November 5, 2010

Coaches' kindness finds favor

The offensive line of UC under OL Coach Don Mahoney has ventured through a mercurial season. From worthless to stable to injury-prone to stable, the line has seen plenty of substitutes and replacements.

During the fall camp Head Coach Butch Jones broached the depth concerns of the offensive line too. Previously second string blockers Randy Martinez and Sean Hooey look solid. Uncertainty behind Sam Griffin (left tackle) and Jason Kelce (center) forced Coach Jones to shift freshman Eric Lefeld from defensive end to tackle. He will bring in two tackles in the Class of 2011 and the Class of 2012 features at least one, maybe two regionally elite tackles with UC interest.

"I really love their coaching staff," said Taylor Decker. "It is one of my favorite coaching staffs."

Decker is a promising tackle from just up the road. A two year starter for the Vandalia Butler Aviators, a team in the midst of a turnaround, Decker is months maybe years ahead of his peers.

In both recruiting and skills he demolishes his competition. Cincinnati has offered him. From his vantage point more power conference teams are likely to follow in the Bearcat paw prints.

"I have heard from a lot of people," said Decker. "My coach told me that Northwestern will offer once I visit. I feel like Notre Dame. Hopefully I get one from Ohio State and maybe Michigan State. The main ones I have been to are UC, Ohio State, Notre Dame."

Kinda relevant

Richard Gere said "everyone responds to kindness." UC coaches might know the effects of their kind relations with recruits, but Decker jovially reflects on it.

"They are really nice people," said Decker. "They seem to care about their players. It isn't all about football."

While many coaching staffs tout their integration of family values, by all accounts UC coaches live the cliché with fervor.

When a UC football player misses a class everyone in the family hears about it. On the other side of the coin, Coach Jones mentions birthdays at the end of every pertinent practice. Post-practice huddles are essentially dinner table conversations where good deeds and achievements are lauded.

Decker likes the atmosphere Cincinnati coaches are creating.

"The main one is I talk to is Mark Elder and Don Mahoney. Mark Elder recruits my area. I talk to him once a week on the phone."

Coach Mahoney would spend the most time with Decker if he signs on with Cincinnati many months from now. The pair has already begun cultivating trust and friendship at this very early date.

"I talked to Coach Mahoney probably five or six times," said Decker. "When I went down there the last time I talked to recruiting people and Coach Bajakian and Coach Coombs."

They are really nice people. They seem to care about their players. It isn't all about football. They do things in the community. That seems really good.

Player Evaluation

It is hard to get an accurate read on Decker through his high school season. He was an unencumbered bulldozer week after week, paving the way for Devontre Burks.

Burks finished the season tied for fourth in the GWOC with ten touchdowns.

Many of the guys who line up across from Decker were giving up sixty pounds. Vandalia Butler plays a couple decent teams and many subpar teams.

The best chances for scouts to evaluate Decker came last spring/summer when he attended the National Underclassman Combine, NIKE Combine, and Ohio State Camp. With his enhanced status camps might be unnecessary in June.

Interest has already sparked up from Kentucky, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, and nine Big Ten teams. His next campus visit will be next week when Decker heads back up to South Bend.

"I am going back to Notre Dame on the 13th when they play UConn," said Decker. "I have visited Ohio State twice, Notre Dame."

Cincinnati hosted Decker for Syracuse. Few were enamored with Cincinnati after the Cuse loss, but Decker was encouraged by the Oklahoma performance. The left tackle loved the way Cincinnati challenged an offensive juggernaut despite cascading murmurs of disbelief.

Though Ohio State and Notre Dame rarely concede a recruit to the Bearcats, Decker believes UC is an entirely viable destination. If after he makes all of his planned visits UC is still in the top three, then Coach Mahoney will be kind of glad.

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