CINCINNATI — These past few weeks for the Cincinnati Bearcats have gone at a breakneck speed with the departure of Luke Fickell, the hiring of Scott Satterfield and a forgettable appearance in the Fenway Bowl. But now that the 2022 season is officially complete, Cincinnati’s attention can focus on the recruiting trail — whether the 2023 high school class or in the transfer portal — and filling in the rest of Satterfield’s staff.
The recruiting outlook and how many spots the Bearcats are aiming to fill for next season will remain a fluid situation. That depends on how many players on UC’s roster decide to enter the portal between now and when the current window closes on Jan. 18 as well as how many choose to return and utilize the COVID-19 pandemic’s added year of eligibility. It’s also worth noting that while the overall number of 85 total scholarships remains the same, there is no longer a single-year limit of 25 scholarship additions per class.
Cincinnati will have to be aggressive in the portal during the coming weeks and months, but there seems to be a decent amount of clarity on targets in the 2023 high school recruiting class ahead of the early signing period that opens Wednesday.
The Bearcats’ 2023 prospects mostly can be separated into two groups: prior Cincinnati commitments under Fickell who have recommitted to Satterfield and previous Louisville commits under Satterfield that UC’s new staff is looking to flip.
There are currently seven prior 2023 Bearcats commits who have reaffirmed they are locked in at Cincinnati, led by four-star quarterback Brady Drogosh, who recently won a state championship and was awarded Michigan’s Mr. Football.
Staying home ? pic.twitter.com/pJCKPus2BQ
— Brady Drogosh (@BDrogosh) December 12, 2022
Beyond Drogosh, Satterfield has received recommitments from Ohio linebacker Trevor Carter, Ohio defensive lineman Kamari Burns, Ohio offensive lineman Evan Tengesdahl, Florida running back Manny Covey, Maryland defensive lineman Brian Simms III and Ohio wide receiver Ty Perkins.
Missouri offensive lineman Joshua Gregory remains committed, but he did announce he was taking an official visit to Wisconsin this past weekend. The same is true for Washington, D.C. safety Rohan Davy, who is still committed but was reportedly visiting NC State during the weekend.
Keeping Drogosh is a coup for Satterfield, giving the Bearcats a bonafide four-star prospect ranked 315th in the 2023 class according to 247Sports. Drogosh’s skillset — a talented, athletic runner who is still developing as a passer — is arguably a better fit for Satterfield’s offense than Drogosh would have been under Fickell and gives Satterfield a piece to build around as his team enters the Big 12. Carter, who was originally the initial commit to UC’s 2023 class back in Nov. 2021, also gives Satterfield a top-500 recruit who has remained on board.
In terms of previous Louisville commits, Cincinnati has flipped Jayden Davis, a three-star safety out of Georgia and another top-500 prospect. The Bearcats also are working to flip another trio of Louisville commits in four-star edge rusher Adonijah Green out of Georgia, four-star linebacker Stanquan Clark out of Florida and three-star cornerback Rayquan Adkins out of Florida. All three took official visits to Cincinnati during the weekend of Dec. 10 along with Davis, but all three were also slated to re-visit Louisville this past weekend. Their decisions could come down to a signing-day choice for any of them and could go either direction.
Beyond the prior Cincinnati commits and possible Louisville flips, there aren’t many other 2023 high school prospects the Bearcats have targeted for the early signing period. But one of those names to watch could be three-star wide receiver Barry Jackson out of Georgia. Jackson committed to Nebraska back in July, but the Cornhuskers have undergone a recent coaching change of their own, and Jackson told On3 he was set for an official visit to UC. Jackson is also a teammate of Green’s at Cedar Grove High School in Georgia.
To start the week, there appear to be eight commits in the 2023 high school class who are secure for Cincinnati: Drogosh, Carter, Burns, Tengesdahl, Covey, Simms III, Perkins and Davis. Based on what Gregory, Davy, Green, Clark, Adkins and Jackson decide to do, that’s as many as 14 known targets.
Regardless of where that final number of signings shakes out this week, landing players out of the portal will be a priority. The Bearcats have received a commitment from former Louisville offensive lineman and Cincinnati native Luke Kandra, and former Cardinals linebacker Dorian Jones is another one to keep an eye on after he entered the portal last week. UC has hosted a number of transfer candidates for campus visits the past two weekends as well, including former Florida and Arizona State quarterback Emory Jones.
Based on his Instagram account, it appears transfer QB Emory Jones (Florida, Arizona State) visited Cincinnati this weekend. #Bearcats pic.twitter.com/AhCu4Chojg
— Justin Williams (@Williams_Justin) December 18, 2022
It’s safe to assume that based on the existing roster makeup and construction, Cincinnati will be looking to add pieces at quarterback, receiver, tight end and cornerback and on both the offensive and defensive lines. The good news for the Bearcats is that the majority of roster holdovers should fit in Satterfield’s system, as well as defensive coordinator Bryan Brown’s. Louisville utilized more shifts and gap disruption on the defensive line compared to Cincinnati’s hold-the-point, knockback style, but the Cardinals also played a lot of three-down fronts, and any returning players, along with incoming freshmen such as Burns and Simms III, should easily translate.
Which Bearcats players elect to use an additional season of eligibility will be a significant factor, and the sense late in the season was that the likes of Ivan Pace Jr., Jowon Briggs and Malik Vann were heavily considering and open to returning for another year. Pace Jr. did accept an invitation to the senior Shrine Bowl, but as long as he doesn’t play in the game or sign with a professional agent, Cincinnati’s first-ever unanimous first-team All-American is eligible to return.
The Bearcats are in a challenging position on the recruiting front due to the coaching change and short runway ahead of the early signing period, but the program has managed to secure a number of important additions to the 2023 class as an active offseason in the transfer portal awaits.
(Photo: Dylan Buell / Getty Images)