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CINCINNATI – University of Cincinnati football seniors Jowon Briggs, Xzavier Henderson, Deshawn Pace and Malik Vann were named to the 2024 Reese's Senior Bowl Watch List on Wednesday.
Briggs, a fifth-year defensive end, Pace, a senior defensive back/star, and Vann, a sixth-year defensive end, are all Cincinnati natives who are expected to serve as the veteran leaders of the Bearcats' defense this fall.
Henderson, a senior wide receiver, transferred to UC this summer after leading Florida in receptions (38) in 2022. Overall, the speedy receiver from Miami, Fla., has 73 catches, 835 yards and five scores over 35 career games.
Briggs is coming off a season in which he finished with 60 tackles, 4.5 TFLs and three sacks and collected All-American Athletic Conference First Team honors as UC's starting nose tackle and the anchor of a defense that ranked fifth nationally in yards per play allowed (4.61). He moved to defensive end this offseason in defensive coordinator Bryan Brown's new scheme.
Vann, who missed nearly every game last season with a pectoral injury, returned to UC for a sixth season. The former Fairfield High School star has 90 tackles, 22 TFLs and nine sacks over 49 career games. He will also line up at defensive end this season.
Pace, the younger brother of 2022 consensus All-American Ivan Pace Jr., will be counted on to be a playmaker on defense. He moved from linebacker to the unique "star" defensive back position, which will allow him to be utilized across the field as hybrid linebacker/nickel back. The versatile star has 157 tackles, 14.5 TFLs, five interceptions and two kick blocks over the last two seasons, including a sophomore year in which he tallied 95 stops and four INTs to help lead the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff.
About the Reese's Senior Bowl Watch List
All 720 position players (non-specialists) who made the list were evaluated by the Senior Bowl staff and tape-based grades were logged on hundreds of other senior prospects. Every player on this list is eligible to participate in an all-star game as either a 2019 high school graduate or true four-year player (with five or more games played in three previous seasons). This list does not include many true or redshirt juniors who could become eligible as December 2021 (or earlier) graduates.
The Reese's Senior Bowl is widely regarded as the preeminent college football all-star game and the first stage in the NFL Draft process. The longest continual-running all-star game has taken place in Mobile the past 74 years. More than 900 NFL personnel, including key decision-makers from all 32 teams, and over 1,100 media members from around the country were credentialed last year. In each of the past three years, the Reese's Senior Bowl has had 100 or more players drafted and over 40 percent of the entire draft class, which are both record-setting figures for any all-star game.
Vann Collects Comeback Player of the Year Watch List Mention
In addition to his Senior Bowl honor, Vann was named to the 2023 Comeback Player of the Year Award Watch List on Tuesday afternoon.
The 6-3, 268-pound defensive end suffered a season-ending pectoral injury during the second game of the 2022 season after battling an ankle injury that limited him down the stretch of the 2021 season. He has played in 49 career games, making 90 tackles. He expected to make an impact as a leader and on the defensive line in his sixth season in 2023.
About the Comeback Player of the Year Award Watch List
The College Sports Communicators (formerly CoSIDA) in association with The Associated Press (AP) and the Fiesta Bowl Organization, today released a "Watch List" of 100 college football student-athletes from 67 different schools currently under consideration for the 2023 Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Since 2018, the award has recognized college football student-athletes from all divisions of college football for overcoming injury, illness, or other circumstances. At the conclusion of each season, in a vote by a panel of college football writers, editors, and sports information directors, three college football student-athletes are honored as Comeback Player of the Year Award winners at the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl.
What it Means:
By: Ryan Roberts
The Reese's Senior Bowl has been a great exposure opportunity for future Bearcats in the NFL over the past few years.
In 2022, Cincinnati had 9 players drafted in the NFL Draft. Of those 9 draftees, six participated in this event. Desmond Ridder, Coby Bryant, Myjai Sanders, Jerome Ford, Alec Pierce, and Darian Beavers were among the 9 future draftees to play in the game.
Last season's game featured Wide Receiver Tre Tucker, Tight End Josh Whyle, and Linebacker Ivan Pace. Tucker was taken in the third round by the Las Vegas Raiders, while Whyle was taken in the fifth round by the Tennessee Titans. Pace went undrafted after being a unanimous first team all american, but was signed by the Minnesota Vikings and has moved up depth chart throughout camp and preseason.
Other notable preseason accolades:
Defensive tackle Dontay Corleone and Punter Mason Fletcher have both been named to the Sporting News Second Team All American Teams. Corleone was also named an AP 1st Team Preseason All American.
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The Bearcats will open the season Saturday September 2nd against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in historic Nippert Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 pm.