University of Cincinnati football starts their own March Madness – Cincinnati.com


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WATCH UC football gets extra year for two key Bearcats
Scott Springer, sspringer@enquirer.com

Basketball season’s winding down, baseball season just started and at the Sheakley Athletic Center bubble adjacent to Marge Schott Stadium and Fifth Third Arena, it’s spring football time at the University of Cincinnati.

Luke Fickell’s Military Bowl champion Bearcats began practice Saturday and will continue into mid-April. Key losses to graduation for UC came on both the offensive and defensive lines. Seniors Dino Boyd, Kyle Trout and Garrett Campbell moved on from the left side of the line and center. Defensively, The front three of Kimoni Fitz, Cortez Broughton and Marquise Copeland also finished, leaving large cleats to fill on both sides.

On the upside, the NCAA granted extra years to a couple of experienced large men. Chris Ferguson, who redshirted a year, then didn’t see any action from 2015-17 was granted more eligibility due to an injury. Ferguson was a starter all of last season at right tackle and has further chiseled his 6-foot-5, 300-plus pound frame with football strength coach Brady Collins.

“I’m ecstatic about it because not only do I get another year to perfect my craft and hopefully seek a dream of going to the NFL,” Ferguson said. “I get to be with my guys one more year and hopefully help them get a conference championship back to Cincinnati.”

Ferguson was part of the “Misfit” line last year that played with chips on their shoulders. Dino Boyd was a graduate transfer from Rhode Island, Kyle Trout transferred from Ohio State, Garrett Campbell began as a walk-on, Morgan James started as a hockey player and Ferguson spent four seasons not playing until taking advantage of 2018’s opportunity. 

“We’re already tight,” Ferguson said of this year’s group. “Me and MoJo (Morgan James) on the right side have great chemistry from last year. We’ve got Jakari (Robinson) in the middle who played last year, so he’s good. On the left side we have Coop (Jeremy Cooper) and Hud (Michigan transfer James Hudson). They’re coming along good, they’re listening. We’re all just helping each other out.”

Ferguson is only in his sixth year of football after moving to Orlando, Florida from the Bahamas. He describes his climb to the starting lineup as a long, long journey. 

“We’ve got a bigger target on our back because of what we did last year,” Ferguson said. “Everybody knows what we’re going to do. We’re going to run the ball and force them to stop us. That’s a testament to our training, what Coach Brady (Collins) does and Coach Fick pushes us every day. That’s just the mentality we have.”

Kevin Mouhan, like Ferguson, redshirted in 2014. The 6-2, 245-pound defensive end then saw considerable action the next three seasons. However, he tore an ACL in spring ball last year.  Mouhan also has a sixth year of eligibility and another chance.

“Our defensive line took the strongest hit with everybody leaving,” Mouhon said. “I feel like we need to step into their shoes and take this defense and take charge.”

The brother of former Bearcat Silverberry Mouhon (now playing arena ball in Green Bay) probably was out of sight, out of mind for many Bearcat fans after missing all of last season. He hopes to reintroduce himself to them quickly at Nippert Stadium.

“A lot of people didn’t even know I was hurt,” Mouhon said. “I feel like they’re going to see me in the starting lineup and they’re going to be like, ‘Hey, I remember that player, how hard a player he was.’ Hopefully, I can just excite everyone in the stadium with my presence.”

Mouhon played in nine games in 2015, then all of 2016 and 2017 with 50 and 56 tackles respectively in those seasons. Patience and perseverance, like Ferguson, have been crucial to Mouhon as he again waited his turn to play.

“It hurt,” Mouhon said. “Football has always been my passion. Just being out here and just watching definitely took a toll on me. But, I had a strong support system around me to help through the whole process. Now, I feel like it was yesterday and it passed that quick. I’m excited to be out here and prove to everybody I still have what it takes to be a leader and a strong football player.”

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Mouhon has taken advantage of his time at UC academically, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree. He’s even contemplated the Ph.D., which could make him UC’s first “Doctor Defense”.

New defensive line coach Chad Wilt is also looking forward to the return of Mouhon to the mob of mashers. Wilt will be in charge of replacing last year’s power trio of Fitz, Broughton and Copeland and knows Mouhon has some good tape.

“I hope Kevin Mouhon hasn’t forgotten about Kevin Mouhon,” WIlt said. “He’s an older guy, he has played in games. He can bring that experience. Hopefully, he can take charge here, both as a six-year guy but also off the field in the locker room leading the young guys like Malik Vann and Myjai Sanders and really helping those guys go for it and develop with background and experience.”

UC is less than six months away from their 2019 home opener, Thursday, Aug. 28 with UCLA.


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