Cincinnati Bearcats Football: 5 Game-Changing Seniors for 2011

Alex Callos@@alexcallosCorrespondent IMay 13, 2011

Cincinnati Bearcats Football: 5 Game-Changing Seniors for 2011

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    The Cincinnati Bearcats have a tremendous senior-laden class, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. 

    After only losing 13 seniors from last season's team, Cincinnati returns all 11 starters from the defensive side of the ball. 

    That senior leadership will certainly help Cincinnati improve on last season's disappointing 4-8 record. 

    These seniors have been to two BCS bowl games and been through two different head coaches. 

    Here are five seniors who will help carry the Bearcats back near the top of the Big East. 

5. Derek Wolfe, Defensive Tackle

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    Derek Wolfe is the big man in the middle for Cincinnati on the defensive side of the ball. 

    After seeing playing time as a true freshman in 2008, Wolfe stepped into the starting role in 2009 and excelled last season as a big run-stopper. 

    Wolfe is a big body, and at 6'5" and over 300 pounds, he must control the line for Cincinnati to be successful. 

    Out of everybody on the team, Wolfe might have the most NFL potential and will be a force in the middle in his third season as a starter. 

4. D.J. Woods, Wide Receiver

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    Like Wolfe, D.J. Woods enters his third year in the starting lineup. 

    As a sophomore, Woods was the No. 3 receiver of a very talented group. He caught 51 passes for 640 yards and four touchdowns.

    Last season he was in the No. 2 role behind senior Armon Binns and totaled 57 receptions for 898 yards and eight touchdowns. 

    This season, Woods will be the Bearcats' go-to receiver.

    His speed and athleticism make him the perfect punt returner and he will be called upon on special teams once again for Cincinnati. 

    Woods is one of the most explosive players in the Big East and will do it all for Cincinnati next season. 

3. J.K. Schaffer, Linebacker

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    J.K. Schaffer is a local product and a tackling machine for the Bearcats. 

    After seeing action on special teams as a freshman, Schaffer stepped into the starting role at linebacker as a sophomore. 

    He recorded 100 tackles as a sophomore, good for second on the team, and led the team last season in tackles.

    Schaffer is one of many experienced players on a defense that should be much improved in 2011. 

2. Isaiah Pead, Running Back

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    Isaiah Pead is one of the most explosive players in all of the Big East. 

    Pead has been near the top of the country in yards per carry the past two seasons. 

    As a sophomore, Pead shared the running back duties and finished with 806 yards and nine touchdowns. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry. 

    Last season, after missing a few games, Pead burst onto the scene with 1,029 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. 

    He has as much big-play ability as anybody in the country and will help lead a more balanced attack for Cincinnati in 2011. 

1. Zach Collaros, Quarterback

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    Even though he had a slightly disappointing season last year, Collaros was still a first team All-Big East selection. 

    Collaros passed for nearly 3,000 yards last season to go along with 26 touchdowns. 

    He was sacked 30 times and will need his offensive line to perform better in 2011 for the Bearcats to be successful.  

    Collaros can do it with both his legs and his arm. He has a chance to put up some gigantic numbers if the Bearcats can help give him some protection.