UC football takes stage at Big 12 Media Days making history

ARLINGTON, Texas – On the 13th day of July the team rated preseason No. 13 out of a 14-team Big 12 by the media met their critics as preview activities continued at AT&T Stadium. UC quarterback Emory Jones Jr. was a Florida Gator at the time and new Bearcats coach Scott Satterfield had just finished a fourth-place ACC season with the Louisville Cardinals. UC Big 12Evan Prater will play a new position for the Cincinnati Bearcats this fall UC Big 12What Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark had to say about Cincinnati joining conference On this Thursday, the Bearcats were making their Big 12 media debut having to answer the awkward question of why they were chosen to finish second to last only ahead of West Virginia. Addressing No. 13 Scott Satterfield mentioned the not-so-flattering ranking Wednesday before boarding the plane with his contingent of 'Cats representing UC at AT&T Stadium. "They were kind of moanin' and groanin', basically it was, 'We'll show them!' " he said. "You can use it in a number of different ways, but when you're picked toward the bottom, every single day you train you have to train like you're trying to prove something." Satterfield says the upside is the guys that have been playing in the Big 12 don't have any history with UC, nor have many played at Nippert Stadium. "We have to use a lot of that to our advantage," Satterfield said. "They don't know our players or how we do things offensively or defensively." Veteran defensive lineman Jowon Briggs gave a diplomatic answer, while sophomore teammate Dontay Corleone brushed it off like a would-be blocker. "I'm the kind of guy who likes to put their head down and work," Briggs said. "I put my horse blinders on and just go to work. Preseason, XYZ all those things, I don't really know what they are. I'm just really here to do my best for the team and continue on with that slogan, effort, attitude and toughness every day." Corleone simply said, "We try to stay away from social media in the locker room". Quarterback/receiver news Jones was the lone offensive player brought to the event, so he appears the starter by process of elimination. Ben Bryant has transferred to Northwestern, Jones looked sharp in the spring scrimmage, and prior to taking the stage Thursday, Satterfield revealed former Ohio Mr. Football had been switched to wide receiver. Jones appeared in a silver suit with a butterfly bow tie and chain that read "Cinco". Jones will wear No. 5 and it's also the name of his 105-pound pit bull. He's excited over the recent addition of Xzavier Henderson, a former teammate of his at Florida in 2021. "Having a guy like him that has some experience, he's fast, we definitely have a lot of chemistry," Jones said. "I threw a couple touchdowns to him. I'm excited to see what he'll do this year." Henderson will also have former Gators on the defensive side in Jordan Young and D.J. Taylor. For Jones, Henderson won't be the only deep threat. "We've got some fast guys on the outside like Xzavier and we've got Dee Wiggins who transferred from Louisville and Donovan Ollie is a big, strong guy who can make any catch on the field," Jones said. "We've got a lot of fast guys that we got from transfers." Add in Prater who Jones calls one of the best athletes on the team and the new quarterback sounds comfortable. "He's smart and played the quarterback position," Jones said. "He knows the areas of the field he needs to be in, different types of zones when to sit down, when to keep running. He's definitely going to help us out." And, Jones had the same trainer as Louisville's Malik Cunningham, Satterfield's previous quarterback. While he didn't run much in spring as a precaution, he has a resume that includes 758 rushing yards in the SEC in 2021. UC's defensive representatives Thursday are from Cincinnati high schools Briggs is from Walnut Hills and will finish his career as a Bearcat after initially going to Virginia. He's played in all 27 games the past two seasons, including UC's last trip to AT&T Stadium in the College Football Playoff semifinal vs. Alabama. Briggs is proud of his local background as are Colerain products Dontay Corleone and Deshawn Pace. Corleone is just a sophomore but is riding a wave of recent popularity after being named Pro Football Focus' highest-rated defensive lineman as a freshman. As a sophomore, he was UC's lone representative on the Big 12 Preseason First Team. "When I get these awards it's not about being satisfied, I just want more!" Corleone said. "I know I can get those awards, I just want to get better." Corleone also mentioned Colerain High's Eric Phillips and Malik Vann of Fairfield. He's also a big fan of new strength coach Niko Palazeti who challenged him to be a vocal, lean machine. "He also helped me get faster too, which is key," Corleone said. "He's a guy that's very important to me. We've got a close relationship. It's a great feeling to have a guy that actually cares and wants to see you strive to be better." Pace says he knew he and Corleone would be on such a stage at some point. Now as his brother Ivan Pace Jr. has moved on, he has moved to the "star" position, a hybrid defensive spot that's allowed him freedom to roam and make plays. He has responded as expected. "They should have named it, "The Joker," Batman fan Pace said. "I just like him because he's the best villain of all time to me. I feel he could have beat Batman multiple times!" Asked about being a villain Pace said, "I play defense, so definitely." Satterfield quick hits On running backs "It's probably going to be by committee as I see it. Guys get dinged here and there, particularly in that room. We're going to want to run the football, so hopefully they'll stay healthy. August camp is going to be really big for us. We're going to have to come together as an offense. The running back room is kind of the one room that stayed intact." On offensive line "Gavin Gerhardt is the only starter we have coming back. We brought a starter from Louisville, Cincinnati kid (Luke Kandra) that's going to be a great player for us. We brought a player in from Kentucky, (Deondre) Buford, so we've got some more pieces to the puzzle that enable us to be more competitive up front." Quarterback room (back-ups) "I'm excited about the next couple of guys competing for the job there. We did sign a freshman out of Michigan, (Brady) Drogosh that I think is going to be outstanding. He's put on 22 pounds since January, 6-3, 212 somewhere in that range. You do have to have another one (besides Emory Jones Jr.). We want to utilize the legs in the quarterback room." On training at Camp Higher Ground in August "You just come together as a football team out there. You're practicing, you're lifting weights, you're training, doing all those things. We're there as one big family. That's where you become a team. We really need that more than anything knowing we're going to face adversity. I heard the food is really good. The people that run Higher Ground really love Cincinnati football. It's a grind, it's football from the time you get up to the time you go to bed. We'll try to have some fun in the middle of all that." The Big 12 Championship Trophy on display during the first day of Big 12 Media Days in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, July 12, 2023. How did UC debut in previous leagues? The Big 12 is UC's eighth football league. The Bearcats' inaugural years in the other leagues had mixed results. The Ohio Conference The Bearcats entered this league in 2010 under coach Robert Burch and finished 2-1. The season featured a 23-0 loss to Ohio State but a 3-0 victory over the Miami boys from Oxford. The Buckeye Conference In 1926 George McLaren's men won nary a game in the league as their 0-3-1 finish featured only a 6-6 tie with Miami. The Mid-American Conference Ray Nolting's Bearcats went 7-3 in 1947 and were MAC champs at 3-1. Alas, that included a disheartening loss to Miami 38-7. Missouri Valley Conference Under George Blackburn in 1957, the Bearcats went 5-4 overall but just 1-3 for fourth place in their new league. (From 1970-1995 UC played football as an independent) Conference USA In 1996 UC made its debut in Conference USA but was defeated at Nippert by Tommy Bowden's Tulane squad 34-14. Their first C-USA win came later in the year against Houston 31-20. The team was 6-5 but 2-3 in the league for third place. Big East At the time in 2005, it was a big jump for Mark Dantonio's Bearcats, but his second team was very young (though featuring future NFL players Connor Barwin, Haruki Nakamura and Brent Celek). UC was 4-7 and just 2-5 in the Big East losing their league opener to Pitt 38-20. Their first Big East win came vs. Connecticut with Elder High School's Bradley Glatthaar running for 123 yards and two touchdowns. American Athletic Conference 2013 saw much-ballyhooed coach Tommy Tuberville leading the Bearcats into the AAC with a 9-4 mark and a 6-2 third-place finish. They lost their AAC debut at South Florida 26-20, then notched a league triumph over Temple 38-20 with Brendon Kay throwing two touchdown passes to Anthony McClung. Big 12 Scott Satterfield will lead his men onto the turf at Nippert Stadium Saturday, Sept. 23 as the Bearcats play their Big 12 opener against the Oklahoma Sooners.

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