Mckenzie Milton Family
I spoke with McKenzie’s mom Teresa and she said that her son has always had an ultra competitive edge. Teresa said that by the time he was 4 he was going through his older brothers drawers and pulling out pieces of their jerseys and putting them on because he wanted to go out and play on teams just like his siblings. Teresa said by the time he was 11 months old he was crawling right out of his crib and getting downstairs by himself. He has always been a strong kid that just doesn’t flinch. The brothers are very close and talk everyday. And Mom says that they are season ticket holders because they needed to make sure they have enough tickets for all of the family that comes in town to see McKenzie play. There will be about 20 family members in the stadium tonight and they always have a Hawaiian flag with them in the stands. Mom lives in Orlando now because it was getting too expensive to fly back and forth for the games. She said she also noticed that her son was homesick because his teammates could go home during long weekends and breaks but McKenzie couldn’t so she decided to move to be closer to her son.
Cincinnati Losing LB Perry Young
Perry was the said as soon as he felt the pain in his knee who knew something was really wrong because he had never felt this type of pain in his life. He tore his ACL against Navy and this is his first major injury. He had surgery last Monday. Young was a leader on and off the field and he has been trying to continue being a leader. Young says that he is keeping his energy positive and is finding ways to still be with his team mentally. He spent the week preparing with his team in the film room and he says he peppers his teammates with personnel questions and has made himself available to the younger guys who may have questions about the game plan. Perry has had a very positive attitude throughout this process and says as soon as he can walk again he plans on being an assistant coach on the sidelines. Perry also says that he loves watching Jarell White step up in his absence. Young said that. “We have a similar style of play he is a competitor and being the weight and height we are is not the most ideal size backer but we make up for it with effort and attitude”.
RB Michael Warren II
Michael turned 20 on Monday and it was a few days after setting UC’s single season TD record. Michael said that although he did not know that he was breaking a record he does remember feeling like he had a very slow start to the game. Micahel says that he is always extremely dialed into the task at hand and that he has been like that from a young age. When he started playing football he said he went to his dad and expressed interest and his dad said well if you are going to play we are not starting you off with flag football or two hand touch football, you are starting with tackle football. And Michael says that mentality has made him fall in love with contact and playing through it. Micahel says the first pair of cleats he ever owned were Michael Vicks but that his favorite player growing up was Marion Barber because he loved what a strong and powerful runner he was.
The Luke Fickell Effect
Players have told me that the bond created during the offseason has changed everything for this group. During the offseason the weight lifting groups were made up of guys from different position groups.So it could be 6-8 guys featuring a QB, OLINEMAN, RB, LB, 2 WRs,Safety. QB Desmond Ridder said his group was full of guys that he probably wouldn’t talk to on a regular basis. And each lifting group was given points based on reps and effort so that caused everyone to learn how to encourage one another for a common goal. The lifting group also had lockers next to each other with the idea that guys from different position groups would now be communicating and holding each other accountable and spending more time together so the overall team bond would be stronger. There was also team bonding during fall camp. Cincinnati went to Camp Higher ground and had a day full of random competitions: starting a fire, go in the woods and find something that would best slice a watermelon. (Desmond said they found a piece of sheet metal). But the idea again being that they would have to work together with teammates they do not always get to spend a lot of time with. Desmond says that it has made the team much closer across offense and defense and all position groups.
QB Desmond Ridder
Desmond said that his redshirt season was extremely helpful to his game because he was challenged by the speed of the game. Going up against the first team defense all last year in practice has helped him gain more confidence when he takes the field for games. Ridder is also very honest about being the guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder. He was a kid who grew up a Louisville fan, but was only offered scholarships by Cincinatti and Eastern Kentucky and he is out to prove to everyone that he is a good player that is intent on improving in any way that he can. He watches a ton of game film, and tries to prepare the way Peyton Manning does (he has read up on and watched a lot of specials on Peyton). He says he knows he has a long way to go but one thing that he can control is the way he prepares. Desmond says that one of the coolest moments for him this season was having Charlie Strong come up to him after the USF game and acknowledge him. He said it was just great to have a Coach that he always looked up to at Louisville know who he was.