Previous Position Previews
2013 Wide Receiver Review
The 2013 Wide Receivers had an outstanding run with Louisville Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and were led in receptions by Damian Copeland who was taken in Free Agency following the 2014 Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Copeland hauled in 58 catches for 780 yards and 5 Touchdowns including one especially thrilling score versus Cincinnati. DeVante Paker missed the Rutgers game with a shoulder injury suffered during Temple, but still managed to catch 55 balls for 885 yards (10th in a single season in UofL history) and 12 Touchdowns (1st in school history in a single season). In all, Louisville Wide Receivers accounted for 219 catches (70.4%) & 2965 yards (72.6%) of Louisville’s receiving in 2013. Wide Receivers Coach Ron Dugans moved on to South Florida after the coaching change, and Robert Clark transferred to Samford for his senior season.
2014 Wide Receiver Preview Coaches & Roster
Before we get into the details, I really encourage you to watch DeVante “Peter” Parker: SPIDERMAN
DeVante “Peter” Parker: SPIDERMAN from Mark Blankenbaker on Vimeo.
So having watched that of course I’m going to get started with DeVante Parker (6’3, 208 Sr.). DeVante from Louisville Ballard H.S. has a chance to leave Louisville as one of the most decorated wide receivers in school history and should be a VERY high draft selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. With a season to play DeVante sits with 113 receptions, 1920 yards (10th All-Time), and 28 Touchdowns (3rd All-Time, 5 away from tying Ibn Green at #1). Parker is electrifying in space, and is almost unstoppable with the ball in the air. DeVante chose to return to college for his senior year in an attempt to boost his draft stock. Soft-spoken & shy off the field, DeVante Parker’s on & off the field persona is a perfect corollary to Peter Parker & Spiderman, the nickname he has earned. Like Spiderman in the comics, DeVante Parker does things on the football field that are unbelievable in an aerial display. DeVante Parker is a rare commodity for a football team, and it will be sometime before we see the likes of anyone comparable to him again. To start Fall Camp, defensive backs making Parker catch difficult passes was considered a victory. There aren’t but maybe 3 defensive backs in the entire country who can hope to cover him. DeVante will have a huge season and should be All-American.
James Quick (6-1, 185, Soph.) is another local product who is ultra-talented. The Former U.S. Army All-American is believed to be the highest rated player to ever sign with the Cards out of High School. Quick struggled with confidence in his freshman season but showed signs of development late in 2013. More than anything, James and the coaches needed his hands to be more reliable. Quick runs sharp routes and has elite level speed, but finishing the play (catching the football) was a big problem for Quick in practice and the staff had plenty of options at the receiver position. This year, it is time for Quick to put that behind him and to become the elite receiver everyone believes him to be. James caught 6 passes for 73 yards and recovered a fumbled punt for a TD against UCF. James chose Louisville over Ohio State, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Oregon, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
In the slot, Eli Rogers (5-10, 180, Sr.) will play his first season in 10 without Teddy Bridgewater as a teammate. But Rogers can be an elite slot receiver for the Cards because of his sure hands, superior lateral quickness, knowledge of his assignments, and the fact that he is just absolutely clutch. Eli was as much of a part of Teddy Bridgewater’s ascension to “GUMP” status as anyone. Eli currently is 4 catches (131) outside of the Top 10 All-Time in Louisville History and needs 325 to get into the Top 10. To start Fall Camp, Eli is right where fans & coaches expect him to be……all of the time. He’s Mr. Reliable and he’s made a lot of plays for the Cards over the past 3 seasons, I definitely expect much more this season in Petrino’s offense with the running game, Gerald Christian, and receivers like DeVante Parker & James Quick getting a lot of attention there should be a lot of opportunity for Eli to have a nice year. Alas, there is only one football.
Tough luck wide receiver Michaelee Harris (6-2, 196, RS-Sr.) returns for his senior season with the Louisville Cardinals. Harris has suffered several knee injuries that have limited his production and availabilty. Harris was expected to play in 2010 before a knee injury, then in 2011 led the Cards in receiving during the regular season (37 catches for 455 yards) before injuring his knee again prior to the Belk Bowl. Nearly fully recovered Michaelee tore his ACL in 2012 Fall Camp, missing the season. Back and healthy in 2013, Harris was tied for 8th in receptions for 195 yards and 2 TDs. For his senior season, Louisville fans are hoping for JUSTICE for one of the early adopters of the Louisville football rebuild (Corvin Lamb was Strong’s 1st commit) as Michaelee was Charlie Strong’s 2nd commitment and a big part of the Louisville to Miami movement to has made such a big impact on the Cardinal football program. Michaelee can play the slot and he can also play outside. I don’t expect him to play one position in 2014 and I definitely expect him to have a bigger role than last season.
While the injury bug didn’t hit Michaelee in 2013, it hit Kai De La Cruz (6-0, 187, RS-Sr) HARD. De La Cruz started out of the gate in the Ohio game with 4 catches for 116 yards and 2 TDs and finished the season with just 15 receptions for 271 yards and 3 TDs. Kai has a lot of ability and will definitely put pressure on secondaries with his ability to both stretch and cross the field. Fans should be excited to see what a healthy Kai De La Cruz can do over the course of a season.
Matt Milton (6-5, 202, RS-Sr.) the former Tennessee transfer appeared in 4 games in 2013 catching just 1 pass for 6 yards. Out of high school Matt was considered the 17th best wide receiver in the country according to Scout.com and was a 4-star recruit by every scout service. Milton had offers from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Stanford, and Washington before choosing the Vols and sat out the 2012 season after transferring to Louisville. Nicknamed “Slim”, Matt seems to be a favorite of Bobby Petrino and runs with the #1 unit equally as much as James Quick. Like Quick, Matt needs to consistently catch the football as he is fantastic at route running and getting open. At 6’5, he definitely is a target for Defensive backs to deal with. He’ll catch more than 1 ball in 2014.
It’s hard to believe, but everyone above this line (with the exception of James Quick) is a senior with a lot of high-level college football experience. This team does not have a junior receiver, and Robert Clark left the team leaving the team with 5 senior wideouts instead of 6. So needless to say, this is a veteran unit. It is unlikely that any newcomer will come in and see the field right away in 2014, but there is A GREAT DEAL OF OPPORTUNITY for the 2015 season making this an ideal situation for young WRs to come in behind a veteran group and acclimate to the college game.
Cameron Polk (6-2, 187, Fr.) enrolled early in January having graduated from Hamilton Southeastern in Fisher, IN (Indy) early and participated in Spring Drills. Polk has great size and has had a lot of opportunity to showcase his ability in Fall Camp. He does need to be more consistent catching the ball and learning the offense but there is a lot of upside here. Polk is certainly in the right place to grow his game. Cameron chose the Cards over Indiana and was a 3-star recruit by all 3 major scouting services.
Javonte Bagley (6-3, 180, Fr.) could be a next level WR for the Cardinals in the future. Bagley looks the part on the football field, has great mechanics, good hands, runs smoothly. Bobby Petrino singled Javonte out at ACC Kickoff as someone he was impressed with. Bagley committed very late in the process leading up to signing day and did so without a lot of hype as a 2-star recruit by all 3 services and chose the Cards over Kentucky, Wake Forest, and others. The Vero Beach, FL native didnt’ get a lot of love from the scouting services, but is from his coach…….so who is right? We’ll have several years to be the judge of that, but right now Javonte is on the right track to make an impact for this program. We may just have to wait a season to see it.
From Glendale, Arizona Gio Pascascio (6-3, 185, Soph) didn’t commit to the Cards until well after signing day in late May 2014 from Glendale CC. The Juco will likely use his redshirt season and have 3 years to play for UofL starting in 2015. So far, Gio can get open but like most of the newcomers has an adjustment to make. Pascascio chose the Cardinals over Wisconsin.
Cornelius Sturghill (5-11, 180, Fr.) could be the future of the slot position for the Cards. The unanimous 3-star prospect from Memphis Melrose H.S. had offers from Wisconsin, UCLA, Mississippi St, Purdue, and Vanderbilt before selecting UofL. Learning from players like Eli Rogers should be a gold mine for Sturghill as both players possess similar skill sets in space with their lateral quickness.
Walk-Ons Dontez Byrd (5-11, 170, RS-Fr.) from Ballard, Tae’Shawn Gibbs (5-10, 181, RS-Fr.) from Central, Chris Miele (6-2, 182, RS-Fr.) from Manual, and Cody Swabeck (6-1, 175, Fr.) from Trinity all are quality walk-ons. Dontez Byrd really has stood out to me at this out of this group and it’s never easy to guess which player could emerge as a major contributor that begins their career as a walk-on. It’s certainly happened at Louisville more than once.
Ineligible this season due to Transfer Rules is Ja’Quay Williams (6-3, 214, Soph) who transferred from Texas A&M after his Freshman season.
My Projected Depth Chart
1) DeVante Parker
2) Kai De La Cruz
1) Eli Rogers
2) Michaelee Harris
1) James Quick
2) Matt Milton
2015 NFL Draft Possibles: DeVante Parker, Eli Rogers
Need Big Year for 2015 NFL Draft: Michaelee Harris, Kai De La Cruz, Matt Milton
2015 Roster Expected Available: James Quick, Ja’Quay Williams, Gio Pascascio, Dontez Byrd, Tae’Shawn Gibbs, Chris Miele, Cameron Polk, Javonte Bagley, Cornelius Sturghill, Cody Swabeck
2016 Roster Expected Available: James Quick, Ja’Quay Williams, Gio Pascascio, Dontez Byrd, Tae’Shawn Gibbs, Chris Miele, Cameron Polk, Javonte Bagley, Cornelius Sturghill, Cody Swabeck
2017 Roster Expected Available: Gio Pascascio, Dontez Byrd, Tae’Shawn Gibbs, Chris Miele, Cameron Polk, Javonte Bagley, Cornelius Sturghill, Cody Swabeck
2018 Roster Expected Available: Cameron Polk, Javonte Bagley, Cornelius Sturghill, Cody Swabeck