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Cincinnati Bearcats Football: 20 Best Defensive Players in School History

Alex CallosCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2012

Cincinnati Bearcats Football: 20 Best Defensive Players in School History

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    As one of the first universities to have a football team, Cincinnati has quite a tradition. They have played in over 1,100 games and have had their fair share of talent come through the program.

    While the tradition is not there compared to that of other big-name programs, the Bearcats have historically had talented players, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

    They have produced a number of talented pass-rushers who have dominated the college level and went on to star in the NFL.

    Here are the 20 best defensive players in Cincinnati Bearcats football history. 

20. Connor Barwin (2005-2008)

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    Connor Barwin may have been much higher on this list had he played all four seasons on the defensive side of the ball.

    He was originally recruited as a tight end and played his first three seasons as a pass-catcher before switching over to defensive end for his senior season.

    He excelled on the defensive side of the ball, finishing the season with 53 tackles and 12 sacks which led the Big East conference. He was a first-team All-Big East selection and honorable mention All-American.

    Barwin also finished his senior season with 20 quarterback pressures, eight pass deflections, three fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks in helping lead Cincinnati to a Big East Championship and Orange Bowl berth. 

    Along with football, he also played a few seasons on the basketball team.

    He is currently starring for the Houston Texans.

19. Artrell Hawkins (1995-1997)

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    Artrell Hawkins was a shutdown corner for three years with Cincinnati.

    While he never put up big numbers, he was one of the best cover corners the school has ever seen.

    Hawkins totaled four career interceptions and one touchdown on the defensive side of the ball.

    He went on to a successful 10-year NFL career. 

18. Blue Adams (1998-2002)

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    Blue Adams was an excellent cover corner for Cincinnati and finished his career with 12 interceptions, ranking him No. 1 at the time his career ended.

    He stil ranks in the top five all-time and is one of the best shutdown corners to ever come through Cincinnati.

    His six interceptions as a senior rank as one of the best single seasons in school history.

    Adams went on to a five-year NFL career and is now a defensive backs coach for the Miami Dolphins.

17. Andre Frazier (2000-2004)

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    Andre Frazier is the first of three prolific Cincinnati Bearcats pass-rushers during this same time period who made the list.

    He is a local kid who was born and raised in Cincinnati.

    Frazier was a two-time first-team All-Conference USA selection in 2003 and 2004.

    He finished his Cincinnati career as the No. 2 all-time leader in sacks with 22.5 and moved on to the NFL where he played six seasons and won two Super Bowls.

16. Ron Kostelnik (1958-1960)

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    Ron Kostelnik was perhaps the best run-stopper the university has ever seen.

    He was a big body who clogged up the middle of the line during his three seasons at Cincinnati.

    Kostelnik was the 26th overall pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 1961 draft and went on to win the first two Super Bowls ever played. 

15. Alex Gordon (1983-1986)

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    Alex Gordon starred at linebacker in the mid-'80s for the Cincinnati Bearcats.

    He was a tackling machine for Cincinnati and ranks fifth all-time with 352 tackles for Cincinnati.

    Gordon never had a standout season, but was consistent throughout his career and finished as one of the best players in school history.

    He went on to star in the NFL for seven seasons after being a second-round selection.

14. Mike Mickens (2005-2008)

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    Mike Mickens was a four-year starter at Cincinnati and is the current leader with 14 career interceptions.

    As a freshman he was a second-team freshman All-American and he improved steadily every season.

    He was a second-team All-Big East selection in 2006 and 2008. He was a first-team selection in 2007. 

    He is also the Bearcats leader in interception return yardage and was an honorable mention All-American in both 2007 and 2008.

    Mickens played a few seasons in the NFL and is now a defensive assistant with the Bearcats. 

13. J.K. Schaffer (2008-2011)

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    J.K. Schaffer was a three-year starter and leader at linebacker for Cincinnati.

    He produced three straight seasons with over 100 tackles, a feat that has only been completed by four others while at Cincinnati.

    He finished his career with 337 career tackles and 27.5 tackles for loss.

    Schaffer was a second-team All-Big East selection in 2010 before becoming a first-team choice last season in 2011.

12. Terrill Byrd (2005-2008)

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    Terrill Byrd was an undersized defensive tackle who was never able to play in the NFL because of his short stature, but that did not prevent him from dominating at the collegiate level. 

    Byrd started from day one at Cincinnati, and at 6'0" and 271 pounds, he was a force in the middle for the Bearcats.

    He was an All-Big East First Team selection for three straight seasons from 2006-2008.

    Byrd was also a second-team All-American in 2007 after his junior campaign. 

11. Phillip Curry (1994-1997)

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    When it comes to tackling, few did it better while at Cincinnati than Phillip Curry. Curry teamed with fellow linebacker Brad Jackson to form the best linebacker combination in Bearcats history.

    He currently ranks as the No. 2 tackler in Bearcats history with 487.

    Curry was consistent throughout his entire Cincinnati Bearcats career and is one of the best linebackers in school history.

10. Trent Cole (2002-2004)

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    Trent Cole was a sack machine during his three seasons in Cincinnati.

    After moving from defensive tackle to end during his freshman season, Cole excelled at getting to the passer.

    He finished his college career with 238 tackles, 19 sacks and 48 tackles for loss.

    Cole was a first-team All-Conference USA selection in 2003 and 2004 after winning Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2002.

    He was also a third-team All-American in 2004 after finishing the season with 68 tackles, 8.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss, which was fourth in the nation.

    Cole has moved on to the NFL and has been a two-time Pro Bowl selection.

9. Sam Garnes (1993-1996)

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    Sam Garnes was a run-stopping safety who was also great against the pass.

    He currently ranks in the top 15 all-time with 317 career tackles at Cincinnati and finished his career with nine interceptions. 

    Garnes was an extremely hard hitter who went on to a successful NFL career with the New York Giants and New York Jets.

8. Mike Brookins (1979-1981)

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    Michael Brookins had the most prolific single season when it comes to tackles in Cincinnati history.

    While he totaled 356 tackles during his three-year career to rank fourth all-time, his first season in Clifton was certainly his finest.

    He had 186 tackles, which ranks as the greatest single season in Cincinnati history and if he had played four seasons, he would likely have ended up as the all-time leading tackler in Cincinnati history. 

7. Antwan Peek (1998-2002)

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    When it comes to sacks, nobody in the history of Cincinnati did it better than Antwan Peek.

    Peak was a menace at rushing the passer from his defensive end position and finished his Cincinnati career with 27.5 sacks.

    He is also the all-time leader with 56 tackles for loss and finished his career with 200 tackles.

    Peak had his best season in 2001 when he finished with 12.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss.

    He is also a local kid from Cincinnati and went on to a six-year NFL career. 

6. Clarence Sanders (1972-1975)

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    Clarence Sanders was another of the many studs at the linebacker position to come through Cincinnati.

    He was one of the few Bearcats who have ever been selected first-team All-Americans as he earned the honor in 1975 during his senior season.

    Sanders later went on to a successful NFL career.

5. Derek Wolfe (2008-2011)

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    Derek Wolfe shined at Cincinnati over the past four seasons and is the greatest all-around defensive lineman to come through Clifton

    Wolfe was a three-year starter who was a two-time first-team All-Big East selection in 2010 and 2011.

    He was also a second-team All-American in each of those two seasons.

    In 2011, Wolfe put together one of the best seasons in school history, finishing with 19.5 tackles for loss, which was good for sixth in the country. He also totaled 9.5 sacks from the defensive tackle position.

    Wolfe finished off his career in 2011 by winning the Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year award.

4. Tom Marvaso (1973-1975)

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    No defensive back in Cincinnati history was better than Tom Marvaso.

    Marvaso starred during his three seasons at Cincinnati and was a starter at safety in each of those three years.

    During his senior season in 1975, he was a first-team All-American.

    He also excelled on special teams as a punt returner. He still ranks in the top five all-time in punt return yardage for a season and career. He ranks fourth all-time in punt returns for touchdowns.

    He was drafted in the sixth round of the 1976 draft by the New York Jets.

3. Karl Woods (1977-1980)

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    Karl Woods is the all-time leading tackler in Cincinnati history with 502 career tackles.

    Woods was consistent throughout his four seasons and had 155 tackles during his sophomore season in 1978. As a senior, he recorded 161 tackles, which was his best output during his career.

    He was a model of consistency for the Bearcats over his four seasons and his 502 tackles may stand as the all-time best for years to come.

2. Brad Jackson (1994-1997)

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    Brad Jackson was a tremendous all-around athlete and displayed it every game during his four seasons in Clifton.

    He was a pass-rushing linebacker who was also a tackling machine and finished his career with 392 tackles, good for third all-time.

    During his senior season in 1997, he finished with 168 tackles, which is the second-best single season in school history.

    Jackson also played a few seasons on the basketball team and went on to have a six-year NFL career after being selected in the third round.

1. Michael Woods (1975-1977)

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    Michael Woods was a menace on the defensive side of the ball for Cincinnati and was a first-team All-American during his senior season in 1977.

    He was as talented as any defensive player the school has ever seen.

    Known as War Daddy, Woods had one of the best seasons in school history in 1977.

    He went onto the NFL but was tragically shot and paralyzed in 1982. He sadly passed away in 2009 at the age of 54.

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