It’s been just over a year since I first made contact with a new Louisville Football commit by the name of Reggie Bonnafon.
I remember it vividly though. He was itching to prove something.
It was his first year as the man at Quarterback for Trinity High School. The skeptics were plentiful. He had never started at Quarterback in a High School game. He had only started at Wide Receiver for the Rocks the year before. Was he a true Quarterback or just an athlete? How would he react with all eyes on him?
He was itching to prove the doubters wrong. He did just that putting up sparkling numbers: 2,632 passing yards, 895 rushing yards and accounting for 31 touchdowns for the Rocks his senior season.
During that time he told me something very simple, but maybe it was the way he said it that stuck with me.
“I want to come out and play my game,” He said. “I want to show people I can play QB.”
It’s a simple statement, I’ve heard many athletes say it before. It was the infliction in his voice at that very moment that stuck with me. He wasn’t going to be denied, that’s why I’m hardly surprised that we’ve made it to this point (though I expected different circumstances).
Still young but perhaps ready, its Reggie Bonnafon’s turn – at least for one game. It’s not the best of situations, Bonnafon gets the start in place of an injured Will Gardner. The whole ‘next man up’ philosophy is certainly present here. While for the moment this is a ‘spot start’ in place of the injured Will Gardner. There is a growing feeling that this may be Reggie Bonnafon’s ‘team’ if he plays well.
Current Louisville wide receiver and former high school teammate of Reggie Bonnafon elicited his confidence in Bonnafon earlier this week.
“I believe he can step in and do what he needs to do,” Quick noted. “He’s been working hard all summer, so I feel like he come in and contribute at a high level. Since the beginning of camp, he’s gotten a lot better with his checks and reads.”
This is what the people wanted to see. They didn’t want an injury to force it but they wanted to see more from Bonnafon. They want his coolness in the pocket. His collected, calm demeanor which has been a world away from the Will Gardner seen at different points in 2014.
Bonnafon will be the fourth freshmen to make a starting QB appearance this seasson in the ACC. He’s in good company, too. He’ll be joining the phenomenon from Clemson in Deshaun Watson, who will make his first start this weekend as well, along with Brad Kaaya from Miami, who has experienced some vast high and lows already this season.
It’s been ten days since the death of his father. It’s almost unfair for him to be placed in this position. It’s highly unpredictable how Bonnafon would react, but one would think it would be one of the extremes. Just three days after the passing of his father, Bonnafon posted the pointed Instagram message that read ‘Going 10 x harder for you Dad’. I’m sure his Father couldn’t be more excited for what is about to occur.
It’s difficult to find much fault in Reggie. It’s difficult to not cheer for him. He’s overcome the adversity of everyone thinking he wasn’t what he has been, to being recruited by Tennessee, Ohio State, and Louisville. Now he’s overcame that to making a collegiate start at the Quarterback position. It’s special.
“Since the day he got here, he’s been very mature, a quick learner, very competitive,” Bobby Petrino explained. “Every time we’ve put him into the game, he’s executed well. He has a little bit of different flavor, with the fact that he’s very athletic and he can run. It’ll be interesting to see how it all goes.”
I don’t know what this means for the future of Louisville Football this season. And yes I know that Reggie Bonnafon hasn’t proved much. He threw for two touchdowns against Murray State in garbage time and (like the first of his teammates) did little against Virginia. I don’t know what Reggie Bonnafon is going to be but I know what I think he’s going to be – special. I’ve felt that way since we first spoke and he’ll have to have a more than a couple of terrible moments to change that.
Whether Reggie Bonnafon comes out and dominates retaining the starting position, or comes out struggling; giving it back to Will Gardner, once healthy, is unknown. I do know that Louisville is looking for somebody to grab that position firmly, Gardner has failed to do that with multiple chances. Now the story will be simple: Can Bonnafon capitalize on perhaps his only one?
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