When Charlie Strong left Louisville for Texas a predictable sour taste was left in the mouth of both fans and recruits. The situation didn’t improve soon after as Louisville pledges began de-committing, re-opened their search, or enrolled in other schools. A total of ten prospects make up the list of those who chose to look in a different direction after Strong’s departure. While some of those losses are big, particularly the loss of DT prospects Poona Ford and Chris Nelson, other’s appear to be casualties that the new staff has been able to find comparable replacements. This time they are players that fit the new system which will ensure a much higher chance of them successfully contributing to this Cardinal program in the future.
This weekend showed that the new staff knows how to close the deal as it was their most successful yet, and just in time for signing day tomorrow on Feb 5th. While there are still a few players that have some more thinking to do, or will make their decision on signing day, this weekend’s visitors brought Louisville four immediate commitments and all are big coups for the Cards. None were bigger than Offensive line commits Lukayus McNeil (6-7, 270) and Quincy Mckinney (6-4, 300). Both were of a huge position of need and join recently committed Kelby Johnson (6-8, 300) and Strong holdover Danny Burns to give the Cards a very solid four man O-line class. Mckinney and Johnson have both played in the ACC at NC State and Virginia respectively, which will pay early dividends as they should be more readily prepared for the increased competition. With the added depth I expect McNeil and Burns to both redshirt and spend a season getting stronger.
The weekend of good weather and good basketball also produced commitments from Miami DB Trumaine Washington, who chose the Cards over Syracuse, and was recruited by Terrell Buckley at Akron. The Cardinals were also successful in flipping WR/TE Charles Standberry from Ole Miss. He also held offers from Miss. St. and Boise among others. Standberry’s best asset is his height. At 6-4 he will pose as a mismatch, and if he adds some size onto his frame, he could be a very dangerous tight end. Either way he will be a major weapon for Louisville years down the line as Petrino loves utilizing the tight end position and tall WRs.
While Louisville secured four commitments this weekend they did lose Shaq Jones, who flipped to UGA after a visit there this weekend, but the Cards were also able to secure a commit from Vero Beach under the radar WR Javonte Bagley. Bagley is an unknown right now, but this staff has already shown their ability to find diamonds in the rough with Shaq Jones. Before anyone questions this commitment, don’t.
After this influx of activity Louisville’s class sets at 19, including the three commits that enrolled in January. That leaves Louisville with roughly 6-8 scholarships to play with, as current commit Desean Blair could choose a team other than the Cards come signing day as he just recently visited Missouri, and there are always NSD surprises. Louisville also will hold its breath for a signing day announcement for Isaiah Ford who will choose between Louisville and Virginia Tech. Ford was originally committed to the Cards and will play basketball wherever he decides to enroll.
The best part is the good news about this weekend’s visitors may not be over just yet, as I fully expect Louisville to land a few more kids from this group. According to 24/7 Networks Crystal Ball predictions, Sharieff Raheed(3 star LB), Cornelius Sturghill (3 star WR)/ current Wisconsin commit, and 3 star JUCO LB Isaiah Riddle are all trending toward Louisville heavily, and are expected to choose the Cards come signing day. If Louisville were able to land these players that would bring their total to 22 players, and leave a great deal of flexibility, allowing the Cards to be selective in whom they use to fill out the class.
Louisville is also heavily involved with and receiving much interest from JUCO TE and former Georgia Bulldog Ty Smith, as well as under the radar Jordan Gandy(WR), Sean Bowens (LB), Derrian Meminger (DT), and Davon Witherspoon (S) among others. Some of these players are still in the decision making process while others are waiting to hear from the staff how the scholarship situation shakes out. I also fully expect Louisville to be a player for Dalvon Stuckey a huge JUCO defensive tackle, a huge position of need for the Cards in this class. If he truly makes his visit to Louisville after signing day as planned, I like the way it looks for the Cards. Louisville could also hold a few scholarships heading into the summer in case a good player is a casualty to over signing or qualifying late like was the case for current Cards Lorenzo Mauldin and James Hearns.
Either way this class is in a much better position than it was just a few weeks ago. It is really an amazing effort that this staff has made to maintain the current class, and build onto it with their players, and guys that fit the team needs, both in position and scheme. I look forward to signing day, and I hope Cards fans are as excited about this class as I am again. I trust this staff and appreciate all that they have done to make this program better one step at a time.
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