‘He’s resilient’: Cincy native earns another opportunity with Bengals

Credit: Aaron Doster

Credit: Aaron Doster

CINCINNATI — Former Loveland High School football coach Fred Cranford isn’t surprised to see quarterback Drew Plitt earn another opportunity in the NFL.

The Cincinnati Bengals signed Plitt, a 2016 Loveland High School graduate, to its practice squad on Monday. It was another rewarding moment for Cranford, who coached Plitt and Loveland to the 2013 Division II state title.

“He’s resilient, his football IQ — he loves the game,” Cranford said. “Just a hard-working kid with all the intangibles. He just keeps grinding. Good things happen to good people.”

Plitt, listed at 6-foot-2 and 217 pounds, is a first-year player from Ball State University. He was initially signed as a free agent by the Bengals in 2022. He played in two preseason games for Cincinnati that season before being waived.

Cranford, a volunteer assistant coach at Fenwick High School, is a longtime Bengals season ticket holder. He watched with his then-10-year-old son as Plitt went 6-for-6 on a drive that culminated in a touchdown pass against the Cardinals in the 2022 preseason.

“We’ve had Bengal tickets for 25 years and it was probably one of the coolest Cincinnati Bengal moments for me,” Cranford said. “I felt a part of it, connected and so super proud of what he did on that particular drive. And to see my son celebrate — it was a good time. Those are moments, man, that you wouldn’t trade for nothing.”

Plitt appeared in four games for the XFL’s Arlington Renegades in the 2023 season. He completed 63 of 99 pass attempts (63.6%) for 668 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions, according to the team website.

The 25-year-old worked out with the Bengals earlier this year, Cranford said. The Bengals signed Plitt to the practice squad Monday, just three days after starting quarterback Joe Burrow’s season-ending injury.

Cranford said Plitt’s work ethic and desire to be in the NFL is very evident.

“The more you put him in an office with Joe Burrow, (quarterbacks coach) Dan Pitcher and Jake Browning - the kid is going to saturate great information and he’s going to learn things quicker,” Cranford said. “He’s going to be ready for an opportunity. And that’s all he’s ever wanted.”

Plitt starred at Loveland where he set a school record for career touchdown passes (42) and in 2013 led the team to a Division II state title over Cleveland Glenville.

It was the first state football title for Loveland in program history. Cranford said he will never forget Plitt’s hunger for success in high school.

“The kid wanted it more than we did,” said Cranford. “And that’s usually just the opposite. Coaches want it more than the players. For him to be here in this situation (with the Bengals) — a surprise — not at all. You saw him just do big thing after big thing.”

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