When it comes to recruiting, nothing is ever set in stone. Both kids and coaches can change their mind at any given time decommitting, committing, pulling offers, issuing offers, etc. While predicting exactly who will be on the commit list come National Signing Day in February of 2017 is almost impossible, we can still map out what positions Coach Petrino and staff will likely be focusing on and some players who Louisville has a shot at landing at those given positions.
First and foremost, let’s examine who will be graduating in 2016 as well as any current commitments the Cardinals have. Obviously, both lists are likely to change as some players transfer and some current commits may end up elsewhere.
Quarterback: Louisville is not expected lose anyone at the quarterback position and with Malik Cunningham currently committed, I could see a scenario where Louisville doesn’t take another QB unless they can find a really good fit. One very talented QB, James Blackman, recently committed to FSU despite seeming to be a UofL lean. As far as a couple names to keep an eye on: Jake Foss (worked out for the coaches at Light up the Ville, does not currently hold an offer) and DJ Lee (Athlete who will be playing multiple positions his senior year, including QB)
My Prediction: Unknown
Running Back: Louisville loses 2 running backs next year, starter Brandon Radcliff and backup Malin Jones. It appears UofL wants to take 2 (maybe 3) at this position in 2017. Former UK commit Michael Warren appeared to be an almost certain addition to the class but an offer never materialized from the “Light up the Ville” camp and it appears he is no longer an option. 4* Colin Wilson and 4* AJ Davis appear to be two of the top targets and I like Louisville’s chances of landing at least one of the two. Another former Miami commit Bentavious Thompson I would keep an eye on as well. One wildcard here, Jarell White, does not currently hold an offer from Louisville but the coaches are keeping a close eye on him as he transitions from defensive back to running back (he played RB his sophomore year). If he does well I would expect Louisville to offer and if that happens I would think they have a great shot at landing him. One more name to watch here is Alec Sinkfield, currently committed to WVU.
My Prediction: Colin Wilson (or AJ Davis) & Jarell White
Wide Receiver: Jamari Staples and James Quick will be 2 major losses following the 2016 season. Louisville already has a commitment from slot receiver Josh Johnson in the 2017 class. The top 2 remaining targets I would expect to join the 2017 recruiting class would be Corey Reed and Justin Marshall, two big time prospects that have the ability of developing into stars. Marshall is expected to announce his decision August 31st while Reed is expected to announce sometime next week. Two more names we are watching, Mike Harley (currently committed to WVU) and Leroy Henley. A source believes they have a shot with both still.
My Prediction: Corey Reed & Justin Marshall
Tight End: With the current commitment of Kemari Averett and Texas A&M transfer Jordan Davis arriving this fall for camp, I believe the Cards like where they stand at this position.
My Prediction: Complete
Offensive Line: With 4 current commitments in the class of 2017 and only 2 departing players, Louisville is probably comfortable with the class they have at offensive line but two prospects I would keep an eye on would be Howard Watkins and Caleb Chandler. Watkins recently visited Louisville for the July 15th camp and holds a Louisville offer. Chandler, a 4* offensive lineman has been reported to have Louisville as one of his top schools.
My Prediction: Howard Watkins
Defensive Line: Louisville loses 2 big contributors following the 2016 year in DT DeAngelo Brown and DL Drew Bailey. While Malik Clark is listed as a current commit, I think the staff would like to add a couple of guys that could contribute immediately. One of the biggest names on the list (literally and figuratively) is Tennessee DT Ben Hutch. Hutch has visited Louisville on a couple different occasions and the Cards appear to be on top of his list. Another prospect to keep an eye on is FL lineman Stephon Zayas. Recently, DE Jabreel Stephens visited Louisville and I have heard really good things from his visit. He is one of the top targets as an outside end/rusher for Louisville.
My Prediction: Ben Hutch, Stephon Zayas, & Jabreel Stephens
Linebackers: Possibly 2 of the biggest losses to graduation following the 2016 season will occur at the linebacker position, Devonte Fields and Keith Kelsey. Currently the 2017 class holds commitments from 3 linebackers, Kam Jones, Tadarrius Patterson, and Dorian Etheridge. One potential target going forward to keep an eye on would be Malik Horton. Louisville is one of his final 3 schools and he is being recruited by several current UofL commits. We will also keep an eye on inside linebacker Gary Johnson, who is currently committed to Alabama. The staff likes their chances with him if he does not end up signing with Alabama. Gabe Luyanda (#2 JUCO outside linebacker) is also a name we are watching. A source told me that Louisville leads for Luyanda, ahead of Kansas St. and Mississippi St.
My Prediction: Malik Horton & Gabe Luyanda
Defensive Backs: I will lump both cornerbacks and safeties into the same category since they can be so interchangeable. Louisville is only expected to lose 1 major contributor in the defensive backfield in Josh Harvey-Clemmons. Louisville current has commitments from 6 defensive backs (Rodney Owens, TreSean Smith, Lyn Strange, TJ Jallow, Kaheem Roach and Anthony Johnson). I believe that the Cards are for the most part done with this position, but would take a “big time” commitment should one come along. Two names that would be classified as “big time”: Russ Yeast and CJ Avery. While Avery has Louisville in his top 5, I get the sense a commitment from him may be somewhat of a longshot. Yeast on the other hand, as of last checked, appears to be focusing on Auburn and Louisville, despite a recent Alabama offer.
My Prediction: Russ Yeast
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