Coach: Rick Minter
41-49-1, 8 years
2001 Record: 7-5
at Army WON 24-21
at Miami, OH LOST 14-21
at UAB WON 31-17
at Houston WON 29-28
at Memphis WON 36-34
Toledo LOST 16-23

2001 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

With his all-around game and experience, DeMarco McClesky should shine this year and push for a 1,000-yard season. - (Photo courtesy of The Cincinnati Enquirer)
2002 Outlook

Head Coach Rick Minter knows. He may be the first to tell you that this season's 2002 schedule is more difficult, but he knows this team under his working knowledge has the capability of being one of the best he has ever coached. The jest of this year's group helped the Cats to finish second in Conf USA last fall. With 16 starters back, many of them All-American Candidates, the promises look exceptionally positive. Offensively, this is a senior laden group with three senior All-American mold receivers, a senior All-Conference running back, and the Conf USA Freshman of the Year calling the signals. The front defensive wall has an All-American in Antwan Peek and a steady combination of experienced and skilled personnel along his side. The Bearcats have become one of surprise teams for 2002. Talent and experience is evident at just about every spot. How this talent gets utilized will go a long way to proving whether or not Cincinnati can better the status quo of the last few seasons. Winning the league is still going to be a difficult task with Louisville being the projected front-runner. Be sure to tune into that Thursday night tilt the first week of November. The non-conference schedule is daunting by UC standards, but all three openers are home games, including the huge in-state showdown with Ohio State in the new home of the NFL Bengals, Paul Brown Stadium. Conf USA is still up for grabs and the Bearcats will have their say. Should we state again that this team is one of our big surprise teams for 2002? This program is rich with talent.

Projected 2002 record: 10-4

QB - 3.5 DL - 4
RB - 4 LB - 3
WR - 4.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Gino Guidugli, 185-317-9, 2573 Yards, 16 TD's

Rushing: DeMarco McCleskey, 179 att., 765 yds., 7 TD's

Receiving: LaDaris Vann, 73 rec., 902 yds., 3 TD's

Scoring: Jonathan Ruffin, 12 FG, 36 PAT, 72 pts.

Punting: none

Kicking: Jonathan Ruffin, 12-16 FG, 36-36 PAT, 72 pts.

Tackles: Doug Monaghan, 101 tot., 67 solo

Sacks: Antwan Peek, 12.5 sacks

Interceptions: Zach Norton, 3 for 15 yds.

Kickoff returns: LaDaris Vann, 2 ret., 10.0 avg.

Punt returns: LaDaris Vann, 35 ret., 8.3 avg.


OFFENSE: Ray Jackson-FB, Nathan Wize-FB, Shawn Murphy-OT, DeWayne Johnston-OG
DEFENSE: Kirk Thompson-DT, Lewis Carter-MLB, LaVar Glover-CB, Anthony Thomas-CB, Adam Wulfeck-P

The majority of the offensive unit has remained in tact from 2001. Finding ways to utilize the long list of skilled athletes on this side of the ball will be priority one. At the helm is Gino Guidugli at quarterback, the unanimous choice as the 2001 Conf USU Freshman of the Year. He set school and conference records last year in five separate categories. Guidugli was thrust into the starting role last year after the season ending loss to starter Adam Hoover in just the second week of action. Taking over immediately, the promising kid out of Kentucky never looked back. The strength of the offense has to rest in the three returning receivers as Van, Keith, and Olinger rank among the best in school history. The trio combined for over 1,900 yards and 14 touchdowns a year ago, a figure unmatched at UC in over 30 years. LaDaris Vann is the Conf USA leading receiver and is considered the crème of the crop when running with the pigskin after the catch. Tye Keith is the most unheralded of the primary receivers and at 6-3; Jon Olinger is the biggest target and has emerged as quite a deep threat. The running game will once again be centered around senior DeMarco McCleskey, who has led the team in rushing in two of his first three seasons. He is the lone back now. Keep an eye out for one of the most decorated backs in Cincinnati High School football history. The 1998 Ohio Player of the Year and Ohio State transfer, Richard Hall, is about to make his entrance onto the stage. The tight end battle should be a good one as the roster includes three players who add various dimensions to the lineup. A strength of the offense for most of the last decade, the offensive line will be in a transition year as only three starters return from a year ago. Sophomore Kyle Takavitz is a promising young prospect after garnishing conference All-Freshman honors last year. He will be key for protecting against the outside pass rush. Veteran seniors Doolin and Gardner will help steady the group.


Returning Starters in Bold
QB Gino Guidugli-So George Murray-So
RB DeMarco McCleskey-Sr Tedric Harwell-Jr
WR Tye Keith-Sr Daven Holly-So
WR Jon Olinger-Sr Carl Jones-Fr
WR LaDaris Vann-Sr Derick Ross-Fr
TE A.J. Lucius-So Justin LaForgia-Fr
OT Kyle Takavitz-So Clint Stickdorn-So
OG Kirt Doolin-Sr Adam Shorter-So
C Josh Shneyderov-Jr Matt Mercer-So
OG Joel Yakovac-Fr Travis McGee-Jr
OT Josh Gardner-Sr Jeremy Schlicher-So
K Jonathan Ruffin-Sr Joe Wolke-Fr



Like the offense, the defense returns eight starters as well from what was a generally young and inexperienced squad last fall. The Bearcats should benefit from the youthful experienced gained in 2001. Even though two of the three starters return from the linebacker unit, the lineup is not set in stone as a number of young players will be given the opportunity to display their skills during spring practice and claim a spot. Minter knows that the linebackers need to play better as a group in order for the Bearcats to improve their rushing defense that allowed 176.8 yards per game to rank 75th in the nation a year ago. With three starters and a fourth regular returning, the secondary can be counted on to continue its strong all-around play. But like several other positions on the team, the depth will have to come from a group of generally untested underclassmen. The most veteran unit is the defensive line where the ends Peek and Adams and tackle Billings are expected to make big things happen. Defensive end Antwan Peek is the catalyst, using his 4.54 speed and superior strength to overwhelm opponents. A first team All-Conference USA pick a year ago, Peek holds school records for quarterback sacks in a game (4 vs. Louisiana-Monroe), season (12.5) and career (21).

Special Teams: There is no question as to who will handle the kicking chores as All-American senior Jonathan Ruffin returns to cap a brilliant kicking career. He was a consensus All-American choice and the recipient of the Lou Groza Award as the nation's best kicker after making 26-of-29 field goals in 2000. At the other end of the spectrum is the punting job where three players will compete to replace the big shoes left empty by the departure of three-time all-league choice Adam Wulfeck.

Special thanks to the University of Cincinnati Sports Information Department.


Returning Starters in Bold
DE Antwan Peek-Sr Andre Frazier-So
DT DeMarcus Billings-Sr Matt Tupuola-Sr
DT Ka'Son Love-Sr A.J. Xhudo-Fr
DE Derrick Adams-Sr Adam Roberts-Fr
OLB Jason Russell-Jr Jermaine Wilson-So
MLB Willis Edwards-Sr Jamar Enzor-So
OLB Jason Hunt-Sr Jamey Murphy-So
CB Blue Adams-Sr Marvin Allen-Jr
CB Zach Norton-Jr Monyell Williams-So
SS Doug Monaghan-So Frank Lang-Sr
FS Ivan Fields-Sr John Hinson-Jr
P Joe Wolke-Fr Kyle McDaniel-So
Antwan Peek is one of the nation's best pass rushers with 4.5 speed and strength that no average tackle can handle. - (Photo courtesy of The Cincinnati Enquirer)