Tuberville more comfortable with second UC recruiting class

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Tommy Tuberville talks with associate head coach Robert Prunty and teammates against the South Florida Bulls during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. South Florida Bulls defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 26-20.

Kim Klement/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

CINCINNATI — Tommy Tuberville was all set to fly home to Cincinnati Tuesday night but Mother Nature’s latest smackdown on the eastern United States left him without much of a choice. Once his flight out of Atlanta was cancelled, Tuberville found a rental car and started the drive back up I-75.

Mother Nature caught up to again in Lexington, Ky., forcing him and wide receivers coach Blake Rolan to stop for the night.

"(Kentucky) was playing Ole Miss in basketball so we watched the game there and got some dinner," said Tuberville. "When the game ended, the place filled up pretty quickly."

As focused and excited as UK fans are on their hoops team, Tuberville is that way with his UC football team and building it up in Year Two in Clifton. His first team finished 9-4, earning a Belk Bowl berth after finishing third in the American Athletic Conference behind Fiesta Bowl champion Central Florida and Louisville.

His first recruiting class was built on the run. He was hired in December 2012, leaving less than two months to put together his staff, get a quick read on the players he had on the team and trying to find some who would enhance his vision. This year’s class of 24 scholarship players, announced Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA’s initial signing period for football, was cultivated in a more measurable fashion. At least as much as any recruiting process can be considered measured.

"It was more relaxing because we know more about the situation," said Tuberville. "We know the area, we know the high schools, we know the coaches and we know more about the players. We had the coaches here for convention, we’ve been in clinics with them and got to know them not just as coaches but as individuals and they got to know us.

"We had a camp where most of the players recruited on this team, even the ones out of state, came to camp here. You’re not guessing as much."

We’ve got a lot to do, putting things together and looking at next year to see what we need

-Tommy Tuberville

Recruiting is educated guessing. Who really knows how good this recruiting class will be? We’re talking about teenagers. Tuberville likes it and he’s got a few years under him when it comes to evaluating talent and, more importantly, developing that talent. The most important thing he says he learned about recruiting from Jimmy Johnson when Tuberville was an assistant at the University of Miami was to don’t recruit anyone who can’t run no matter what position they play.

That was one key attribute when he talked about cornerback Linden Stephens, a Euclid native who played at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia last year. The same when the names of wide receiver Casey Gladney, safety Carter Jacobs and linebacker Kevin Mouhon, the younger brother of UC defensive end Silverberry Mouhon, were brought up.

Even quarterback Jarred Evans, a 6-2, 190-pound junior college transfer from Santa Barbara City College, has got some speed in his arsenal. Gunner Kiel, who will be eligible next fall after transferring from Notre Dame, is the favorite to earn the starting spot next year but Tuberville expects Evans to push Kiel.

Tuberville expects every member of this class to push those ahead of them and at some point be contributors at some level during their time at UC.

"I think you’ve got to recognize their strengths and weaknesses as soon as possible, the sooner the better," said Tuberville. "The quicker you can determine where they need to gain weight, or gain strength, or gain quickness or gain speed they can work on that. That’s the important thing."

That’s part of the development that must go on no matter what kind of ranking a recruit has next to his name.

Tuberville is looking forward to sleeping in his own bed again but it’s he doesn’t see this as a time to relax. UC opens up its spring practice in three weeks.

"We’ve got a lot to do, putting things together and looking at next year to see what we need," said Tuberville.