Football enjoys Higher Ground 2022 debut

David CohenDavid Cohen

Director / Strategic Brand Engagement

WEST HARRISON, Ind. — The Cincinnati football program kicked off its 24th Higher Ground fall camp on a balmy, overcast Friday morning and solemnly began its quest for a third straight regular season without defeat.

Many familiar props returned to battle, including the “six drum,” and new signage appeared above the team’s headquarters (Fe2or Iron Sharpen’s Iron) and the field (Just be us and earn nothing, earn everything).

“Higher Ground really sets the tone for the whole year”, junior center Jake Renfro said. “It establishes our toughness, our mindset for the rest of the season and our competitive nature.”

Gino Guiduglientering his 10th training camp at Higher Ground and his first season as the Bearcats offensive coordinator and fifth overall, noted how despite losing nine NFL draft picks, including quarterback Desmond Riderthe return of all five offensive line starters is a good starting point.

“We have to replace some key positions, but every time you come back and have five guys up front that you can lean on and count on and take the pressure off the new quarterback, it’s exciting,” he said. “Coach Fick is a strong believer in that O-Line throughout the program and we’ve brought some guys forward and I can feel it. During a team meeting I challenged you as if you were the best O-Line in the entire conference, now let’s try to be the best online group in the country.”

In addition to the much-discussed quarterback fight, there’s also the return of the Mackey Award watchlist Leonard Taylor and Josh Whyleplus big play receiver Tre Tucker and Tyler Scottand a plethora of running backs like Charles McClelland, Ryan Montgomery, Myles Montgomery and transfer Corey Kinerwho played at LSU after starring at Roger Bacon High School in Cincinnati.

“They’re all over the field, I mean it’s all over the field,” Guidugli said. “It’s the running backs and we have a lot of talented receivers and everyone wants to be the two or three that go on the field first. Running back is another big point. These guys are constantly being evaluated, we have to get that. Some guys have come back healthy to put themselves in the mix, the guys running for us right now are doing a good job.”

Van Fossen, a redshirt senior, won all 10 of his career starts in the last year alone, totaling 70 tackles (seven by loss), including a career-high 11 against Tulsa. His three South Florida TFLs set a season-high for the Bearcats.

The next two and a half weeks mark his fifth trip to Higher Ground.

“I think Higher Ground is very special for us,” said Van Fossen. “Getting out of here, there are no distractions or anything like that. Not many people can do that, and it’s something where we can really come together as a team and become one, so week 1 when we go out there, we’re all fighting together.

Cincinnati’s aforementioned familiarity with the offensive line begins with Renfro, who was voted best in his position by AAC coaches. That unit allowed just 53 tackles-for-loss, which ranked seventh in the nation, while the Bearcats set school records for touchdowns (70) and points scored (516).



The Bearcats remain a national brand that sports media outlets across the country love to showcase. head coach Luke Fickel appeared live on ESPN SportsCenter and on Barstool Sports’ top-rated podcast, Forgive my takingEarlier this week to preview the start of camp.

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