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Tee Higgins credits high-profile college contests for recent Bengals’ successes

In an exclusive sit down with Cincy Jungle, the Bengals’ star wide receiver told us about how the Bengals are the big beneficiaries of their star players previously having big game experience in college.

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Believe it or not, there was a time not so long ago when the Cincinnati Bengals lost uber-meaningful games on the regular. Whether it was in primetime stumbles, playoff embarrassments and/or regular season contests with significant postseason seeding implications, the Bengals weren’t known as the pinnacle of success when the pressure was at its highest.

For a while, the team tried to remedy this by drafting players from big programs and it worked to some degree. What’s truly changed this narrative for the Bengals in recent years is their upping of that draft ante in specifically targeting highly-talented players who have big-game college experience.

Such is the case with current Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, who was a national champion while at Clemson and playing in another (wherein he lost to his current Bengals teammate, Joe Burrow). We spoke to Higgins recently while he was working with local youth at Cincinnati’s Withrow High School in conjunction with both Old Spice and The Boys and Girls Club of America.

The plethora of high-profile games in college and pros was one of the topics of conversation.

“Definitely. Playing in those big games (back-to-back National Championships) helped me be confident in who I was and my game during the Super Bowl,” Higgins told us. “And, I wasn’t really nervous when I got out there—I just got out there, be who I am and played my game.”

Higgins had a huge day in Super Bowl LVI, logging 100 yards and two touchdowns on four catches. The 75-yarder against Jalen Ramsey to open the second half was the most electric of the contest.

Speaking on that Super Bowl, Higgins also reflected on that experience, especially it being so early in his career.

“Yeah, man, it was crazy,” Higgins said while talking about the team’s improbable 2021 run. “Us making the playoffs first, winning the AFC North was the best feeling ever ‘cause it’s been so long since we’ve done it.”

The team’s star receiver also talked about how that division crown was especially important to him because of his growing up a Bengals fan. Still, he saw something in last year’s team that gave him signs they were going to make it to the Super Bowl. Some of it can be traced back to the preparation he had going into some of those aforementioned collegiate Bowl games.

“The playoff run—one thing, we were just so locked in, man,” Higgins said emphatically. “You could just see it in everybody’s face. How hard we were working in practice, how everyone was going in to get treatment—all the little things that we were putting in to make that run”

“And, then the Super Bowl comes and we get to L.A. and it’s just like ‘We’re here’. I’m talking to (Ja’Marr) Chase and T.B. (Tyler Boyd) and I’m like “We’re here—we can’t fall short, we gotta come out here and play our best game and bring it back home to Cincinnati.”

While he expressed disappointment in the narrow loss, he seemed to have found some solace in what that run did to galvanize the city. Some of the other facets in the discussion:

-What wearing the No. 85 jersey means to him, given its history in the franchise.

-Higgins’ mother is a Bengals Twitter All-Star.

-We get to know Higgins off the football field a little bit.

As mentioned, Higgins was at Withrow High School in Cincinnati, preaching the importance of having proper mentors in life to youth at the school. Stressing the importance of achieving good grades because of his own earlier experiences, Higgins teamed up with Old Spice and The Boys and Girls Club of America to speak to local kids.

Associated Press/WKRC

Our thanks to Mr. Higgins, Old Spice, Boys and Girls Club of America, as well as Citizen Relations.

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