Lost In the “Sauce”

Lost In the Sauce

Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner has emerged as one of the greatest defensive backs in NCAA history. Coming off a record breaking season at Cincinnati, he looks to take these skills to the NFL.

Sauce became a household name around the Cincinnati area after a 2019 matchup against UCF. As a true freshman, Sauce had a momumental pick six in Nippert stadium, as the Bearcats upset the Knights. His greatness continued over the rest of his college career.

Sauce taking it the house after intercepting Dillon Gabriel.

During the 2020 campaign, Sauce became a crucial part of the defense, allowing them to make a trip to a New Year’s six bowl game. Sauce wouldn’t play in this game, and the Bearcats wound up losing.

Entering the 2021 season, everyone knew Cincy had a shot at the CFP, and the defense would be their backbone. Coming into this season, Sauce had a lot of hype around him, since he had not given up a touchdown in his career.

Sauce would live up to this hype, by locking down every receiver he faced. When Cincy traveled to Bloomington, Indiana, to face the Hoosiers, Sauce had a tough matchup against Ty Fryfogle. Fryfogle was a pre-season All-American, but so was Sauce. In this game, Sauce held Fryfogle to a mere 13 yards.

Following this matchup with Indiana, Cincinnati would travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame, where they entered as 2-point favorites. Sauce was once again challenged by Notre Dame’s receivers, but he yet again showed up, allowing only two catches for 9 yards.

Cincinnati wound up making history as the first group of five team to make the CFP, and Sauce played a large role in that. Week after week he would shut down opposing teams passing games. With a matchup against Alabama in the National semifinal, he would surely be challenged again.

Jameson Williams was one of the best receivers in the nation, destroying every DB he faced, however he had not gone against Sauce. There was a lot of talk that Sauce had great stats due to playing lower competition, and that Williams would destroy him. That proved to be one of the coldest takes ever, as Sauce held him to two catches for -2 yards.

Sauce achieved many things throughout his tenure at Cincinnati. Cincy fans will be left with memories of him for years to come. Memories such as his constant lockdown defense, or his blindside sack of Clayton Tune in American Athletic Conference championship game.

Sauce Gardner’s sack of Clayton Tune, portrayed by Tenor.com

Sauce is arguably the greatest player to ever come through the University of Cincinnati, and he put that in effect at the NFL scouting combine.

Sauce ran a 4.41 40 yard dash, and was measured as having a 78.5″ wingspan. Sauce had been seen as a first round pick, but after the combine, he has solidified himself as a top 5 pick, with some talk of even being the first overall pick. Peter Schrager, of Fox Sports reported that NFL scouts have viewed him as the top overall player from the combine, with notable consideration from the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hold the first pick in the upcoming draft.

Many people have become skeptical, wondering if his game will transfer to the next level. Sauce’s 40 time was relatively slow for a defensive back, however his monstrous build makes up for this. His arms measured in at 33.5″, allowing for tremendous reach. Sauce’s build has caused him to look like slender man at times, but his play-making abilities always show how great he is.

Sauce’s reach allows him to play a step or so behind any receiver his may face. Time after time we have seen Sauce appear to be beaten on a route, and at the last second he would come flying in and prevent a completion.

There’s no doubt that Sauce is an elite player. There has been some doubt about whether Sauce’s elite abilities can translate into the NFL or not. Sauce put these doubts to rest when he was asked about how he will react to giving up his first touchdown. To which he responded, “I don’t have plans on giving one up in the NFL.”

Sauce has that do anything mentality, and the talent to back it up. Any team that is lucky enough to draft Sauce Gardner will be getting a surefire pro bowler. Sauce will immediately make an impact on the league, and make any defense better.

Cincy fans will certainly miss Sauce, but hopefully the Bengals can land him at some point in his career, just to revive his legacy in the city.