UC football on run in late March spring practice under Scott Satterfield

On the official first day of spring, Monday, March 20, University of Cincinnati head football coach Scott Satterfield briefly allowed helmets and pads to collide. It's no secret the coach likes to advance the ball into the gut of a skilled runner in an up-tempo fashion using a zone scheme.

The second a defense thinks it has the right man covered, the football can whisk through the air into the open arms of a receiver. Come September, UC fans hope to see the efforts of March come to fruition.

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For now, it's a matter of gauging which player can do what in which situation. Then, as soon as they have an idea, the May 1 football transfer portal window opens which could cause some reshuffling of the deck.

Here's what we know heading into the third week of spring ball:

Quarterbacks are being continuously evaluated

The competing quarterbacks have been held out of media sessions early, but that changes soon. You truly have the best of both worlds here in the frontrunners. Emory Jones has started 20 games and thrown for 33 career touchdowns between Arizona State and Florida. He also had a 758-yard rushing season in the SEC. Ben Bryant has started 26 games between UC and Eastern Michigan and thrown for 37 career touchdowns.

Ben Bryant gathers the Bearcat offense during UC's game with Navy last Nov. 5.
Ben Bryant gathers the Bearcat offense during UC's game with Navy last Nov. 5.

It probably didn't hurt Bryant's future stock that he could go to Pro Day at the Bengals facilities and throw to his former teammates. Also part of the group, Evan Prater has a pair of starts and appears suited for the Satterfield system. Brady Lichtenberg has shown an arm in practice and incoming freshman Brady Drogosh has an interesting build for the future at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. Early on, stating the obvious, Jones has great elusiveness and Bryant throws a pretty nice ball.

Everything starts up front

The first Cincinnati Bengal ever drafted was center Bob Johnson as Paul Brown believed everything started up front with the center. That person at UC is Gavin Gerhardt from Xenia who started all 13 games last season when original starter Jake Renfro was injured. UC conceivably could have Gerhardt, a redshirt junior, for three more seasons.

Down to 305 from 330 after losing some "baby fat," Gerhardt leads the line every day against perhaps their toughest opponent; their own defensive line.

Cincinnati Bearcats offensive lineman Gavin Gerhardt (53) and Cincinnati Bearcats offensive lineman Jeremy Cooper (74) block as Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Ben Bryant (6) drops back to pass against UCF last Oct.29.
Cincinnati Bearcats offensive lineman Gavin Gerhardt (53) and Cincinnati Bearcats offensive lineman Jeremy Cooper (74) block as Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Ben Bryant (6) drops back to pass against UCF last Oct.29.

"It's hard every day but it's going to make us even better," Gerhardt said. "(We're) going against some of the best guys in the country. Especially Jowon (Briggs) and Dontay (Corleone), an All-American, an unreal guy and an even better player."

Gerhardt has some added responsibilities this year taking charge of the offensive line's name, image, and likeness deal with Skyline Chili. Last year that fell on Dylan O'Quinn. Now it's Gerhardt leading the road graders into a parlor near you making videos and eating product.

Trevor and the transfers

Satterfield brought in several offensive linemen from the portal including Trevor Radosevich from Penn, Luke Kandra (Elder) from Louisville and Phillip Wilder from Southeast Missouri State who are expected to play. Radosevich is a bonus having been a two-time captain for the Quakers and First Team All-Ivy League. Radosevich has also played center as well as tackle.

"A lot of guys are bouncing around playing different positions," he said. "We're getting really good at that outside zone scheme and that inside zone and having that chemistry of running off the football. If that guy punctures inside we'll be able to bump it off and go to the next. Developing that chemistry and trust is really helping the five of us right now."

The Satterfield run offense and Big 12 competition drew Radosevich to transfer and he's become a fan of the town.

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"This place is amazing, it's incredible!" Radosevich said. "You dream growing up of playing Power Five football and I've been given the opportunity to do that in my last year."

You may have options at running back

Junior Corey Kiner (362 yards, 10 games) and senior Ryan Montgomery (270 yards, nine games) return with the most experience with redshirt sophomore Myles Montgomery (120 yards, six games) in the mix, Ethan Wright is also back at running back from the defense. Redshirt freshman Stephan Byrd, a former First Team All-Ohio player out of Canal Winchester, is an interesting option coming out of the backfield at 220 pounds and incoming freshman Manny Covey, a 182-pound Floridian has shown some breakaway speed.

Manny Covey after a touchdown run for his high school team, the Bradford Tornadoes, last September.
Manny Covey after a touchdown run for his high school team, the Bradford Tornadoes, last September.

Receivers look the part

Dee Wiggins continues to impress and has 22 starts under his belt between Louisville and the Miami Hurricanes. He's a big target at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, as is Donovan Ollie who has 24 career starts at Washington State. Ollie measures in at 6-foot-3, 212 pounds.

You know about the defensive line but don't underestimate linebackers or secondary

The heavily local defensive line of Malik Vann (Fairfield), Jowon Briggs (Walnut Hills). Dontay Corleone (Colerain) and Eric Phillips (Colerain) is well known, but Cincinnatians Jaheim Thomas (Princeton) and Deshawn Pace (Colerain) will certainly make themselves known behind the line of scrimmage. Pace has been a ballhawk determined to show everyone he can do what his brother Ivan did to elevate himself. Among newcomers, Arizona State defensive back D.J. Taylor has had a nose for the ball and Florida transfer Jordan Young had a couple of picks Monday. Both Taylor and Young went to high school in Tampa. From last year's team, redshirt junior Sammy Anderson and redshirt senior Taj Ward found balls intended for others.

Jordan Young (11) breaks up a pass during the Gators 38-6 win over South Carolina last Nov. 12. Young now sports No. 1 for the UC Bearcats.
Jordan Young (11) breaks up a pass during the Gators 38-6 win over South Carolina last Nov. 12. Young now sports No. 1 for the UC Bearcats.

Pro Day recap

Receivers Tyler Scott and Tre Tucker sped to unofficial times of 4.32 in the 40-yard dash during UC Pro Day last Thursday at the Bengals indoor facility. Rising sixth-year quarterback Bryant threw to Scott and Tucker as well as tight end Josh Whyle and running back Charles McClelland.

Other Bearcat achievements included 6-foot-9-inch offensive lineman Lorenz Metz doing 26 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press and linebacker Ty Van Fossen going 35.5" in the vertical leap. UC's first-ever unanimous All-American Ivan Pace Jr. did 22 reps on the bench and had a vertical of 35".

He'll go down as one of UC's all-time best transfers.

"I felt like I already had that game in me," Pace Jr. said. "I have also had that mentality that I am good enough to play anywhere. That is why the main reason I transferred to come to Cincinnati was my brother (Deshawn) was here too. I could have went somewhere else, to a bigger Power Five program, and played there, but I came here to show those things and ball out with him."

Pace, Tucker, Whyle and Scott are all projected NFL draft picks.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Spring football continues for Cincinnati Bearcats with eye on April 15