In the constant ebb & flow of Louisville Football’s last three years a few things have stayed the same. Junior Calvin Pryor is an exception. Much of his three years have been filled with one constant — success.
The 208 pound, 6-2 athletic freak from Port St. Joe, FL has been called “linebacker” by his Head Coach mostly due to his preference to play close to the line of scrimmage. Pryor, recently named an ESPN mid-season All-American, has a thing for hitting people hard.
“I like to hit people,” Pryor explained. “I’m just trying to send me a message. When I hit guys, I try to help him up, so when ‘You catch the ball again, I’m gonna be right back here again.”
Hard-hitting was a constant one-word answer used to describe Pryor. He registered a team leading 14 tackles last week against Rutgers and paired it with an Interception. His performance earned him AAC Defensive Player of the Week. If Pryor continues his hot play, one that’s vaulted the Cardinals Defense to the Nation’s Leading score limiters, he’ll be known by another name possibly as soon as next year — Professional Football Player.
“I’m not worried about any of that right now,” He noted. “Right now, I’m focused on this team and winning every game. That’s my main priority.”
Pryor has caught the eye of several NFL teams with his consistent & measured play this season. In the eyes of scouts, Pryor is projected as a 3rd to 4th rounder depending in the 2014 Draft depending on who you ask. That’s far cry from his previous 7th round projection prior to the season beginning.
“It’s different now. Now I just want it. I’m hungry,” said Pryor. “Our Coach talks about having remarkable performances. I’m just buying into what they talk about it.”
The draft talk will come and if his recent play is any indication it will get louder as the season progresses. But for now, all that can wait.
“Mr. Efficiency” QB Blake Bortles and George O’Leary are coming to town. That whole winning every game thing? It will face rare realistic jeopardy Friday night when Louisville (6-0, 2-0) meets Central Florida in a de facto AAC Championship game. The same Central Florida team (4-1,1-0) that suffered a heartbreaking loss to SEC power South Carolina.
“South Carolina has a great defense. You see they were up for the challenge, so I’m pretty sure they’ll be ready for our ‘D’,” Pryor explained. ” [Blake] Bortles likes pressure a lot. They went to Penn State and won the game and he didn’t get rattled at all. Our main focus is to try to rattle him early in the game, so we can make him throw so balls later in the game.”
Iif you don’t know about Blake Bortles you haven’t been paying attention. The four-year Junior has been one of the most consistent and effective QBs in the Country. Bortles has the prerequisites to be regarded as one of the Nation’s elite signal callers as a Member of the Maxwell Award Watch List, Davie O’Brien. He received high praise from one Louisville player this week.
“I feel like he kind of plays like Teddy [Bridgewater],” DE Marcus Smith said. “He manages the game. He throws the ball well. We gotta be on our P’s & Q’s against him.”
Bortles success has largely been predicated on his protection. Central Florida ranks in the Top 50 of College Football in Sacks Allowed in 2013. Louisville will look to counter that with a defensive end duo that combined for 5 sacks last season. Even with that deadly combination, it’s expected to be a tall order. After all, the Fighting Jadevon Clowney’s of South Carolina were limited to little pressure.
“The reason why they don’t give up a lot of sacks is because they always in a seven-man protection, and their always protecting the QB,” Pryor noted. “We’re gonna try to blitz. We’re just going to be aggressive and try to make something happen.”
If Louisville is unable to pressure with their Defensive line, expect them to lean on, who else? Calvin Pryor. Whether it’s a blitz, an interception, He’s expected to be making plays. He’s consistently done it all year. His 30 total tackles rank him near the top of the list of Safeties in the Country. It comes to no surprise to his Head Coach.
“He has developed his game so much. He is a student of the game,” Head Coach Charlie Strong said. “A lot of time when guys study the game, they become really good football players. That is what [Calvin] Pryor has been able to do.”
In his third year, he’s much more well-versed and it’s something that will give him a competitive advantage Thursday. He’s taking football maturity to a different degree.
“I’m watching more film, I’m watching the guys tendencies, whoever I play against,” He said. “Whenever I step on the field, I feel like I’ll be even more ready to go.”