Between now and National Signing Day on February 1st marks the busiest two weeks of the year for Coach Jones and his staff. Even though the class of 2012 was all but wrapped up back in November, nothing is certain until every single one of the recruits sign their Letter of Intent with Cincinnati. You can see a full list of UC’s verbals complete with individual profiles here. This period has been a mixed bag for Cincinnati last year as the Bearcats lost a short commitment from Colerain linebacker Andrew Smith because of a late push from Northwestern. At the same time, everybody’s favorite freshman defensive lineman Chad Hannah was a signing day surprise. So it can work both ways for UC.
The good news is that nearly one-third of the class is already enrolled in classes at UC. For all intents and purposes, these nine (9) players are off the board and what’s even better is that they are at key positions that need to be beefed up beginning next season such as quarterback, linebacker, and along the defensive line. These young men will get a leg up on the other recruits in this class and for our sake it’s nice to know that these players will be signing with UC.
But there are some storylines to watch out for as we head into this period of sleepless nights for the coaching staff. They are as follows:
- Alex Pace: This mammoth defensive tackle was a HUGE get for the Bearcats. I can’t emphasize enough how big of a commitment Pace will be to Cincinnati. He takes over games at the high school level because offensive lines simply can’t block him. With Derek Wolfe and John Hughes on their way out the door, snagging Pace will ensure tons of talent on the interior of the line in the future. Why he has claimed he’s a strong verbal to Cincinnati, Pace received an offer from North Carolina. I think he ultimately signs with the Bearcats but, really, you just never know until the paperwork is faxed over.
- Ti’on Green: As far as players to lose, Green is probably the most likely at this point. That’s not to say he’s withdrawing his commitment, but he’s the ‘softest’ verbal of all the prospects. Green has been committed to Cincinnati since October but West Virginia has recently made a late push for him to switch to blue and gold for his college career. He is visiting Morgantown on January 20th. It’s just a waiting game right now to see if Jones can keep Green committed but we will just have to wait until next week to see where he stands.
- Dennis Norfleet: He’s a guy to look out for because of a couple of reasons. First, Norfleet has reiterated his commitment to signing with Cincinnati in a couple of weeks but he has always been the one player on Cincinnati’s recruiting board that might jump ship. Secondly, he was the only UC verbal to be reeled in by Tim Banks, at least according to Rivals. Well, Banks is no longer with the Bearcats and it’s unclear how this will affect Norfleet.
- Sheldon Dawson: A killer defensive back who projects to corner in college, he’s been a Memphis verbal since last July. He came up and visited Clifton during Senior Day against UConn back in early December but didn’t waiver in his commitment to the Tigers. Just about every big program in the country has been after him and even Ohio State offered the young man this past week. Dawson”s been high on Cincinnati and probably has Alex Dale and Nate Cole in his ear to become a Bearcat. He will be visiting Ole Miss this weekend so, like Green, we’ll have to see if anything changes after his trip.
- Monty Madaris: He is Cincinnati and Michigan State’s to lose at this point. Madaris is a big-time prospect who’s garnered a lot of attention for programs around the country. He’s been a Michigan State lean for quite a while but hasn’t verballed yet and has still kept UC in the running. He will be visiting Kentucky this weekend and Florida State the next but unless those schools do something drastic to change his mind, I think he’ll end up signing with either UC or MSU.
The recruiting class of 2012 will be the best in the history of Cincinnati and Bearcats Nation will have all the coverage of this class through National Signing Day on February 1st. While about one-third of the recruits are already on campus and just waiting around to sign their letters of intent. But this is a crazy time for college football programs and we’ll have to keep an eye on the five recruits above to see where they land.