You need to have something about yourself in order to earn the nickname ‘Sauce’. To see that tag stick over a prolonged period of time means that the man behind the moniker must be the real deal. Ahmad Gardner certainly appears to be that.
He is a rough diamond for now, but the right amount of polishing could see him transformed into a superstar. That process may start during the summer of 2022. Those already operating at that level are still chasing down ultimate glory in the present, with Super Bowl winner odds currently rating the Kansas City Chiefs as +130 favorites to emerge victoriously. Gardner will harbor ambitions of one day scaling those heights himself.
That remains a pipe dream for now, with there several hurdles for him to clear before a shot at the Vince Lombardi Trophy becomes a realistic proposition, but the first steps en route to that ultimate end goal have to be taken at some stage.
It’s been a pleasure… Uno Out✌🏾 pic.twitter.com/5iAjzkG7bQ— SAUCE (@iamSauceGardner) January 4, 2022
He is not a man looking to run before he can walk, but rapid progress has been made over a short period of time. His rise has been of the meteoric variety, with NFL scouts starting to sit up and take note of undoubted potential.
There have been suggestions, within the mock drafts already being drawn up, that Gardner could work his way into the top 10 when the cream of a collegiate crop head to Las Vegas on April 28th. That may be a little ambitious, but anything is possible as this star continues to rise.
What’s in a name?
The general consensus is that Gardner will be the most gifted cornerback up for grabs in the 2022 Draft. Others may be bigger or quicker, but he combines all of those qualities and lots more besides. He was a unanimous selection as the AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 and a man expected to go well within the first round when selections are made in Nevada.
Gardner’s exploits with the Cincinnati Bearcats have allowed such standing to be secured. A remarkable record during his UC career saw him never allow a touchdown in coverage while receiving yards for those lining up against him were kept to less than 20 per game in a historic campaign.
He had 45 tackles, with five of those being for a loss, three sacks, three interceptions, four pass breakups, and a forced fumble to his name across a 13-1 season for the Bearcats and their run to the College Football playoff semi-finals.
When he was targeted by quarterbacks that should have known better, rival passers were reduced to a rating of just 26.1 – the lowest of any player in the United States. With all of that taken into account, he now stands to become Cincinnati’s first opening-round pick since Bob Bell in 1971.
There is some serious sauce there, with that nickname first handed out by a coach that called him ‘A1 Sauce Sweet Feet Gardner’. That was always a bit of a mouthful and has been trimmed down accordingly through the years. He has lived up to his big billing and somebody somewhere is about to add his unique flavoring to a melting pot of pedigree and potential in the big leagues.