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2013 Secondary Review

Louisville Secondary had a fantastic season with three 1st Team All-Conference selections in the defensive backfield with Calvin Pryor, Hakeem Smith, and Charles Gaines receiving the honor from the American Athletic Conference with Pryor receiving All-American honors.  Calvin was a 1st Round Selection by the New York Jets and Hakeem Smith was picked up in free agency by the Tennessee Titans.

Pryor was an enforcer on the back end of the Louisville secondary and registered 75 tackles, 3 INTs, 5.5 TFLs, and forced 2 fumbles.  Hakeem had 45 tackles and 3 INTs to go along with Charles Gaines’ 22 tackles, 5 INTs, 12 passes defended, and a blocked punt returned for a Touchdown.  Terrell Floyd was also instrumental in Louisville’s success who tallied 47 tackles and 4 INTs in 2013 as the Cardinals boundary corner.

2014 Secondary Preview Coaches & Roster

Terrell Buckley will handles the cornerback group and Greg Brown will be responsible for the safeties in Todd Grantham’s Defense.  Buckley comes to Louisville after two years with the Toledo Rockets.  Coach Buckley spent 14-years in the NFL and the former Florida State Seminole was on the 2002 Super Bowl Championship Patriots team.  Coach Brown has coached in the NFL and most recently at Alabama and Colorado.  Together Buckley and Brown have a wealth of playing and coaching experience and both have different challenges heading into the 2014 season.

At corner, Buckley has one of the best in the country in Charles Gaines (5-11, 190 RS-Jr.) who was 1st Team ALL-AAC in 2013.  Gaines was mostly avoided by opponents in the passing game last season as a result of a combination of his skill and a lack of good Quarterback play in the American Athletic Conference.  It will be interesting to see how many offenses in the ACC will challenge Gaines’ side.  The more offenses test Charles Gaines, the more plays he is going to make and will likely build on his 5 Interceptions from a year ago. Gaines has superior speed and is a natural cover corner but does need to be more physical in terms of being a willing tackler.  Fans should expect and outstanding season from Gaines and an early entry into the 2015 NFL Draft.

Opposite of Gaines used to be Terell Floyd (5-10, 202, Sr.), but the Cards have moved T Floyd to Free Safety & Nickel for the 2014 season.  Floyd will be the Nickel but will be (as used in the most recent scrimmage) as the #1 Free Safety as well.  Floyd is best remembered for his Pick 6 in the 2013 Sugar Bowl that began the  beat down of Florida in New Orleans. Terell has made a LARGE impact on the Louisville Football program over the past 2 seasons, coming a long way from the freshman Corner who really didn’t have the strength to make tackles on larger wide receivers.  Starting with Spring Ball in his sophomore season Floyd dedicated his game to being more physical and he’s forced fumbles, broken up passes, made interceptions, and just overall has had a huge impact on the program.  Floyd is gifted and can easily slide back to the cornerback position in case of disaster, but UofL has developing talent at Corner, but the program needed answers at Safety.

With the Floyd move, the Cards needed a corner opposite of Charles Gaines.  That job is still a competition, but right now it appears that Mr. President Andrew Johnson (5-9, 183, Sr.) is winning the job. Andrew Johnson is known for ‘blowing kisses’ at the WVU crowd following a punt return for a TD and his game-winning pass break-up during the 2012 season versus North Carolina.  Johnson has made numerous plays throughout his career, including an INT in the Sugar Bowl.  Johnson’s strength is his ability to tackle and help in the run game.  Andrew can certainly cover and is a physical cornerback.  It is for that reason that I’ll be watching to see if Louisville actually uses a RCB & LCB alignment or if they play their corners Field/Boundary (Gaines/Johnson) to take advantage of both player’s strengths.

Pushing Johnson for the starting job opposite of Gaines is Devontre Parnell (5-11, 179, RS-Soph.) who has mixed in and sometimes started with the #1 Defense. Parnell has length, speed and is someone I really liked coming out of high school in the class of 2012 from Fairfield Central in Winnsboro, SC. It’s clear in Fall Camp that if Parnell doesn’t start, he is definitely going to play a great deal in the Louisville secondary.  He has great hips and awareness for the ball.  Devontre chose the Cards over Illinois, Kentucky, NC State, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest.

Starting at the Strong Safety Position is former U.S. Army All-American and Washington Husky James Sample (6-2, 191, Jr.) out of Grant Union H.S. in Sacramento, CA.  Sample was a 4-star recruit out of high school and had offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Utah, and Washington State before choosing the Huskies.  James saw action in 5 games in two seasons while with Washington and transferred to American River C.C. last season where he used his redshirt.   Despite a late arrival to Louisville’s campus, James was able to quickly make up ground and crack the starting group of Todd Grantham’s defense.  Sample has size and moves instinctively at the Safety position.  Filling in for Calvin Pryor is a tall order but Sample has plenty of talent to play the position.

Another U.S. Army All-American Gerod Holliman (6-0, 206, RS-Soph) has waited his turn behind both Calvin Pryor & Hakeem Smith for the past 3 seasons.  It’s Holliman’s turn to make an impact.  Louisville’s normal defensive package is likely the Nickel package, and when the Cards are in Nickel Holliman is the Free Safety with Floyd sliding over to Nickel.  Gerod “Hot Rod” started 2 games last season for the Cards and Louisville over Kansas State, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Jarrod Barnes (5-11, RS-Soph.) won the #1 Strong Safety job during the Spring.  As a walk-on Barnes has really impressed and played a role on Louisville’s special teams last season.  In an emergency, Barnes is likely the guy at Strong Safety.  It’s always nice to have reliable walk-ons who can contribute to the program…..but it can also be a scary proposition as well.  The jury may be out on Barnes when it comes to Live Action, but the young safety looked more than adequate in the Spring Game.

Kevin Houchins (5-11, 194, RS-Soph.) will certainly see some action at cornerback and special teams for the Cardinals.  Houchins will provide depth and is very capable of playing an expanded role if needed.

Richard Benjamin (6-0, 210, RS-Fr.)  is a much acclaimed Free Safety with offers from the “Who’s Who” of college football.  Benjamin has switched back and forth between wide receiver and the secondary and back and forth between corner and safety as well.  Now it seems like Richard has found a spot at Safety and staying at that position should really help stabilize him and find his way onto the football field.  Chucky Williams (6-2, 198, RS-Fr.) also chose Louisville over offers from all of college football and is primed to find the field either at Strong Safety by challenging Jarrod Barnes or in special teams.  Terrence Ross (6-1, 202, RS-Fr.) was going to factor last season on special teams before an injury forced his red-shirt.  Ross missed the Spring while rehabbing, but can now get back on track into fulfilling his big-time talent.  These 3 Red-Shirt Freshman are all extremely talented prospects at the Safety position.  The Cards need just ONE to really step up in 2014 to provide depth (I’m betting Chucky) but the future of the safety position is certainly bright.

True Freshman Corners Zykiesis Cannon (6-0, 183, Fr.), De’Eric Culver (6-0, 180, Fr.), Trumaine Washington (5-10, 180, Fr.) are all highly regarded prospects as well and each had their moments during Fall Camp thus far.  Trumaine Washington made more plays during the public sessions of this group, but I saw things from each to give reason to Card Nation to get excited about all 3 of these players.  It’s possible that one or two of this group will see action, but a red-shirt year never hurt anyone…..with these 3 the future at Corner looks very good!

Walk-ons George Clements (6-0, 182, RS-Sr.), Brandon Joseph (5-8, 176, RS-Sr.), Carl Williams (6-0, 205, Jr.), Justin Gilmore (5-11, 181, Fr.) also get work in practice.  Clements is one of the fast players on the roster.

Ineligble or Injured 

Jermaine Reve (6-0, 200, RS-Jr.) is unfortunately out until about mid/late October with an injury.  Reve has made a lot of plays for Louisville the past few seasons and would have absolutely competed for a starting role in the secondary.  Reve has played both corner and safety and his experience would have been HUGE this season.  As it is, Reve may be available at some point this Fall but Louisville has to move forward with the assumption that Reve will not be healthy for the season.

Shaq Wiggins (5-10, 165, Soph) and Josh Harvey-Clemons (6-5, 212, Jr.) both transferred from Georgia to play with Todd Grantham and his 3-4 defense.  Both players started for Georgia during 2013 and will be eligible for the 2015 season at Louisville.

My Projected Depth Chart

Base

LCB
1) Andrew Johnson OR
2) Devontre Parnell

RCB
1) Charles Gaines
2) Kevin Houchins OR
3) Zykesis Cannon

Strong Safety
1) James Sample
2) Jarrod Barnes

Free Safety
1) Terell Floyd
2) Gerod Holliman

Nickel

LCB
1) Andrew Johnson OR
2) Devontre Parnell

RCB
1) Charles Gaines
2) Kevin Houchins OR
3) Zykesis Cannon

Nickel
1) Terell Floyd
2) Chucky Williams  OR
3) Richard Benjamin

Strong Safety
1) James Sample
2) Jarrod Barnes

Free Safety
1) Gerod Holliman
2) Chucky Williams OR
3) Richard Benjamin

2015 NFL Draft Possibles: Charles Gaines (expected early entry), Terell Floyd; Needs a Big Year: Andrew Johnson

2015 Roster Expected Available:  Jermaine Reve, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaq Wiggins, Devontre Parnell, James Sample, Gerod Holliman, Jarrod Barnes, Kevin Houchins, Richard Benjamin, Chucky Williams, Terrence Ross, Zykesis Cannon, De’Eric Culver, Trumaine Washington

2016 Roster Expected Available: Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaq Wiggins, Devontre Parnell, Gerod Holliman, Jarrod Barnes, Kevin Houchins, Richard Benjamin, Chucky Williams, Terrence Ross, Zykesis Cannon, De’Eric Culver, Trumaine Washington

2017 Roster Expected Available: Richard Benjamin, Chucky Williams, Terrence Ross, Zykesis Cannon, De’Eric Culver, Trumaine Washington, Shaq Wiggins

2018 Roster Expected Available: Zykesis Cannon, De’Eric Culver, Trumaine Washington  (if redshirt is used)

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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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