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Getting to Know the 2013 Bearcats: Linebackers and Kirk Willis

Getting to know the 2013 Bearcats has reached the final day. But it has not reached the final post. This is the second to last post in the series. It covers the linebackers and the long snapper. Kirk Willis probably should have been mentioned in the kickers part. I didn't forget about you, man.

If you missed any of the previous installments,  QBs and Kickers, Running Backs, Offensive LinemenReceivers and the Defensive Line just click.

Long Snapper

#61 – Kirk Willis

Kirk Willis is a sophomore from Granville, Ohio. He is the long snapper. He snaps for kicks and for punts. That's what long snappers do. Willis was one of the top snappers in high school. He was a Kohl's camper and he was excited about it. Willis used his excellent snapping skills to get a 4 in 5 deal, which meant UC couldn't recruit a long snapper in 2011. Willis sat out in 2011 as a redshirt. He made 4 tackles last season. He had 2 in the season opener, his first career game. Couldn't keep up the 26 tackle pace. The good thing is that Willis has been a very good snapper. Great job, Kirk. I feel like I have to say great job to make up for using that photo. Sorry, Kirk.

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Linebackers

#51 – Greg Blair

Greg Blair is the best player on the defense. He's on the Bednarik List, he's on the Nagurski List, he's been named the top draft prospect, and of course he's been put on first team all-AAC lists. Add that to the first team all-Big East and he's done a lot since UC has seen the field. Greg earned it with a monster 2012. He led Cincinnati with 138 tackles. He had 9 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 forced fumbles and 8 passes defended. If there was something to do on defense, he did it. Solo tackles? His 68 were second in the league. Assisted tackles? He led the league with 70. He was 6th in the NCAA in total tackles.

Blair's great season started week 1. He had 10 tackles and a pick against Pittsburgh. He had 7 tackles against Delaware St. Blair made himself known nationally again, when he had 13 tackles in the Bearcats victory over Virginia Tech. Greg had just 6 tackles in the Miami blowout, but he added his second INT. He pretty much took the Fordham game off, 3 tackles, before going on a monster streak. Blair had 15 tackles against Toledo. He had 9 solo tackles and 10 assisted tackles in a 19 tackle game at Louisville. He also sacked Teddy Bridgewater and got credit for another half sack. That was followed with a 10 tackle outing against Syracuse. After a 6 tackle game, Blair picked right back up in a huge game. He made 12 tackles against Rutgers, 1 for a loss. Then came 14 tackles against USF, with another tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Blair had 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack against UConn. In the final game of the season with all the lights on, Blair had 15 tackles against Duke. He forced a huge fumble as well. There is nothing that he couldn't do in 2012.

That's a high standard to live up to. Greg Blair is going to be expected to repeat the dominance and also step it up a notch. All eyes are going to be on him. He had some pressure on him last year, but with the preseason accolades and the hype, he's got to keep his head down and be Greg Blair. It was great last year.

#48 – Jeff Luc

Jeff is the highly regarded transfer from Florida State. Luc was highly regarded coming out of high school. He was a 4 star recruit. He was rated 75th overall by maxpreps. He was ESPN's 11th ranked prospect. No matter where he ranked on the list, everyone regarded him as one of the best linebackers in the class. As a Seminole, Luc had 8 tackles his freshman year and 15 as a sophomore. 3 of those went for losses. He had 5 tackles at Oklahoma and 5 tackles against Louisiana-Monroe. He put up 4 tackles against Boston College in his last statistical outing as a Seminole. Luc was on special teams most of his career.

Jeff Luc is coming into Cincinnati with a lofty reputation. He has been turning heads because of his natural talent. He hasn't had a chance to display it in game action yet. He's one of the players I'm looking forward to watching the most this season.

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#43 – Nick Temple

Temple is the only player on the roster who shares his name with a UC opponent. Nick is a junior from Warren Central in Indianapolis. He's played in all 26 games as a Bearcat. Temple has made 89 tackles. 8 of those have been for loss. He's picked up a couple of sacks. He's forced a fumble. He's got a pair of interceptions. You might remember he took one to house against Duke. As a freshman, Temple had 35 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1 INT and 1 forced fumble. Last year he had 54 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks and 1 INT. He also broke up 5 passes. Nick started his career with 4 tackles against Austin Peay. He assisted on 3 against Louisville before breaking out with 5 against USF. He picked things up at the end of his freshman season with a pair of 3 tackle games and a 4 tackle game against UConn. The Liberty Bowl was where he shined. Temple had a career best 8 tackles and a key interception.

2012 got off to a quick start for Temple. He had 5 tackles, including his first career sack, against Pitt. After a quiet 2 weeks, he turned it on the rest of the season. 6 tackles against Miami was followed by 4, 5 and 4. That was just the beginning. He closed with another major flourish. He matched his career best with 8 tackles and a defended pass against Rutgers. That was followed with 6 tackles against USF. Connecticut couldn't handle him at all. Temple made 7 tackles. 3.5 for them went for a loss. 1 of those was a sack. Nick had 6 tackles against Duke and the game icing INT for a 55 yard score.

We've seen some of the potential that Nick Temple can unleash. He could be overshadowed by the bigger names on defense. Or he could be the one to outshine them.

#33 – Solomon Tentman

Solomon Tentman is a junior from a school I don't have to write because it sucks. Solomon Tentman has one of the best stories on the team. It's one of perseverance. He was highly touted locally, the GCL defensive player of the year, but a horrible knee injury before his freshman season looked like it could end his career. He was able to work himself into playing shape. In 2011 he saw action in 5 games. He made 3 tackles. He would become a bigger part of the defense last year. He was listed as the starter going into spring ball. It didn't work out the way he wanted, but he still played in 9 games last year. He made 20 tackles. Like everyone else it seems, he had his first tackle in 2011 against Austin Peay. He added tackles against Akron and Rutgers. Solly started off big in 2012 with 5 tackles, including 0.5 for loss, in the season opener. He had a couple of big weeks in November. He had 4 tackles in the Temple blowout followed by 5 tackles against Rutgers. He closed the season with tackles in 3 straight games.

Tentman is slated to be the backup to Greg Blair. I hope he gets a chance at more playing time this season, even if it isn't at middle linebacker. Solomon is a fun guy to root for. He's also one of the best Bearcats on twitter. That's not being a kiss ass, he doesn't even follow me. I hope big things happen for him. Even though he went to a clearly inferior high school.

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#57 – Clemente Casseus

Clemente Casseus is a bad ass name.  He even went to the Everglades for high school. Doesn't get much more bad ass than that. The Miami native has seen himself go from a guy who plays in blowouts, to a nice role player to a backup. He's currently slated as Jeff Luc's backup. Casseus has 20 tackles to his name. 8 of them came in two games as a freshman. He made 3 stops against Austin Peay. He exploded with 5 against Akron. He had tackles for loss in both games, the only two of his career. Casseus played in 11 games last year. He assisted on tackles against Delaware St and Miami. He had 3 stops against Fordham and 3 more against Temple. Casseus saw a lot of action against Rutgers. He responded with 4 tackles. Clemente is someone who has developed in a very good player.

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#44 – Corey Mason

Corey Mason is #10 in that photo. He's a junior from Elder. He's played in 23 games as a Bearcat. Corey has primarily been on various special teams. Has to be on the field goal or punt return teams or something if he's not getting a lot of stats. He played in 10 games in 2011 with nothing. Last season, he played in every game. He had stats. Those stats were 5 tackles. He had 2 in the opener against Pitt. He had 1 each against Virginia Tech, Miami and Rutgers. His bio says "one of the most underrated players in Cincinnati." That's a very odd thing for a bio to say. Maybe that's true because Mason is listed as the backup for Nick Temple. He's proving that hard work turns heads. It doesn't turn cameras though. 2 years and no photos of him in uniform.

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#40 – Kevin Brown

Kevin is a sophomore from Lawrence Central in Indianapolis. He was a 3 star recruit coming out of high school. He played defensive back then and he played defensive back last season. This year, he's obviously listed as a linebacker because this is a piece about linebackers. Brown made 10 tackles last season. He defended 2 passes. He made his first tackle against Delaware St. He had 2 against Fordham. When he finally played real competition, he had 3 tackles against Syracuse. He defended a pass against Temple. He finished the year strong with 3 tackles against South Florida. Brown will probably see time in games that are not close. There is no real shame in that. Some players don't see action in any game.

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#41 – Kevin Hyland

Kevin Hyland is a sophomore from Elder. He's listed as a linebacker but will probably see most of his work as the backup long snapper. He played in 4 games last year. They were Pitt, Delaware St, Va Tech and Miami. That means he probably snapped in all of them. I'm sure he snapped well. He didn't play in any other games so maybe he didn't. Maybe that's why he's gripping the ball so tightly while someone feels his muscles.

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#53 – Franklin Bruscianelli

Franklin is a redshirt freshman from Woodridge, Illinois. He set his high school's record for tackles in a season with 195. He was all conference, all state and all area. I don't know what area, but that's pretty accomplished. Frankie B had 360 tackles in high school. He gets after it. He also was noted for his academics, being an academic all conference for 2 seasons. What were you doing in 2010, Franklin? Hit the books, my man. If the Bruscianelli name means something to you, Franklin's father Jack was a 2 time letter player for Cincinnati in the late 80s and was the team captain in 1989.

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#45 – Ey'Shawn McClain

Ey'Shawn is certainly one of the most unique names in Cincinnati football history. I've never seen it before or since. McClain is a redshirt freshman from Jacksonville. He was a rivals 3 star and a scout 2 star. It is not easy to find high school stats. I saw some thing on a message board that says he's an impressive guy, but he needs to work on playing laterally. It's also said he can play all 3 positions. It sounds like once he learns the college game, he's going to be a force.

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#38 – Mason Antoun

Mason is a sophomore who went to Reading. Along with the fact he's 6'1, 225 pounds, that's all his bio says about him. Mason didn't play last year. He probably won't play this year. He probably isn't on scholarship. The good news for him is that he's on a college football team. He got a Big East ring last season. That's living the life. As you can easily see, Antoun is Mr. Bio Photo.

#32 – Zach Higgenbotham

Zach Higginbotham played his high school ball at Country Day. He was pretty damn good. He was the Enquirer Divisions V-VI tri-player of the year. I'm sure that's a good thing. He had 110 tackles last season, which is a great thing. He's a preferred walk on. He looks like a football player. I'm sure he will be the guy to go all Rudy on everyone. In the good ways of course. My religion teacher use to always say that the real Rudy was a bad guy. Yeah, we watched Rudy in religion class. I don't know why either. I guess because Notre Dame. The religion teacher now Badin's head coach, Bill Tenore. True story.

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#23 – Eric Wilson

Eric Wilson is a transfer from Northwestern. He redshirted his only year there. He was a two time practice player of the week. So he was good at that. He can't play this year because of the transfer. There are no pictures of him. He's Mr. Bio Photo II.

#37 – Lindsay Crook

Lindsay has a great story. He's a former rugby player from Australia. He looks like he would be good at football. Probably. Crook is listed last though because he suffered a knee injury in practice and is out for the season. Tough break. He'll bounce back. Hopefully he will cheer up by quoting Crocodile Dundee on twitter. speaking of that, that's where this picture is from.

Lindsay Crook twitter

Scott

About Scott

I write Bearcats Blog and also on the Student Section.

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