In just his fourth recruiting cycle as head coach, Luke Fickell is continuing to pick up commitments left and right. While his days in Cincinnati may be numbered, Coach Fickell is definitely making them worthwhile, producing both on and off the field for the Bearcats.
From day one, Luke Fickell has put a major emphasis on bringing in local talent to play for the Bearcats. While he’s only picked up two commitments from the Cincinnati area, he’s landed five of them from Ohio, and one from Lexington. Additionally, Cincinnati landed one of the top talents in the Tri-State, that being Evan Prater, a quarterback out of Wyoming High School ranked by 247Sports as the 8th dual-threat quarterback nationally.
In his junior season, Prater led Wyoming to a 15-0 record and a state championship, while throwing for 2,181 yards, 28 touchdowns, and rushing for 1,788 yards and 32 touchdowns. Not to mention, he only threw 4 interceptions the entire season. When Cincinnati picked up Prater, they landed a local kid who knows how to win and contains tremendous talent and upside. Prater also already has a relationship with current quarterback, Desmond Ridder. Under Ridder’s wing, Prater should be able to develop into one of the best quarterbacks Clifton has ever seen.
Earlier this month, Cincinnati landed another big time in-state commitment, this one coming from Deshawn Jones, a cornerback out of Akron East High School. Ranked as the third cornerback prospect in Ohio, Jones also received offers from Michigan, Penn State, and Minnesota. Jones’ commitment marked the second cornerback for Cincinnati with Devin Neal committing a few months earlier. If the Bearcats could land Sammy Anderson, a three-star cornerback from Dayton who just recently visited Cincinnati, Luke Fickell could put an exclamation point on an already deep cornerback slot.
While Luke Fickell has definitely put in some major work for the class of 2020, by no means is it over, as the majority of local talent is still uncommitted, including Darrion Henry, Jaheim Thomas, and Daved Jones. Out of those three, I’m confident a commitment from Jones is coming soon, and I won’t rule out anything from Henry or Thomas, as the Bearcats made both of their top teams lists. If Henry were to commit, he would be the highest ranked Cincinnati recruit of all time by far, and could definitely help bring in Thomas, as they both play for Princeton High School. Henry is announcing his commitment on June 29th, so keep an eye out for that.
Recruiting out of state can’t be overlooked however, as Fickell has worked hard to make his footprint across the nation, primarily the Midwest. In the past few weeks, the Bearcats have landed three out of state prospects, the first of which was Norman Love, a three-star athlete out of Lake Wales, Florida. While Love was more of an under the radar pickup, he did attract some Power 5 interest from Rutgers and Wake Forest. Next was Jake Renfro, a three-star center out of Providence Catholic High School (IL). Renfro marks the fourth offensive line commitment for the class of 2020, and the second player from Illinois, joining John Williams. That list of Illinois commits could get bumped up in the near future, however, as the Bearcats were listed in Willis Singleton’s final four teams a few months back. Singleton is the fourth ranked DT from Illinois, and has also pulled interest from Michigan State, Illinois, and Iowa State. Just three days after Renfro’s commitment, Sterling Miles announced his commitment. Miles is a three-star defensive end out of West Bloomfield, Michigan, and had also received offers from Minnesota, Washington State, and Temple before committing to Cincinnati
While recruiting is obviously huge for a program, it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t produce on the field. Although Fickell’s recruiting has definitely been stellar thus far, we’ll see later this fall whether or not he can follow up with another big season.