WEST HARRISON, IND. — Silverberry Mouhon has a burgeoning creative side. Given that his parents named him after a fiction novelist, A.R. Silverberry, maybe it’s not so coincidental that he has come to enjoy writing.
The creativity is also finding its way onto the football field for the University of Cincinnati junior defensive end.
"When the creativity starts to set in, I’ve got some moves that come into my head," said Mouhan.
His first name grabs your attention. It makes you curious. His play has made people take notice.
The way he approaches football, say his coaches, is why you will take a second and third look at Silverberry Mouhon. It’s why he’s respected by his teammates and why, even though the Bearcats have to replace four key members from last season’s defensive line, defensive line coach/co-defensive coordinator Robert Prunty is eagerly anticipating this season.
"His attitude, since I’ve been here, is to work hard so my job has been easy with him," said Prunty, who came to Clifton last year with head coach Tommy Tuberville. "I love this group because of its work habits. They’ve got all of the intangibles. This group has got the potential to be the best group I’ve ever been around."
Mouhon is at the top of the list.
He has been named to the preseason watch list for both the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Ted Hendricks Award. The Lombardi Award is presented by the Rotary Club of Houston to the top Division I college football lineman. The Ted Hendricks Award is presented by the Ted Hendricks Foundation to the top defensive end in college football.
"It’s a blessing because last year I wasn’t on any watch list but at the same time I haven’t played a down in the 2014 season yet," said Mouhon, who is listed at 6-4, 248. "I don’t let any of that stuff get to me. It’s all preseason stuff. All that matters is this right here, right now. I’m still trying to get better. I’m still have a lot to prove to myself."
Mouhon finished last season with 9½ sacks and 41 total tackles. He had 12½ tackles for loss, forced two fumbles and was credited with seven quarterback hurries. He was named second-team All-AAC last season.
He is one of six returning lettermen for the Bearcats on the defensive line, along with seniors Camaron Beard, Brad Harrah, Jerrell Jordan, Terrell Hartsfield and junior Brandon Mitchell. There are 10 defensive linemen on the UC roster who are in their first year in the program. It’s a position the six returnees found themselves in last year as they adjusted to the program being established by Tuberville.
"I learned how to slow down, play with my eyes and read my keys," said Mouhon. "Coach P has taught me how to break down my game and use my fundamentals. That’s really helped me. I’m more into my fundamentals now."
Tuberville said despite the 10 new faces to the defensive line there is improved depth this season. That’s going to be beneficial to everyone, including Mouhon.
"He’s got some help this year," said Tuberville. "He’ll be an even better player because he’s not going to have as many reps as he had last year. That’s going to allow the reps that he is in there to be that much more forceful."
The additional attention from being on the watch lists and coming off the season he had last year means added responsibility on the team. It’s not just the eyes of fans who are watching.
"I see him working every day, he’s a hard worker and he deserves it," said Beard, who is the only three-time letterman among the defensive linemen. "I think that pushes the entire d-line to work to his level, to work past his level. We’re very competitive. I think we’re pushing each other. I think it’s a great environment. I love the competition in the room but at the end of the day we’re brothers."