Cincinnati Bearcats

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 11:  Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez (C) of the Georgia Bulldogs and the bench errupt in celebration after a defensive stop against the Tennessee Volunteers during the game at Sanford Stadium on October 11, 2008 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Ex-Tennessee DBs coach resurfaces in Cincinnati


A month or so before the start of his first spring practice in the Queen City, Luke Fickell has put the finishing touches on his first coaching staff at Cincinnati.

Willie Martinez has been added as the Bearcats’ cornerbacks coach, the school announced, filling the final spot on Fickell’s nine-man on-field coaching group.  Martinez had spent the past four seasons as the defensive backs coach at Tennessee, although the Vols opted to go in another direction last month.

“I’m very excited to bring Willie and his family to Cincinnati,” Fickell said. “I promised our team we would put together an outstanding staff to lead them and we have done that. Early in this journey, we talked to our players about taking a leap of faith and that is true of our coaching staff as well. You can go up and down the list of our coaches and you see great teachers, great motivators and great men.

“Our next step is to get spring football started and make an impact while continuing to lead our student-athletes to success.”

Counting his time in Knoxville, Martinez spent 14 of the past 16 seasons in the SEC.  Nine of those came at Georgia (2001-09), including a five-year tour as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator.

After two years at Oklahoma, Martinez was at Auburn for the 2012 season.

Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is seen during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on October 15, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. Stanford defeated Notre Dame 17-10. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else

Ex-Ohio State WR Torrance Gibson officially lands at Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 22: Players for the Cincinnati Bearcats run on to the field prior to the start of the game against the East Carolina Pirates at Nippert Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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Torrance Gibson‘s winding journey to the Queen City is officially official.

Back in August, Ohio State announced that Gibson had been suspended for the entire 2016 season, a suspension with which Urban Meyer didn’t agree.  In December, even as Gibson initially signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, the head coach left the door open for the wide receiver’s return.

That door was seemingly shut a couple of weeks ago as Gibson stated that, after a short stint at Cincinnati State instead of MGCCC, he would be moving on to Cincinnati.  Wednesday, it was closed completely.

A four-star 2015 recruit, Gibson was rated by as the No. 12 player at any position in the state of Florida. Coming to OSU as a dual-threat quarterback, Gibson was moved to wide receiver. At least at first, first-year UC head coach Luke Fickell will move Gibson back to quarterback.

Former Purdue interim head coach Gerad Parker lands at Cincinnati

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 22: Interim head coach Gerad Parker of the Purdue Boilermakers watches his team warm up before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
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Former Purdue interim head coach Gerad Parker has joined Cincinnati’s staff, the program announced Monday.

Parker coached wide receivers at Purdue before his elevation to interim head coach, but he’ll handle running backs for the Bearcats.

“I’m happy to welcome Gerad, his wife Kandi and their three daughters to our program,” Fickell said. “He’s another great family man and coach and I’m excited to see him get to work with our running backs this spring. We have put together a staff with some great recruiters and football minds. I am proud they have all taken a leap of faith to come to Cincinnati.”

This will mark the first time in Parker’s career he has coached running backs. A former Kentucky wide receivers, Parker previously coached wideouts at Marshall before joining the Purdue staff as tight ends coach in 2013.

With Parker’s hiring, Cincinnati lacks just a cornerbacks coach to complete Fickell’s inaugural staff.

Second Ohio State player following Luke Fickell to Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 5: Zach Edwards #4 of the Cincinnati Bearcats leads his teammates on to the field prior to the start of the game against the BYU Cougars at Nippert Stadium on November 5, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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When it comes to landing Power Five transfers, Luke Fickell‘s move to the Queen City has paid off very handsomely for Cincinnati.

On his personal Twitter account Sunday night, Kyle Trout announced that he will be transferring to UC to continue his collegiate playing career.  The public announcement comes a couple of weeks after the offensive lineman was rumored to be looking to move on from Ohio State.

Ohio University had also been talked about as a potential destination.

Trout is scheduled to graduate from OSU this spring, meaning he’d be eligible to play immediately for Fickell’s Bearcats in 2017.  He’ll have two years of eligibility remaining.

A four-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2014 recruiting class, Trout was rated as the No. 19 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 11 player at any position in the state of Ohio.

Earlier this month, Buckeyes transfer Torrance Gibson indicated that he would be following the former OSU defensive coordinator to the Bearcats.  It’s thought that Gibson will be eligible to play immediately for Fickell this coming season.