The Louisville Passing Offense enjoyed an 84-yard increase in production per game and saw the ranking rise from 74th to 24th. Not all of the production in the passing game came from Wide Receivers, but a large majority of it was. Louisville Wideouts caught 66% of the passes for 73% of the yardage, and 74% of the Touchdowns. The Louisville passing game was heavily dependent on the wide receivers to make plays and the same will be true when the new season begins this fall. There really wasn’t a game that the Cardinals’ WRs stood out more than the Sugar Bowl. The vaunted Florida defense had trouble containing the passing attack and Eli Rogers, Andrell Smith, DeVante Parker, and Damian Copeland all exhibited dominance over the Florida secondary which was rated the #1 pass efficiency defense in the nation coming into the game.
Eli Rogers (5-10, 182, JR) caught 46 passes for 505 yards and 4 Touchdowns in 2012. Rogers has shown consistent numbers with a slight improvement over his 2011 production. Eli is sure-handed and has proven to be Teddy Bridgewater’s security blanket. When the Cards need a big play or Teddy gets in trouble the ball seems to find Eli Rogers. Whether it is a diving catch or taking a shot or seeing the ball through a small window Eli Rogers gets the job done. Eli does not possess top level speed or size, but his lateral quickness is world-class. Currently Eli is listed #2 at H-Receiver behind Robert Clark on the depth chart, but I think Bridgewater would throw to Rogers if he was on the sideline, in the stands, or outside the stadium. The connection is magnetic.
Damian Copeland (6-1, 182, SR) defined BREAKOUT in 2012. Damian Copeland caught 0 passes in 2011. ZERO. In 2012 ‘Honey Mustard’ hauled in a team-leading 50 catches for 628 yards and 2 TDs. Copeland got things started with an impossible catch against Kentucky when backed up against the goal line. Then it was big catch after big catch all the way until the first play of the second half in the Sugar Bowl when Copeland roasted a Florida defender to take a 30-10 lead. Copeland struggled with injuries until his junior season breakout, it seems that the injury bug is the only thing that can hold him back, and even missed some time in Fall Camp as a precaution. Honey Mustard (or Pineapple) should have an excellent 2013 is listed #1 at the Z-Receiver position.
DeVante Parker (6-3, 209, JR) is a homegrown member of the AFROS (America’s Finest Receivers on Saturday). There aren’t many better receivers in college football and Parker delivered a HUGE sophomore season for the Cards with 40 catches, 744 yards, and 10 TDs. Now the Cards just have to get him MORE touches. Chew on this: DeVante Parker is 7th All-Time in Career Receiving TDs at UofL with just 58 career catches. Parker was 4th on the team in receptions in 2012 and ranked #1 in yards & TDs. Parker’s 10 Touchdowns in 2012 was the second best receiving TD performance in school history and he did it while being 4th in receptions during 2012. Get him more touches! When the ball goes up you can count on Parker to come down with it, DeVante has excellent hands & body control and refuses to be caught from behind. He’s special.
Kai De La Cruz (6-0, 186, JR) (formerly Kai Dominguez) was used primarily as a punt returner during 2012, but all of the sudden showed up in the Sugar Bowl at WR. It was curious Kai’s limited involvement all season, but I think him being inserted into the rotation signals some development. I really liked Dominguez coming out of high school and he’s had a strange arc at UofL after playing out of need as a true freshman and then red-shirting in year 2, and then in year 3 being a punt returner only. I think we might see more of Kai in 2013. We’ll see. In the Spring Kai hauled in 3 receptions for 18 yards and De La Cruz is currently listed as the #3 X-WR.
Jarrett Davis (5-9, 172, SR) is a player who I have always thought would make an impact. With Scott Radcliff now out of school I think Jarrett gets a lot of that slot time. I really like Davis, and Teddy likes him with the fade route too. I’m excited to see if Davis can get over the hump and be more of a regular part of the rotation, but Jarrett tweeted on August 14th that he just got out of surgery. Davis does have a redshirt available if his injury slows him back to the field, and early in Fall Camp Jarrett was active as a Holder for Field Goal attempts. Davis was listed #2 at the Z-Receiver position behind Damian Copeland at the beginning of Fall Camp.
Andrell Smith is one I am going to miss a lot. He played as a true freshman in Steve Kragthorpe’s final year and was little used & had an injury plagued junior season. But in 2012 Andrell caught 34 balls for 536 yards and 3 TDs. If it seemed like all he did was make big plays it is because he did. Andrell is currently in training camp with the Miami Dolphins. I loved the way he ran his routes and I loved the way he hit. He was sure-handed and the only question on much of his catches was whether or not he was in-bounds. I’m going to miss his game quite a bit. Louisville really doesn’t have another like him in 2013, and I wish he had that extra year.
Scott Radcliff is another underdog. From walk-on to trusted slot receiver the Louisville native caught 14 balls for 162 yards in 2012.
DeMarcus Topp, Aaron Nance, Stephen Goodwin were all walk-ons who have either exhausted their eligibility or have decided to not play football in the upcoming season.
Charles Gaines has moved to Cornerback.
James Quick (6-2, 171, FR) we’ve all seen the highlights. James Quick is Louisville’s highest rated recruit….EVER. Quick turned down Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, WVU, and any other football program that you want to throw in there. I’m sure the Quick family mailbox is happy to take a break from all of the mail, but James enters a receiving corps that is fully loaded. I think Quick will play early for the Cards and opened Fall Camp as the #3 Z-WR behind Jarrett Davis. James Quick adds to a crazy competitive position for the Cards, and will also get a look at some returning responsibilities. I would look for Quick’s role to expand as the season goes along in 2013.
Michaelee Harris (6-2, 202, JR) is new because we haven’t seen him in over a year. Harris needed surgery following a knee injury leading up to the 2011 Belk Bowl after leading the Cards in receiving during the 2011 season. Harris finished with 37 catches for 455 yards and 2 TDs in 2011 and was on track for the 2012 season when Michaelee suffered yet another knee injury and was forced to miss the year. Obviously when dealing with this many knee issues getting Harris in optimum shape is Priority #1 before putting him on the field again. Harris has a ton of talent and has been limited in Fall Camp……but not inactive! Personally I think it is a lot of bad luck and I really hope that Harris gets back to 100% and stays healthy for his final two seasons at UofL. Michaelee is listed #3 at the H-WR spot behind Robert Clark and Eli Rogers to open Fall Camp, I am very excited to see him play again, but I’m patient with his best interest in mind. Harris could be a HUGE impact, but the Cards have Wide Receivers that will allow them the luxury to fully rehab Michaelee. Recently Charlie Strong said that Michaelee would be available Week 1 vs. Ohio.
Robert Clark (5-9, 173, JR) transferred from Florida after 2011. Clark sat out the 2012 season and was incredibly active in practices and was eager to get involved. As a Gator Clark had 7 catches for 69 yards and 1 TD his freshman season and was able to catch two punts as a sophomore. Clark hasn’t played a significant role on a football team since the he was rated the #59 cornerback in the nation by Scout.com (3 Stars) coming out of William T. Dwyer HS after the 2009 season for the 2010 signing class. I would imagine that Clark is anxious to get into the regular rotation. Clark chose Florida in 2010 over Kentucky, Louisville, Purdue, South Florida, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. In the Spring game Robert caught two passes for 50 yards, and is listed #1 at the H-WR spot (slot).
Matt Milton (6-5, 205, JR) is nicknamed “Slim” by Coach Strong. “Slim” comes to Louisville after sitting out the 2012 season following a transfer from Tennessee. Milton red-shirted his first season as a Vol and caught just one pass in his first year of action. Milton like Robert Clark hasn’t played a significant role for a team since his final year of high school in 2009 at Mascoutah H.S. in Illinois where Milton was the #17 ranked wide receiver of the 2010 class. Milton chose Tennessee in 2010 over Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, and Wisconsin. Heading into Fall Camp Milton was the #2 X-WR behind DeVante Parker.
Richard Benjamin (6-1, 180, FR) will be a true freshman in 2013 and in my opinion he is someone coming out of high school that is cut from a different cloth. Sometimes high school film can be deceiving, but I think Benjamin could be a star on either side of the ball. If this was 2011 Richard would probably start at corner, but this is 2013 and there is experienced talent both at WR and in the secondary. I think Richard can REALLY be a high-level player for the Cards so his adjustment in the Fall to the college game will really determine how much he sees the field in 2013. I’m excited to have Richard. He chose the Cards over offers from Arkansas, Auburn,Cincinnati, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, Miami (FL), Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, NC State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Purdue, Rutgers, South Florida, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Benjamin started fall camp at Cornerback and has been moved to WR. I’m not ready to say that the move is permanent for Richard, but I do think the staff is experimenting with where he could be the most effective in a year that he may red-shirt.
Martin Williams (6-0, 176, RS SO) from Archer HS in Lawrenceville, GA, Tae-Shawn Gibbs (5-10, 175, FR) from Louisville Central, Dontez Byrd (5-11, 170, FR) from Louisville Central, Zach Taylor (6-3, 183, RS-FR) From Louisville Doss, and George Clements (6-0, 185, RS-FR) from West Johnson HS in Willow Spring, NC have all walked on to the Louisville program.
All of these receivers is a good problem to have if you are Teddy Bridgewater. The WR unit was deep last season and losing Andrell Smith & Scott Radcliff while adding Quick, Clark, Milton, and Michaelee Harris into the fold just makes things sickening. Also considering the fact that 76% of wide receiver catches, 75% of wide receiver yards, and 85% of wide receiver yards returns for 2013. The added depth & talent should allow the WRs to remain fresh putting a lot of pressure on secondaries, and this group has the best delivery man in college football so I expect the numbers to be HUGE in 2013.
2013: Damian Copeland, Jarrett Davis, Eli Rogers, DeVante Parker, Michaelee Harris, Robert Clark, Matt Milton, Kai De La Cruz, James Quick, Martin Williams, Tae-Shawn Gibbs, Dontez Byrd, Zach Taylor, George Clements
2014: Eli Rogers, DeVante Parker*, Michaelee Harris, Robert Clark, Matt Milton, James Quick, Kai De La Cruz, Martin Williams, Tae-Shawn Gibbs, Dontez Byrd, Zach Taylor, George Clements
2015: James Quick, Martin Williams, Tae-Shawn Gibbs, Dontez Byrd, Zach Taylor, George Clements
2016: James Quick, Tae-Shawn Gibbs, Dontez Byrd, Zach Taylor, George Clements
2017: Tae-Shawn Gibbs, Dontez Byrd, Zach Taylor, George Clements
Defensive Line 8/24/2013 at 8:00 a.m.