Has UC Finally Had A Breakthrough With Top Local Talent?

For years the UC Bearcats struggled to lock down the best high school recruits the Cincinnati area had to offer. Even during the Brian Kelly years when they were regularly ranked in the top 25 and going to BCS Bowls, UC was constantly overlooked by top local talent. Adolphus Washington (Taft) went to Ohio State, Monty Madaris (Moeller) went to Michigan State, Dwayne Stanford (Taft) went to Oregon, Luke Kuechly (St. Xavier) went to Boston College, Andrew Hendrix (Moeller) went to Notre Dame. The list goes on and on.

Cincinnati’s had their share of local players stay home, such as Patrick Coyne (Badin) and Solomon Tentman (Roger Bacon) but never anyone who truly wowed analysts on several levels.

Then came the commitment of La Salle running back Jeremy Larkin last night. The Lancer put himself on several teams’ radars with a junior year that saw him rush for 2,584 yards and 38 touchdowns. He added another 700 yards and four scores through the air to bring his numbers up to demi-god status. And now he’s committed to playing for the Bearcats through 2020.

But is this indicative of a shift in mindset for local recruits? Are they finally viewing UC as a serious program where they can flourish as student athletes in front of family and friends? You’d think the gargantuan press box Cincinnati’s constructing would eventually have an impact on how these players feel about Bearcats football and maybe it has.

It would certainly speak to the ability of this program to overcome all roadblocks thrown at it. Despite the fact that they’re playing in a second tier league, operating under the shadow of several teams not even 100 miles away who are in Power 5 conferences, Cincinnati’s staff was able to land a stud at running back from a local high school. But perhaps we shouldn’t put the cart before the horse. Larkin, while immensely talented with the numbers to prove it, only has P5 offers from Wake Forest, Northwestern, and Boston College.

Not exactly powerhouses at any level.

Flash back four years to when Dwayne Stanford was sitting at a table at Taft High School and put on the Oregon hat over UC’s. The Ducks weren’t the only ones to offer him. Stanford had a list of big name schools vying for his services including Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, and Tennessee just to name a few. The fact that Cincinnati made its way into his top three spoke volumes about how far this program had come. But to claim its taken the next step we need to see UC beat out these schools for those types of recruits.

Larkin might be that player we’ve been waiting for. He’s a high three-star prospect at the moment but, as mentioned, only has a handful of P5 offers to his names and not impressive ones at that. What happens if Ohio State offers him? Or Michigan? It remains to be seen if Cincinnati can hang onto Larkin should they come calling. But if Tommy Tuberville and his staff can get his signature next February, it might open the doors for even better local prospects to commit to playing for the red and black in the future.