backfield along with Stephan Byrd and Manny Covey is a top 50 Florida prospect.
"I do think it will be several guys, not just one," Satterfield said. "It's going to be a committee approach unless one or two guys really stand out over the next couple weeks."
Offensive coordinator Glenn also sees the position as a group effort at this point with no frontrunner.
"The first five to 10 days in camp is going to be huge for them to see if they can separate," Glenn said. "Running back's a tough position with a lot of physicality. You need several guys that you can count on. Hopefully, we have three, four, five guys that we can trust and I believe we do."
Wide receivers
UC lost a pair of receivers to the NFL (Tre Tucker and Tyler Scott) plus others to the portal. New to the room is Dee Wiggins (Louisville, Miami), Sterling Berkhalter (North Carolina A&T, Princeton High alum), Donovan Ollie (Washington State), Xzavier Henderson (Florida), Braden Smith (Louisville), Aaron Turner (Connecticut) and Evan Prater, the former Wyoming High quarterback who is now on the receiving end.
"It's the most unselfish receiver room I've ever been a part of," Satterfield said. "They've produced a lot in their career, it just hasn't been here. We've got length, we've got size, strength, we've got smaller, slot-type bodies. We've got guys who can throw the ball. Braden Smith has thrown four touchdown passes in his career, now Prater's out there with a very unique skill set. It's kind of like a new toy at Christmas, you can do a lot of things with that toy."
Glenn points out Henderson leading Florida in catches last season, plus his previous chemistry with Jones when he was a Gator. He also likes Turner and Ollie's resumé and saw what freshman Jackson did in spring.
"From practice one through practice 15 he (Jackson) was probably the most improved guy," Glenn said. "He's carried that over into summer. Sterling Berkhalter has probably improved the most over the course of the summer. Things are trending in the right direction."
Then there's last year's Wasabi Fenway Bowl starting quarterback Prater.
"He's got some natural abilities at that position (receiver) without us even coaching him," Glenn said. "He's going to be good at that position but the question is, is it going to be two weeks into camp? Two weeks into the season? It's kind of a wait-and-see for us. I'm extremely pleased with his competitiveness and his attitude."
Tight ends
Redshirt sophomore Chamon Metayer at 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds has the NFL body and potential that Josh Whyle and Leonard Taylor displayed before entering the draft. He shined in the 2022 spring game and this coaching staff hopes 2023 is his year.
"We've told him, 'You've got all the tools to be a guy that can really contribute,'" Glenn said. "Now, he's got to make his mind up to go do it."
Glenn envisions Metayer and redshirt junior Payten Singletary as tight ends that can stay on the field as opposed to one being a receiver and one being more of an extra offensive lineman.
Western Kentucky transfer Joey Beljan might have been a factor but suffered a spring injury that will have him miss most, if not all of the season.
Offensive line
Outside of center Gavin Gerhardt, you likely will see many of the O-line newcomers in games like Luke Kandra (Louisville/Elder High), Trevor Radosevich (Penn), Philip Wilder (Southeast Missouri State) and Kentucky behemoth Deondre Buford. Dartanyun Tinsley, Cam Jones and John Williams will also push for playing time.
"To win championships, you've got to be able to run the football when you want to run it," Glenn said. "There's probably seven or eight guys that you kind of trust right now. You need a couple more to step up."
Carter Brown came from Arizona State via the portal and is the frontrunner. Brown was 11-for-14 on field goals, going 5-for-7 on shots from 40-plus with a season-long of 53 yards. He made all 28 of his extra points. Also new is transfer Rory Bell from Temple who kicked a 55-yarder in 2021 for the Owls at Nippert against the Bearcats. Bryce Burton is a kicker who is the primary holder and Cayson Pfeiffer has mastered the art of the between-the-legs spiral.
Position-by-position outlook/Defense
Defensive line
"The Godfather" Dontay Corleone was already a Walter Camp All-American, Phil Steele First Team, Pre-season All Big 12 and Athlon All-Big 12 when Tuesday he was named to the Outland Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Award watch lists. The Colerain product is still just a redshirt sophomore. Grad student Jowon Briggs has also garnered some preseason notoriety from Athlon Sports. The former Walnut Hills standout has 17 career starts since transferring from Virginia. Satterfield got to know both immediately upon coming up from Louisville.
"They were the first two guys to walk into my office when I first got here in December," Satterfield said. "Then they just kept coming back. They just put the cleats on and go to work."
Corleone and Briggs were part of UC's contingent at Big 12 Media Days last month at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
"Those guys have done a tremendous job in the summer of leading by example," Brown said. "Those guys are big and they're using their size to their advantage: 'You better listen to me!'" They're going to lead us to the promised land."
Other locals like Corleone and Briggs are returning starter Eric Phillips from Colerain and Fairfield's Malik Vann who bring plenty of snap experience, as do Justin Wodtly, Derrick Shepard and C.J. Doggette. Newcomers are Jalen Hunt from Michigan State and Kyree Moyston from Virginia Tech.
Technically, he's the "star" position in this defense which is a hybrid nickel back/linebacker, but Deshawn Pace looks to follow the footsteps of his brother Ivan in unleashing sheer terror on offenses. He's started 12 games the past two seasons with 157 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss with five interceptions.
"The position fits him perfectly and hopefully that leads into him becoming a star, which I think he will," Brown said.
Dorian Jones brings experience with the system from Louisville, Dion Hunter is a New Mexico transfer and Daniel Grzesiak is a linebacker/edge rusher from Utah State that could snare some sacks from those trying to prevent the notorious defensive line from face-planting a quarterback.
"DG is what you want in a player," Brown said. "He acts like a pro every day. I was at the Bengals practice the other day and turned around and somebody called me and it was him. He wants to be a pro. He had 8.5 sacks last year at Utah State."
Another name to watch is 6-foot-4, 238-pound redshirt sophomore Jack Dingle who has turned heads.
"Jack had one of the highest speeds from a linebacking standpoint that I've had since I've been coaching," Brown said. "He can run, he likes contact and he's getting a lot more comfortable from a leadership standpoint."
Defensive backs
New are D.J. Taylor from Arizona State and Jordan Young from Florida, who both were once teammates in Gainesville and safety George Udo from BYU. Sammy Anderson brings experience and Bryon Threats and Taj Ward return as starters.
"Taj is like a quarterback for us on the defensive side," Brown said. "We're going to start him at the strong safety spot now. He's a natural-born leader."
Taylor and Young often found the ball during spring practice and Rayquan Adkins from Miami, Florida started school early to be part of spring work.
Mason Fletcher is a Phil Steele and Athlon publication All-American. At 6-foot-7, the son of an Australian rules football legend can flip the field.
"That's a huge weapon!" Glenn said. "You go back and look at really good teams, they're kicking game is important."
Season opener nears
By the time UC arrives at Camp Higher Ground on Aug. 4, they will be less than a month away from the season opener at Nippert Stadium against Eastern Kentucky. The Bearcats and Colonels kick off at 3:30 p.m with the game televised on ESPN+.
"These first couple of weeks are going to be critical," Satterfield said. "We've got some starters that have played a lot of ball. We don't need to see as much of them throughout camp. We've got to get the next guys ready, the twos, the threes, the guys that are going to play, but maybe not as much. How good can we get them? That's going to be the difference in my opinion."

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