The UC Bearcats will have a new starting quarterback in the fall.
On both sides of the ball.
In addition to losing QB Brendon Kay, two-time all-conference middle linebacker Greg Blair – who helped call signals on defense – also exhausted his eligibility last season.
When spring football opened last week, the new man in the middle of the Bearcats defense was Jeff Luc who started at outside linebacker last year.
“Right now Jeff Luc is starting in the middle and we’ll see what he’s got,” said head coach Tommy Tuberville. “He’s a senior, he knows how to play football, he understands it, and he just has to put it all together.”
“I adapted better than I thought I would for the first day,” Luc told me. “It felt like it was my natural position. I’m not just saying that. The calls went well, I was getting the fronts right, and I feel comfortable. I feel like everybody on the defense was working with me and when you have amazing athletes around you, everything is a lot easier.”
“We’re looking at everybody right now and he’s a guy that has some physical tools,” said defensive coordinator Hank Hughes. “We’ll see how everybody progresses in terms of learning their assignments and techniques. He’s a guy that we’re looking forward to being a good player for us.”
“I think we’ve got good speed at linebacker,” said Tuberville. “I think the whole key for us is to get the right guys in the right spots in spring practice.”
After starring at Treasure Coast HS in Florida, Luc was rated as the nation’s top middle linebacker prospect by multiple recruiting services and originally enrolled at Florida State. Although he transferred to Cincinnati after two seasons, Jeff was excited when his former FSU teammates won the national championship last season.
“I’ve been keeping up with them since I left,” said Luc. “I still have a lot of boys there and in my mind they’re still like my brothers. That’s who I came out of high school with, I was there for two years, and I still speak to those guys like three days a week. They’re still a big part of me and that friendship and brotherhood is not going to change.”
In a Sports Illustrated story about Florida State’s victory over Auburn in the BCS Championship, Luc is referred as the “Pied Piper of FSU’s turnaround,” as writer Andy Staples described how Luc’s commitment to Florida State helped head coach Jimbo Fisher build a contender:
Fisher, in one of his first acts as head coach, hosted a group of top recruits on official visits. One of them was Jeff Luc, a Bunyanesque linebacker from Port St. Lucie, Fla. Fellow recruits in the class of 2010 treated Luc like a rock star. They delighted in his slobberknocker-heavy highlight video and shared it on social media. They marveled at his 6’1″, 240-pound physique, which resembled that of a five-year NFL veteran’s. Fisher wanted a grown-ass man, and Luc fit the bill. When he committed to the Seminoles while in Tallahassee on Dec. 5, the other recruits noticed.
“I’m not going to say that it was just because of me,” said Luc. “Lamarcus Joyner and I sat down and said that we should go to school together and see if we could bring some more boys in. I guess he wanted me to make my move first, so when I committed to Florida State he committed and it started rolling. It was a whole bunch of great athletes coming together and wanting to play on the same team.”
Luc was a leader of that highly-touted recruiting class and is expected to be one of Cincinnati’s primary team leaders in 2014.
“I just feel like I have a different role,” Luc told me. “Usually people say that they lead by example, but I think it’s time for me to be more vocal and I’m working on that.”
And in addition to his new role, Jeff has a new number switching from 48 to 1.
“I just wanted something different,” said Luc. “It’s a new year, I’m at a new position, and it’s a new beginning.
“It’s a whole different point of view for me because I’m in the middle of everything and that’s where I want to be.”
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