Category: Uncategorized

Tyson Hopes To Hear Name In NFL Draft

In the classic children’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” young Charlie Bucket finds a golden ticket in a Wonka Bar.

For former Bearcats football player Mike Tyson, the golden ticket to the NFL Scouting Combine arrived in his inbox.

Mike Tyson combine

“I got an email in December so I got one of the early invites,” said Tyson. “I was home in Virginia when I got the email and I looked at it and it said ‘Congratulations.’ I was so excited that I was crying and everything. It was one of the best emails that I ever got.

“The combine was a great experience. Getting the exposure, meeting all of the players from the other schools, and getting a feel for how everything will be when you’re around NFL coaches. It was fun.”

(Click here to watch his combine workout)

The 6’1”, 204 pound safety was timed at 4.56 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, did 17 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press, and had a vertical jump of 33 inches.

“I honestly think I did well in everything, but the defensive back drills were probably the thing I did best,” Mike told me. “Since I played nickel (at Cincinnati), teams wanted to see if I could play safety – can I move my hips and stuff like that. I did really well. So I’m pretty satisfied with what I did.

“You never know who’s watching at the combine. You have to be ready to do whatever – long days, long nights, less sleep, whatever they ask. You don’t know what you’re in for to be honest with you. You hear the rumors but you don’t know until you’re actually there. It was a blessing to be one of the 330 people invited. I wish there could have been more of my teammates, but it was a blessing to represent the University of Cincinnati.”

East Carolina v Cincinnati

Although the Bearcats had a disappointing year in 2016 going 4-8, Tyson had an excellent season as he led UC with five interceptions and finished sixth on the team in tackles.

In February, AthlonSports.com listed Tyson as “one of five players who could impress during the combine” and wrote the following:

Make no mistake, this kid is capable of making a name for himself. He’s an intelligent safety, rarely out of position and always close to the ball. He’s as seasoned as any safety in the draft, as he started accruing snaps early as a freshman. Athletically, look for him to hang with the top prospects in his position group, while his knowledge of the game and maturity set him apart during the interview process. He has all of the makings of a solid, long-term starter at the next level.

One thing that should work in Tyson’s favor is the versatility that he displayed at Cincinnati. As the nickel in the Bearcats’ 4-2-5 base defense under the former coaching staff, Mike was a hybrid linebacker/safety who played a key role in stopping the run but also had to defend slot receivers in pass coverage.

“That ability is important to NFL teams because of all the talent you have at slot receiver,” said Tyson. “You’ve got big, fast, athletic tight ends. You’ve got tall outside receivers moving inside. And you’ve got a bunch of small, skimpy types of dudes. It was good exposure for me and shows that you can hold your own. As a safety I’m comfortable moving into the box to stop the run if they want to do that. Or if they want to use me as a defensive back in the nickel or the dime they know I can do that. Whatever they need me to do.”

The three-day NFL draft begins on Thursday and while Tyson hopes to hear his name called, he knows that he doesn’t need to get drafted to make an NFL roster.

“I’m not the type of guy to try to get my hopes up,” said Tyson. “I’m hearing middle rounds is possible, but we’ll see what happens. I know I’m going to be in somebody’s camp – that’s a guarantee. Hopefully I’ll get drafted but if I don’t, it’s no big deal. I’ll still go to somebody’s camp and prove what I have.”

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1

 

Bengals Kick Off 50th Year Celebration

(I was given the opportunity to co-host the Bengals 50th Anniversary Kickoff Celebration on Thursday with my broadcasting partner Dave Lapham. Here were my opening remarks. Who Dey!)

The year was 1968.

Three US Astronauts orbited the moon.

A gallon of gas was 34 cents. The first Big Mac went on sale that year for 49 cents.

Simon and Garfunkel had us singing “Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson…”

Gomer Pyle had us laughing in front of the TV

And Rosemary’s Baby scared the you-know-what out of us at the movie theater.

And on a Friday night, September 6th of that year, the Cincinnati Bengals played their first regular season game.

In the 49 seasons since, Bengals fans have watched Ken Anderson pick apart defenses with pinpoint accuracy and Boomer Esiason expertly run the no-huddle.

We’ve seen Tim Krumrie play hurt, Carson Palmer launch spirals, and Ickey Woods do the shuffle.

But we never saw Jim Breech miss an overtime field goal attempt.

We’ve cheered for Bob, Pete, Rudi, Michael and a total of 26 players named Johnson…including one who changed that to Ocho Cinco.

And this year we’ll cheer for current stars like AJ Green, Andy Dalton, Tyler Eifert, Geno Atkins, and Carlos Dunlap.

We’ll never forget the minus 59-degree wind chill at the Freezer Bowl…Corey Dillon running angry for 278 yards…or “you don’t live in Cleveland!”

Not to mention trips to Super Bowl 16 in Pontiac and Super Bowl 23 in Miami.

Feel free to forget Montana to Taylor.

We can proudly say that the greatest offensive lineman of all-time played for the Bengals … Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz … and this franchise would not exist if not for the most innovative coach of all-time…perhaps in any sport…the Bengals founder and first head coach Paul Brown.

The Bengals Golden Anniversary season begins at home on September 10th vs. Baltimore. Here’s hoping it ends on February 4th at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

 

 

Mouhon Ends At Right Position

Kevin Mouhon was one of Cincinnati’s most productive defensive ends last season, leading the team with 9.5 tackles-for-loss. But when the Bearcats opened spring practice under new head coach Luke Fickell, Mouhon took the field at linebacker where he had starred in high school.

The experiment lasted for one week.

“I was hoping to make the transition back to linebacker,” Kevin told me. “But we already had a lot of depth at linebacker and I spent last season at defensive end. So Coach Fickell talked to me and said, ‘I know the position just for you – jack linebacker.’ I really love the position.”

Here’s where it gets a little confusing. The “jack” linebacker is primarily a defensive end who has the ability to drop back in pass coverage.

“I think we put him back at his home,” said Fickell. “Some of our third down stuff gives him the ability to stand up and do some of those (linebacker) things, so he still has the ability to show what he can do. But I think he’s most natural with his hand on the ground going forward. After a week I kind of sat down and talked with him and told him that I thought he was one of our best 11 guys. He brings the things that we want – the effort and the energy. We want to put him at a position where I think he can be most successful.”

photo

The return to defensive end puts Mouhon under the tutelage of new defensive line coach Al Washington who had the same title last year at Boston College. Under Washington, the Eagles finished second in the nation in sacks and sixth in tackles-for-loss.

“Mouhon is a very intelligent football player,” said Washington. “He has great instincts, he’s very explosive, and what we’re trying to do right now is develop the fundamentals so that he can become more consistent. I think he’s a first, second, and third down defensive end. Whatever you tell the kid to do, he’ll do it and I’m very excited to see his development.”

“I’m looking to have more TFLs and sacks this year and build on the repertoire of the things I can do,” said Mouhon.

Kevin is the younger brother of former UC defensive end Silverberry Mouhon and was one of the most highly-touted recruits to sign with Cincinnati in recent years. Kevin played in the prestigious Army All-American game following his senior year of high school and chose UC over Tennessee, Florida State, and Ohio State among others.

“All of that hype was just high school hype,” Mouhon told me. “That can have a negative impact on a player. When I came in I wasn’t really mature yet and that really took a toll on me. I wish I would have had a fresh start and not have come in the way that I came in. But I’m definitely more humble now and I’m just trying to make plays and build up my name again.”

And he’s confident that he’s been put in the right position on defense to do so.

“I was at linebacker at the beginning of camp, but Coach Fickell had a better idea for me with the jack linebacker spot,” said Mouhon. “I feel like I can make big plays at jack linebacker and help the team overall.”

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1

 

Speed Trumps Size For LB Young

Perry Young does not have the size of a prototypical linebacker.

Perry Young vs temple

“I am 5’10½” – 5’11” on a good day – and I weigh 210,” Perry told me with a laugh. “I base my whole game on being fast and physical and finding the ball. Most of the time that makes up for my height and weight.”

Young is sufficiently athletic that if he were a few inches taller and about 20 pounds heavier, I suspect that the sophomore from Birmingham, AL might be playing for Alabama or Auburn instead of Cincinnati.

“Everything happens for a reason,” said Young. “God didn’t make me 240 pounds and a little taller for some reason and I feel like I followed the right path. I really love it here and I’m just thankful that I’m here.”

The Bearcats’ new coaching staff is happy to have him. Despite receiving limited playing time as a freshman, Young tied for eighth on the team in tackles last season and he’s been working with the first unit at outside linebacker during spring practice.

“If you’re not physical you can’t play linebacker,” said defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman. “I don’t care how big he is, he’s physical enough and athletic enough to play the linebacker position at a high level.”

Young was recruited as a defensive back, but quickly changed positions.

“I came in as a nickel or safety, but as time went by they saw that I was a pretty physical kid,” said Young. “When I was matched up with wideouts I used to beat them up first and cover later. So they said, ‘Hey, do you want to try linebacker out?’ I’ve been playing it ever since and I really enjoy it.”

Under the previous coaching staff the Bearcats’ base defense was a 4-2-5 alignment where the fifth defensive back was a hybrid safety/linebacker. But that is not how Young is expected to be used in 2017.

“In our defense we consider him an outside linebacker,” said Freeman. “I know that there are different terms, but it’s all about what you’re asking that guy to do. In our defense we’re asking him to do a lot. It’s a specific type of player to play that SAM linebacker position, but we consider him a linebacker.”

Young is learning the nuances of the position from Freeman who was a second team All-Big Ten linebacker at Ohio State in 2008 and a fifth-round draft pick by the Chicago Bears.

“It’s a difficult position at first, but Coach Freeman is taking the time to coach me and all of the other SAM linebackers,” said Young. “Our defense is based on it being a physical and simple game. They’re doing a good job of coaching it because it’s coming natural to us.

“Coach Freeman is a really high-tempo guy. He’s young and he knows how to relate to the players. I feel like I can always go to him when I have a problem. I feel really comfortable around him and I feel like he always wants to talk to us. I think he’s a really great guy and I’m looking to him being my coach for the next few years.”

Freeman won’t have to worry about Young giving maximum effort.

“Perry is a guy that no matter whether he is right or wrong, he’s just going,” said Freeman. “That’s what we preach around here – effort and attitude. He’s a guy that gives 100% effort every time that he’s on the field.”

When I spoke with Young after a recent practice, it appeared that he didn’t want to leave the field.

“I love being out here, love the contact, and love the high energy,” he said. “Yeah we’re going to get tired, but if you love it, you really just want to go hard for yourself and all of your brothers out here. There’s never a moment where I’m not smiling or dancing around when I’m out there.

“I’m actually sad that practice is over.”

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1

 

Cogswell Hopes For Expanded Role In 2017

When Luke Fickell hired Mike Denbrock to be his offense coordinator at Cincinnati, UC tight end Tyler Cogswell immediately went to Google to learn more about the former Notre Dame assistant coach.

“That was the first thing I did,” said Cogswell. “I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ I had no idea he had been the tight ends coach. I saw that and it was an eye-popper.’

Especially after seeing that Denbrock had coached four NFL tight ends at Notre Dame including Pro Bowlers Tyler Eifert and Kyle Rudolph.

“It’s awesome having a guy that taught and produced tight ends like that,” said Cogswell. “Knowing how much productivity they had at the college level was awesome to see.

“With his knowledge and experience with all of the tight ends that he produced at Notre Dame and with (UC tight ends coach Doug) Phillips teaching us and having them combined – it’s really been fun. I’ve already learned so much. I’ve been able to watch film of so many guys that Coach Denbrock has produced. It’s fun hearing his insight on how to get better every day.”

Denbrock had a wide variety of assignments during his two stints (2002-04 and 2010-16) at Notre Dame. In addition to coaching tight ends, he served as offensive coordinator in 2014 and also coached offensive tackles and wide receivers during his tenure with the Fighting Irish.

A constant during much of his time in South Bend was extensive use of the tight end in the passing game. Should we expect to see that at Cincinnati now that he’s calling the plays?

“We would be excited to have that be a big piece of what we do,” said Denbrock. “That’s kind of what we’re doing out here. We’re determining as we go through spring football some of the pecking order if you will of who is going to earn the chance to touch the football and how we’re going to direct our offense as we move forward.

“We can play with five wide receivers on the field and we can play with three tight ends on the field. It’s just a matter of what gives us the best opportunity to win and that’s kind of what spring ball is about. We’re trying to figure out some of those answers as we go.”

During Cincinnati’s first seven spring practices, Cogswell has been a frequent target in passing drills.

“Tyler has done a fantastic job,” said Denbrock. “I guess I’ve been a little pleasantly surprised by his ability to run and catch the ball. If you watched the last couple of years you obviously didn’t see a lot of the tight end in the passing game. As much as I like to use them, his ability to get down the field and do some things catching the football has been nice to see.”

“We’re getting more opportunities at the tight end position,” said Cogswell. “All of us have caught a lot of balls this spring and I think we’re making the most of it right now. If we can be consistent and keep showing that we can do this on a daily basis, I think it would be big for the team.”

Last year, Cogswell finished with just two catches for 42 yards but he did provide perhaps the biggest offensive highlight of the season. In the final game of the year against Tulsa, the former high school quarterback caught a backward pass from Hayden Moore and then tossed it back across the field to the UC quarterback who ran untouched 29 yards for a touchdown.

But Cogswell’s role in the trick play was overshadowed by the offensive line as all five members intentionally fell to the ground on the first pass before jumping to their feet and providing a clear path for Moore to run into the end zone.

“That was Thanksgiving week so we called the play ‘Turkey,’” said Cogswell. “We practiced it all week and I had no idea that the lineman fell down until we saw it in the game. In practice I was focusing on catching it and throwing it and I didn’t see the lineman fall. The lineman kind of took away from my touchdown a little bit. Everyone was talking about the lineman and I thought I threw a crisp, 45-yard ball across the field. That was fun.”

The senior might not get another opportunity to throw a touchdown pass, but it appears likely that he’ll play a significant role in the Bearcats offense in 2017.

“I love him as an in-line blocker and that’s going to be a great asset to what we do,” said Denbrock. “And we’ve done some things with moving him around in formations and he’s a smart guy and can pick things up very well. It’s exciting what he’s bringing to the table.”

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1

 

Kiel Pursues NFL Dream

It was 32 degrees with a wind chill in the 20’s when a visibly-slimmer Gunner Kiel ran the 40-yard dash for NFL scouts on Wednesday.

Shirtless.

Gunner running 40

Was the former UC quarterback showing off his cold weather toughness or his six-pack abs?

“A little bit of both,” Gunner told me with a laugh.

Kiel was one of 20 former Bearcats who took part in UC’s Pro Timing Day at the Sheakley Athletics Center. Since the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis was held one week later than in previous years, Cincinnati’s Pro Day was pushed back and took place after the practice bubble had been taken down.

Gunner admits that he was initially concerned when he learned that the workout would take place outdoors.

“I felt a lot better when I talked to my quarterback coach and he said, ‘That’s awesome.’” said Kiel. “He said, ‘If it rains, if it snows, if it’s windy, if there’s a blizzard, you can showcase that you can throw in any type of weather.’ I’ve always prided myself that I feel I can throw the ball pretty well in the rain, or when it snows, or in the cold. I’ve played in those conditions all of my life.”

But a cold weather workout is not the biggest challenge that Kiel faces as he tries to earn an opportunity from an NFL team.

Gunner vs ECU

After bursting on the scene by throwing an FBS-record six touchdown passes in his first start, Kiel’s college career was a roller-coaster ride that rivaled anything at King’s Island. The highs included tying the single-season school record with 31 touchdown passes as a sophomore and going 15-for-15 with 5 TD passes as a junior vs. UCF. The lows included missing the 2015 Hawaii Bowl for personal reasons and spending much of his senior year backing up Hayden Moore and Ross Trail.

Gunner knows that NFL teams have questions.

“It goes back to the bowl game situation, the recruiting process a long time ago, and stuff like that,” he said. “I have a very interesting story. I’ve overcome a lot of adversity, and I’ve been through a lot of stuff that most 23 year olds probably haven’t been through. I think I’ve built a lot of character and when I tell these scouts what happened, it just shows the character that I have and the respect I gained from my teammates, my coaching staff, and all of the people from Cincinnati.”

Gunner showed enough potential at Cincinnati to be one of six quarterbacks invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game in January. Kiel completed 4 of 7 passes for 57 yards and directed the only touchdown drive by either team in the West’s 10-3 win.

Gunner East West Shrine

“It was very unexpected to be honest,” said Kiel. “I had an invite to the (less prestigious) College Gridiron Game, and I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to play in the East-West Shrine Game. I tried to do whatever I could to talk to scouts and get my name out there. I didn’t play much in the 2016 season, so to play in an All-Star game was huge for me. It was a tremendous honor and I gained a lot from that game.”

In preparation for workouts with NFL teams, Kiel has been trying to improve his mechanics with quarterbacks coach Travis Brown who conducted the passing drills on Wednesday.

“Mainly my feet,” said Kiel. “Always being in the shotgun, I never took a 3-step or 5-step drop. When I went to the Shrine game it was still a little bit shaky. My first step wasn’t very explosive and I wasn’t getting much depth, but getting with Travis helped a ton. He worked on my 3-step and 5-step drop and I think it looks pretty good now. I know that I still have a lot to work on, but it was a good day today.”

You didn’t have to be an NFL scout to see that Kiel has been working on his physique. That was obvious as soon as his shirt came off.

“Right after the season I weighed about 232.pounds,” Gunner said. “I still felt good, but I took this very seriously. Playing in the NFL is a big dream of mine so I did whatever I could. I bought into the diets and I bought into the workouts. I dropped 20 pounds and I weigh 211 now with eight percent body fat. So I feel really good.

“I’m hoping to get some private workouts to keep showcasing my ability and hope for the best.”

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1

 

The Tale of the Tooth

This is the tale of the tooth.

Or better yet, the whole truth about the tooth.

FullSizeRender

When UConn’s Amida Brimah caught Gary Clark with an elbow last Saturday in the AAC Tournament semifinals, he sent the Bearcats forward to the bench two minutes into the game with a tooth in his hand.

“As soon as it happened I thought, ‘Crap. I should have been wearing my mouthpiece,’” said Clark.

“I didn’t know what happened,” said assistant coach Darren Savino. “He comes over to the bench and he’s got a grimace on his face and then he handed me a tooth.”

“He had his hand out thinking it was a mouthpiece I guess,” said Clark. “I’m sure he was shocked when he realized it was my tooth. He turned and yelled, ‘It’s a tooth’ and (trainer) Robb (Williams) ran over and got me out.”

“I’m like, ‘What am I going to do with this guy’s tooth?’” said Savino. “So I go down to Robb and say, ‘Gary just gave me his tooth.’ He puts on his rubber gloves and I’m like, ‘Wait a minute – why are you putting on gloves? Give me something for my hands.’ So he comes and gives me sanitizer and the rest is history.”

The story, of course, didn’t end there. Clark went on to have one of the best games of his UC career finishing with 25 points and 9 rebounds.

Clark vs UConn in AAC tournament

“It tells you what kind of warrior Gary Clark is,” said Savino. “He spits his tooth out, stays on the court, and doesn’t bat an eyelash. He gets 25 and 9 with guys draped all over him fouling him on every possession.”

Did the elbow to the face motivate Gary?

“Just a little bit,” said Clark. “It just showed the physicality of the game and how teams are trying to play against us. I took one to the face last week and had a fat lip. It just comes with the game.”

“It says that I need to elbow him myself or upset him more often,” said Mick Cronin with a laugh. “He was upset. He went to the trainer and said, ‘Give me my mouthpiece.’ Nobody wants to listen to me but he got intentionally elbowed the week before and he had had enough.

“I’ve been telling him that you’ve got to play angry. In life you’ve got to be a great person, but when you get between those lines you’ve got to play angry. Hopefully he realized what he’s capable of. That’s the way I look at it.”

But there’s one more thing you should know.

Amida Brimah didn’t break Gary’s tooth. It had already been broken by Clark’s roommate Cane Broome in a preseason practice.

“We were playing two-on-two at practice,” said Broome. “I was guarding Kevin Johnson and he drove baseline and went up for a shot and I tried to block it. Gary was on my team and he tried to block it too. I fell backwards and my elbow hit him in the mouth. He said, ‘My tooth, my tooth.’ It was out.”

“He got like four stiches in his elbow,” said Clark. “He was the originator of it. I blame Cane.”

“It wasn’t funny, but after the fact we kind of laughed that Cane knocked somebody’s tooth out and he weighs 150 pounds,” said Savino.

So the tooth that was knocked out in Hartford was actually a replacement.

“He came to the bench and said, ‘Do I look ugly?’ Then he smiled,” said Broome.

“I got it fixed on Monday morning,” said Clark. “It was just a tad bit painful but I’m glad I’ve got my smile back.”

Unfortunately, Gary didn’t get the tooth back.

“My little brother said I should have saved it for the tooth fairy,” he said.

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1