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The Cardinal Countdown: 11 Days Until Kickoff

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Cincinnati Bearcats v Louisville Cardinals

#11 Kamari Averett

Class: Sophomore

Ht/Wt: 6-6/265

Position: Tight End

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Twitter: @solid_mari

Thoughts: Last year at this time the buzz around Averett was “can this freshman come in and win the starting tight end spot”? He was a large human who presents himself as big target, has good hands, and can certainly block one of those puny little linebackers coming off the edge. The answer, as we all know now, was “no”. Standberry was cemented in his role as the lead guy last season and Crum and Jordan Davis contributed equally as well. Averett wasn’t gathering cobwebs or anything as he saw action in eleven games, used mostly as a blocking end but he also grabbed seven balls for over 70 yards and touchdown. So, with the departure of Standberry is Averett going to slide into that spot?

For those who follow my posts you know I’m President, Vice President and Treasurer of the MCFC (Micky Crum Fan Club) so while I think Averett has the potential to be a beast I’m envisioning the Mickster taking on the number one spot for 2018. Now, with that said, I think it’s impossible to keep the 6-6 260+ pound animal off the field. He proved as a true freshman that he deserved reps and ever since the 2017 season wrapped up Petrino and Klenakis have both been touting how much Averett has improved as a receiver and router runner. Let us not forget though, the young man can still block you better than a Petrino twitter account.

In my perfect world Micky goes off this year, and Averett is not far behind him statistically setting himself up as the go-to option in 2019. With Crum #1 and Kamari #2 I believe you get the best of both worlds in two tight end sets and could certainly create a few mismatches up front. Evidently I’m not the only one who thinks that, as the voters for this year’s Mackey Award placed both Crum and Averett on their preseason watch list (I for some reason am not on this committee). I’m looking for big things from Kemari as I want him to be the unequivocal #1 coming into next season. I don’t think he’ll let me down.

Sweet Tweet:

I know the majority of us view college athletics as a source of entertainment, but for a lot of these guys earning a degree and trying to further their athletic career is something that can not only change their lives but can drastically alter those around them as well. For those who know some of the Averett backstory this is an important message from him, and one I’m happy to share with others.

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#11 Dee Smith

Class: Senior

Ht/Wt: 6-1/204

Position: Safety

Hometown: Florence, AL

Twitter: @I_Am_Dee_Smith

Thoughts: For some players it feels as if they’ve been on campus seven or eight seasons, and for others it often feels like they just got here before they walk out the door as college graduates. For me, Dee Smith is certainly the latter. A four star recruit out of high school Dee came in as a true freshman and immediately started seeing action, appearing in ten games and making an impact on special teams at the D-I level just a few months removed from rectangle pizzas and senior proms. While not without fault Dee was consistent in that first season and showed flashes of what we could expect in the seasons to come.

Flash forward a couple years and Dee has done what you expect every single player on your roster to do...he’s gotten better every year. Starting his career as a “nice player to have” moving to “he’s a good part of the rotation”, then sliding into “he’s a big part of the secondary”, and finally, as a senior…”he’s a team captain”. Dee appeared in 12 games last year and became a starter about midway through the season earning more and more reps as his play improved from early in the year. Finishing 2017 with a career high 53 tackles and a nice 45 yard return on his lone interception Dee made a mark and his teammates took notice voting him into that co-defensive captain position. A position he takes very seriously and was honored to receive according to some interviews that followed.

Just as you heard me talk about yesterday with Character I think this secondary is going to sneak up some folks this year. Not only will the transfers make an impact but players like TreSean Smith and Dee Smith getting another year under their belt (and playing in a respectable college defense once again) will do wonders for a group that was picked on quite a bit in 2017. There is no doubt that early in the year teams will test them, and how they respond/perform could dictate how 2018 plays out. If you listened to Dee speak back on media day or during camp you can hear his confidence in not only himself but those around him learning the schemes, identifying breaks, and playing together as a unit. I’ve been preaching it for over 80 days to anyone who will listen...this secondary is going to surprise some folks this season, and Dee is leading the charge.

Sweet Tweet:

My man.