UC Bearcats Football News: Corleone, Kandra Collect All-Big 12 Second Team Honors

By Stretch Jenkinson

Dontay Corleone is always tough on opposing offensive units (courtesy UC Sports Communications)

Five other Bearcats snagged honorable mention accolades

Luke Kandra came back home to Cincinnati from Louisville

CINCINNATI – Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Dontay Corleone and redshirt junior right guard Luke Kandra were name to the All-Big 12 Second Team on Wednesday by the league.

Both players are Cincinnati natives who are expected to be team leaders for the Bearcats next fall following standout 2023 seasons in their first year as starters.

Nicknamed “The Godfather,” Corleone has proven to be one of the country’s top interior defensive linemen the past two seasons. He finished with 39 tackles, 6.5 TFLs and 3.0 sacks as a team captain in 2023. In 2022, he was tabbed as the nation’s highest-rated defensive player by Pro Football Focus during a breakout redshirt freshman season, finishing with 45 tackles, 5.5 TFLs and three sacks en route to AP All-America and AFCA Freshman All-America honors.

Corleone was a 2023 Preseason All-American by the AP. He announced on Tuesday he would bypass the NFL Draft and return to Cincinnati for his redshirt junior season.

In 2023, Kandra finished as the second-highest graded guard in the Big 12 and fourth-best guard in the nation according to Pro Football Focus.

A transfer from Louisville, Kandra led the Bearcats with 79 knockdowns and a 92% overall grade, rating as UC’s best offensive lineman in 10 of 12 games. He logged 895 snaps during the regular season – the third-most of any guard in the country.

Led in part by Kandra’s blocking, Cincinnati finished fifth in the nation in rushing (217.1 ypg) and junior running back Corey Kiner tallied the 20th 1,000-yard rushing season in Bearcats’ history.

Additionally, Corleone received votes for Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year, while Kandra received votes for Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year.

Five Bearcats Collect Honorable Mention All-Big 12 Accolades
Fifth-year senior Jowon Briggs, junior punter Mason Fletcher, redshirt junior center Gavin Gerhardt, senior wide receiver Xzavier Henderson and senior defensive back Deshawn Pace all grabbed honorable mention All-Big 12 honors.

Briggs, a team captain, finished with 27 tackles and 6.0 TFLS, while Fletcher averaged 43.0 on 45 punts, placing 23 inside the 20. Gerhardt, also a captain, paired with Kandra to lead an offensive line that helped UC rank fifth in the country in rushing as well as 36th in total offense (426.1).
Henderson finished with 58 receptions for 782 yards and three touchdowns, ranking among the Big 12’s Top 10 in catches and yards.

Pace wrapped up his Bearcats career with 80 tackles, including 11 for loss, during his senior season.