In less than a month, the UCLA Bruins will be heading to Nippert Stadium to mark the start of the 2019 football season for the Cincinnati Bearcats. In preparation of that game, we’ll be going through each position group on the roster, and breaking down said group. Next up, we’re talking about the wide receivers.
Last season, Kahlil Lewis was far and away the leader of this position group. In his senior year, Lewis led the Bearcats in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions by significant margins, and was clearly the most consistent target on the roster. With Lewis gone, there’s a huge opportunity for someone to step up.
The most obvious candidate to take that number one spot would be Rashad Medaris, a senior who started off at Western Illinois, but after redshirting his first season, transferred to Cincinnati. As a sophomore, Medaris led the Bearcats in yards per reception with 18.2, which was good enough to finish third in the American in that category. As you could probably infer from that last stat, Medaris was a dangerous downfield threat. While his three touchdown receptions last season might not seem all that impressive, two of them were receptions of over 50 yards. Due to his smaller frame, he’ll most likely be lining up in the slot, but nevertheless, you can expect Medaris to be receiving a large portion of targets this year.
The second player who appears to have a spot all locked up is Alec Pierce, a true sophomore who still has yet to record a reception in his collegiate career. However, Pierce has proved he’s up for the challenge by working his way up the depth chart this offseason. Out of high school, Pierce was a three-star recruit, and received scholarships from Army, Navy, and Miami (OH) among others. His 6’3”, 212 pound frame combined with his blazing speed and ability to high point passes make Pierce a very likely candidate to breakout for the Bearcats this season.
There wasn’t a ton of certainty as to who would fill in that third receiver spot, but that all ended yesterday, when Cincinnati released their two deep depth chart. Along with Medaris and Pierce, Trent Cloud was named a starter. Last year as a redshirt freshman, Cloud didn’t see very many targets, but nonetheless, made his mark in the final game of the season against Virginia Tech. He put up three catches for 35 yards, and while that may not seem like much, Cloud had only caught two passes for a combined fourteen yards prior to this performance. Originally, Cloud was committed to Toledo, but later decommited in favor of the Bearcats, while also receiving interest from Wisconsin and Buffalo as well. Although Cloud may lack in experience, the coaching staff clearly sees his talent and potential to be a huge playmaker for this team.
While he may not see the field a whole lot early on in the season, L’Christian “Blue” Smith is definitely a player to be excited about. Earlier this offseason, Smith announced his transfer from Ohio State to Cincinnati, and was granted immediate eligibility. Smith was one of the most highly recruited athletes in the country, and was ranked 126th overall nationally and fifth among athletes, according to 247Sports.com. Smith was touted as a great route runner, with great size, checking in at 6’6”, 200 pounds. He used this massive size advantage against the majority of defensive backs and was able to catch nearly everything thrown at him. While Smith may not have recorded any stats in the scarlet and grey as a freshman, he’s primed for a huge career in Cincinnati.
One player that adds some really great depth to this group is Thomas Geddis, a senior out of Pompano Beach, FL. Last season, Geddis finished the year with 20 receptions for 228 yards and a touchdown, while appearing in all but one game. His stats actually regressed a fair amount from his sophomore year, where he caught 29 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Nevertheless, Geddis is easily one of the more reliable pass catchers on this team, and should be seeing some solid numbers.
Jayshon Jackson is a player I’m really excited about for this upcoming season. While he only recorded more than three receptions in one game once, he was one of the most consistent receivers. He finished the year with the third most receiving yards among receivers for the Bearcats, and two receiving touchdowns to go along with it. Out of high school, he was a three star recruit, and named among Chicago’s best wide receivers. While Rashad Medaris will be starting over him this year, his smaller size and quickness lines him up to be a really nice rotation player for the slot.
A few other players that will likely find their way into the rotation this year are T, Malik Mbodj, Garyn Prater, and Yanez Rodgers. While these names might not make the immediate impact the others will, they’re all quality players overall, and create a really solid group regarding depth. With quarterback Desmond Ridder heading into his sophomore season, expect the coaching staff to be more comfortable with him throwing the ball more, which means this group of players are gonna need to do their absolute best to help out their young quarterback. All in all, this position group is extremely talented from top to bottom, and could easily be one of the best in the conference.