Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Memorable Bearcats: DeJuan Gossett


This was originally going to be a companion piece to the Wisconsin Memorable Games piece, but the answers of the questions that I asked were so good, that they deserve a stand alone post. Since this was a person that I was a big fan of, this was even easier to make it's own post. The first Memorable Bearcat is DeJuan Gossett.
The picture is of DeJuan doing what he did best while at Cincinnati, tackle. When you look at the list of tackles made in a UC career, you'll see his name. In 1999, Gossett had 82 solo tackles. That's good for 9th place all time. In total tackles, he ranks 9th all time in UC history with 327. He's second all time at UC with 222 solo tackles. He was a tackling machine. He was also a free saftey, which makes his accomplishments that much better. Oh, and he did all of that after blowing out his knee his freshman year. He part of a killer secondary. Blue Adams patrolled the same secondary, and he's UC's leader in interceptions. Shawn Ferguson also was a DB back then. He's 6th on UC's all time interception yards list, and first in INTS for TDS with 3. That's probably all because of DeJuan. I'm not the only one who was a big fan of #22. The Conference USA coaches, or whoever voted for All-Team C-USA, voted him second team Conference USA in 1999 and 2000. DeJuan was assigned by the Giants to NFL Europe in 2002. He blew out his knee for the second time, unfortunately, and that ended his playing days. But, that doesn't change the facts that DeJuan Gossett was a great Bearcat. He's a great guy for answering my questions. Let's get on to his answers.

Bearcats Blog:  What was the team's mindset going into the (Wisconsin) game?
DeJuan Gossett: The teams mind set going into that game was pretty loose.  We had just lost a game to Troy State that we thought we should have won minus a couple of big plays.  We may not have had the talent that you see now in all positions but we were kinda mean in certain phases...Our defense flew around and hit in all position so we werent really scared of the running attack or anything  or the speedy reciever.  Our coaches on defense were so good that they instilled in us that we could beat anyone and we kinda carried that swagger.  We knew that Robert Cooper would run well and as long as Deontay controlled the game and we didnt have turnovers we would have a shot.  We didnt get on TV a lot back in those days so that was a big lift also...guys had parents watching for the first time....and the stadium had a good size crowd...It was probably like a bowl game for us after playing in front of 10,000 the week before. 

BB: Tinker Keck has an awesome name. What were you thinking when he had the punt hit his face and Wisconsin recovered?
DG: Yeah..that name has done him well.  When that play happened it was pretty deflating in that we had just had a big stop and it changed momentum but we had made plays all day so we were pretty confident that we could atleast hold them to a field goal.  Its definitely a tough thing that late in the game heading to the gatorade to have to turn around and bow your neck again. 

BB: How good a player was Ron Dayne? Was he the best back you played against in college?
DG: Ron Dayne was good and had surprisingly quick feet to go with his size.  I think the thing that helped him as well was the size of that offensive line...They were huge and he was compact so you couldnt really see him and then all of a sudden you have this big bowling bowl rumbling down the field.  The plan definitely wasnt to give him that many yards but we kept him out of the end zone just enough.  I left that game with respect for him for sure but though that he was a little overrated ...but if they would have won that could have been different.  The best back I played against had to be Edgerrin James the year before.  He isnt as big as Dayne but it took serious gang tackling to get this guy down.  He would twist and spin and had a low base where you took a lot of the impact as the tackler. 

BB: You were guarding Nick Davis on the final play weren't you? Do you remember what you were thinking when the pass went over his head?
DG: I wasnt one on one but we had a bracket coverage where I pretty much had the inside routes with a corner covering the quick stuff and the outside routes.  It was pretty stressful because I had broke on a play I think two plays earlier where I would have had the Int but Isaac Thomas got a hand on it in the air.  Anytime a team that good has a couple chances anything can happen.  We knew they were going to him and we had him covered well....I saw the ball come out pretty high so I was nervous that I had left too much room in the back of the end zone while cutting off the qb's angle for a pass.  When it was overthrown I was kinda in shock for awhile and then there was just mayhem.  That was the first time that I had seen the stadium like that ever and Im glad that it was just a precursor for what the guys are doing now.  I dont think I stopped smiling for atleast 2 days but then it was time to focus for Ohio State.

BB: You were pretty awesome while at UC. You have the 9th best solo tackling season of all time, are 9th all time in tackles, and 2nd in solo tackles, and 2 time 2nd team CUSA. What are a handful of your best memories while at Cincinnati? 
DG: My best memory was being able to play again....Two days before the Conference USA inaugural game I tore my ACL, MCL, PCL, and both meniscus in my left knee.  I was going to start at Nickel back that game as a true freshman with some great players....Sam Garnes, Artrell Hawkins, Chris Hewitt.  I was devastated and the prognosis wasn't good...they said I would be lucky to walk without a limp and that I would be able to play again.  God, Pat Graman, and Mick Marotti had a different thought and I was able to start all 4 years which gave me an opportunity to produce some of those numbers.
I had the opportunity to play with great coaches....Rex Ryan, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh, Rick Smith, Greg Hudson, etc...Just learning and seeing the passion that those guys had for the game was special. 
I was kinda the first local guy to pick UC and I took pride and had hoped to make it a special place where others would do the same.  We started building that slowly...we had good years when I was there my Freshman year....going to the first bowl in like 50+ years thanks to Huggins and the basketball team.  and then my senior year even though we lost to Marshall.....We didnt do everything that I had hoped but I thought that we were in a good direction and its just a honor to have played at UC....there is nothing like having the opportunity to represent your hometown community and I know that coach Coombs and the staff will continue to build through Cincinnati and allow others to experience the same. 

BB:  I can't believe I didn't ask you about the Dayne fumble. If you don't mind real quick, do you remember what you were doing as that play unfolded? Was that the moment you knew you guys would win?

DG:  The fumble was crazy.....At the time I lived with Bobby Fuller and Jeff Burrows.  Bobby caused it and Jeff recovered it so it was awesome all around. 

The play started and I remember being close to the line of scrimmage...I think Dayne cut it inside and I thought he had a touchdown for sure.  Would have killed us after being ahead and playing well to have that turnover lead to the touchdown.  I see Bobby go to hit him and honestly I didnt think he was going to win that battle...then boom...the ball is was like a inhaler to a asthma victim because we would have been out of breaths or atleast in a bad spot.  When Jeff jumped on that ball I had a feeling that this might be our day.  The year before we had so many breaks go the other so it was refreshing...we just couldn't do any wrong. 
I need to get that game on video.  Do you have it?

Thank you for the opportunity.  It was good to relive some great Bearcat moments.  I appreciate the exposure that you are giving to the program. 

No DeJuan Gossett, thank you. Thank you for not only answering my questions so vividly, but thanks for being a great Bearcat and a better guy. 

I know I didn't ask him about the Dayne fumble. I stupidly didn't include it when I asked the other questions. I shot him an email asking about it, and if he answers, I'll update this with that. It's updated. If you have a video of the game, shoot an email or comment here, or on twitter. Or, twitter to to DeJuan Gossett himself

No comments:

Post a Comment