WHO’S GONE?

Deiontrez Mount, Lorenzo Mauldin

The Cards will lose BOTH starting Outside Linebackers from 2014 due to graduation.  The pair of Deiontrez Mount and Lorenzo Mauldin was extremely athletic and productive.  LOZO is projected as a 1st round draft choice for the NFL this May and was the Cardinals 5th leading tackler with 13 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, and 11 hits on the quarterback.  Mount was 9th in tackles and had 10.5 TFLs of his own in 2014.  Both guys were extremely long and smart football players.  They will be difficult to replace.

WHO’S BACK?

Trevon Young (6’4, 229, Sr.), Stacy Thomas (6’1, 236, Soph), Finesse Middleton (5-11, 243, Soph), Nick Dawson-Brents (6-3, 257, Jr.), , Keith Brown, (6’1, 234, Jr.), Keith Kelsey (6’1, 233, Jr.), James Burgess (6’0, 231, Sr.), James Hearns (6’3, 268, Soph),  Blake Ramsey (5-11, 208, Jr.), Royce Donovan (6’2, 218, Jr.)

Inside

The Cards may lose its SAM and WILL Linebackers on the outside in Mount & Mauldin, but they do return BOTH Inside Linebackers, including the entire two deep inside.  Keith Kelsey had NEARLY an outstanding season in 2014, finishing with 87 tackles, 7 TFLs, and 6 sacks.  I say nearly in regards to Kelsey because he was thisclose to scoring about 4-5 defensive touchdowns in 2014.  When Keith begins executing those type of plays and continues the excellent play at the MIKE position, he’ll be a can’t miss ALL-ACC performer.  At the MO spot, James Burgess fought through some injuries in 2014 and still delivered as the 3rd leading tackler for the defense registering 71 takedowns, 10 TFLs, 3 sacks, and 3 INTs.  Big year.  Burgess decided to remain a Cardinal for his senior season.

Special teams standout Stacy Thomas might have lobbied for James Burgess to head to the NFL….because Thomas is READY to make an impact for the Cardinals.  Stacy was always in the mix on special teams and even blocked a punt vs. Boston College.  One thing is clear from watching him play, he’s an athlete ready to compete.  Stacy Thomas is NEXT.

Of course, we’ve seen what Keith Brown can do on the football field.  After returning from injury, Keith Kelsey was able to cement himself into the MIKE role.  However, Keith Brown may be too talented to keep off of the field and was used in situations at the WILL Linebacker spot when Lorenzo Mauldin was out with an injury vs. Boston College.  Right now I’m leaving Keith Brown inside because that is his natural position, but it’s hard for coaches to keep athletes shelved when they have needs at other positions.  Keep an eye on Brown this Spring.

OUTSIDE

Replacing Lorenzo Mauldin at WILL won’t be easy, but the man most likely charged with the task was Lozo’s back-up in 2014, Trevon Young.  Young played in 11 games and registered 7 tackles including a sack and 2 TFLs.  Those aren’t staggering numbers by any stretch, but we do have to consider that Trevon played behind one of the most productive defensive players Louisville has had in about a decade.  Still, just being Mauldin’s back-up doesn’t guarantee anything.

Deiontrez Mount’s SAM back-up in 2014 was former U.S. Army All-American Nick Dawson-Brents who figures to snag at least one of the outside linebacker position.   Don’t be surprised if Nick switches over to the WILL position, but for now I’m leaving him where he was throughout 2014.  Dawson-Brents played in 12 games and registered 5 tackles.

As you can see here, there is a lot of returning promise, but not a great deal of returning production.  What that means is that the Outside Linebacker spots are WIDE OPEN for competition.  I like Finesse Middleton to come in and factor at one of the spots this Spring.  Middleton is a fierce pass-rusher who played in 7 games as a redshirt freshman. Also it’s hard to imagine James Hearns not making an impact in 2015 after two years in the program.  A Top 200 player nationally in the 2013 class and unanimous 4-star prospect by all of the major scouting services and had offers from Florida, Auburn, Alabama, FSU, LSU, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Ohio State.

The Outside Linebacker spot is crucial in this defense so there will be a full on job interview for both positions.  This is a big position to watch.

WHO’S COMING?

Isaac Stewart (6’2, 250, RS Fr.), Henry Famurewa (6-2, 237, RS Fr.)

One of the reasons the coaches may feel good about moving Keith Brown outside may is if the highly touted Isaac Stewart is ready to play in 2015.  We’re working to confirm whether or not Stewart retained his redshirt during 2014 (he registered no statistics), but either way Isaac was a highly rated inside LB prospect out of Butler HS in Charlotte, NC and chose the Cards over UK, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina, NC State, and Purdue.

WHO MAY BE COMING?

Amonte Caban (6’2, 210, Fr.), Jonathan Greenard (6’4, 220, Fr.), Tim Bonner (6’5, 225, Fr.)

Smiths Station, AL Inside Linebacker Amonte Caban committed to the Cards back in September and is a HIGH LEVEL recruit for the 2015 class.  Caban chose the Cards over offers from Clemson, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

On the outstide the Cards have a pair of commits that really fit the body type and frame of Mauldin & Mount in Jonathan Greenard & Tim Bonner. Greenard from Hiram, GA could potentially play TE, but I think we will see him at OLB chose the Cards in June over an offer from Kentucky. And Tim Bonner will most certainly be an OLB, from Demopolis, AL chose Louisville over Ole Miss & Mississippi State.

BEST GUESS DEPTH CHART

SAM

1) Nick Dawson-Brents OR
2) James Hearns
3) Henry Famurewa
4) Jonathan Greenard

MIKE

1) Keith Kelsey
2) Keith Brown
3) Isaac Stewart

MO

1) James Burgess
2) Stacy Thomas
3) Amonte Caban

WILL

1) Trevon Young
2) Finesse Middleton
3) Tim Bonner

There is no way I expect for this depth chart to look anything like this after Spring Practice, especially at the SAM and WILL positions..  But for the moment it is my best guess for where things might stand right now.  I’m listing Keith Brown on the inside but I do expect that he could move to the SAM position and Nick Dawson over to the WILL.  Of course we also know that Louisville is not yet finished recruiting this position and there may be additions to this very important position well after signing day.

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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