Coming off of a spectacular recruiting class in year one of the Fickell reign, year two seemed more like a Super Bowl hangover. There still were some great players to commit in the Early Signing Day, but the star power of lasts year’s class wasn’t seen this year.
A class that is ranked 74th nationally by 247Sports, this is definitely a step back for Luke Fickell. Coming off of a 10-2 regular season in 2018, expectations were much higher for the Bearcats recruiting staff. The roster only had 18 open spots, but the Bearcats seemed to settle for 2-star and lower 3-star players.
Most of these upcoming recruits won’t be playing much in their first couple of years, but kids like Cameron Jones bring raw athleticism for the Bearcats staff to mold and move around. Once again, Fickell is loading up on the defensive line, a position that is loosing veterans Marquise Copeland and Cortez Broughton, both proving to be key players for Marcus Freeman’s defense.
While Fickell has added defensive help, the offensive line, arguably the weakest link in 2018, gained no help. A problem for the Bearcats the past two years continued on Thursday as 3-star OT Adam ElGammal, a former Bearcats commit, verbally committed to Miami. UC obviously doesn’t have the flare or style that Miami brings to the table, but a commit from ElGammal would’ve proven to be a key asset of this year’s class.
It’s also way to early to freak out over this as Cincinnati could still add up to five more players. Last year, the Bearcats added Leonard Taylor and Tavion Thomas to end the class of 2018, both highly recruited players by schools such as Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Big names still remain on the market for a Cincinnati, but this coaching staff will need to step it up and convince these young kids to play for a Group of 5 program.
James Hudson, a transfer from Michigan and a former 4-star OT, was the biggest name added to the Bearcats roster. In this day in age, transfers play a much bigger role in the success of a team. Fickell has made it clear that he wants to keep several spots open for transfers as they use Cincinnati to launch their careers moving forward.
While this class isn’t nearly as prestige as it was last year, it won’t affect the team nearly as much because of the young talent already starting for the Bearcats. Recruiting for a team outside of the big name conferences will always be a challenge, but Fickell has shown his ability to convince kids to stay home and wear the C-Paw on their helmet.