20 Bearcats named to Athlon’s preseason All-AAC team

Zach Stipe

Assistant AD / Communications

CINCINNATI- Led by seven first-team selections, Cincinnati’s football team had the league’s top 20 athletes named Thursday to the 2022 preseason All-Conference American Athletic team.

junior center Jake Renfrosenior tackle Dylan O’Quinn and senior guard Laurent Metz were all named to the All-Preseason Conference First Team on offense, while senior defensive end Malik Vannjunior linebacker Deshawn Pace and senior defensive back Bush of Arquon garnered praise from the first team in defence.

Senior running back / punt returner Ryan Montgomery was selected as a first-team specialist.

Renfro, O’Quinn and Metz were all named All-Conference First Team by USA coaches in 2021 after leading a Bearcats offense that averaged the sixth-most yards per game (6.93) in every team in the country while leading the way for UC to set school records for touchdowns (70) and points (510).

Additionally, Metz received second-team CoSIDA All-America Academic accolades. The 6-9, 326-pounder had a 4.0 in his first semester of graduate school in the spring.

On defense, Vann, Pace and Bush return as leaders of a “Blackcats” unit that ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense (16.5) and 10th in total defense, yielding just 318 .4 yards per game.

Pace earned all-honorable mention conference honors in 2021 after finishing sixth in the conference with 94 tackles and notching the team’s top four interceptions. Vann enters his fifth season at UC having already played 47 games and made 87 tackles and nine sacks in his career.

Bush is also returning for his fifth season, having been a UC nickelback for the past two years. He recorded 42 tackles and three interceptions for the best pass defense in the nation in 2021.

Montgomery is expected to be UC’s starting returner for a fourth straight season in 2022. He has a career average of 9.5 yards per return. Montgomery ranked second in the AAC with an average of 11.4 in 2021.

Senior tight end Josh Whyle and junior defensive tackle Jowon Briggs earned preseason second-team accolades, while second-year transfer running back Corey Kiner, senior wide receiver Tre Tuckersenior left tackle James Tunstalsenior defensive lineman Jabari Taylormain linebacker Ty Van Fossen and senior safety Jav’Von Hicks all earned third-team honors. Tucker was also named to the third team as a kick returner.

Junior wide receiver Tyler Scottsenior tight Leonard Taylorsenior guard Jeremy Cooper and sophomore punter Mason Fletcher were named to the pre-season fourth team.

Athlon also ranked the Bearcats No. 15 in its Top 25 preseason rankings.

Athlon Sports American Preseason All-Conference Honors (Cincinnati Athletes)

Complete list

First team attack
VS Jake Renfro
LO Dylan O’Quinn
LO Laurent Metz

First team defense
DL Malik Vann
KG Deshawn Pace
CC Bush of Arquon

First team specialists
PR Ryan Montgomery

Second team attack
AND Josh Whyle

Second team defense
DL Jowon Briggs

Third team attack
RB Corey Kiner
WR Tre Tucker
LO James Tunstal

Third team defense
DL Jabari Taylor
KG Ty Van Fossen
S Ja’von Hicks

Third Team Specialist
KR Tre Tucker

Fourth Team Attack
WR Tyler Scott
AND Leonard Taylor
LO Jeremy Cooper
P Mason Fletcher

Led by reigning national consensus coach of the year Luke Fickell and 12 returning starters, the Bearcats are the two-time defending AAC champions and are coming off a 13-1 season that resulted in a trip in the 2021 College Football Playoffs. With a 44-7 record since the start of 2018, Cincinnati’s 86% winning percentage ranks among the top 5 winning percentages in the nation for the past four years.


For all the latest information on Cincinnati Athletics, please visit GoBEARCATS.com. For last-minute updates, follow Cincinnati Athletics on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.



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