While recruiting will be in flux for the next few months, the 2014 class is starting to take shape before our eyes. As it does, I know I am not alone in my concern for what is missing, because it is big, roughly 6’4″, 300+lbs. big. This void is Louisville’s need for quality interior linemen, and while I am sure Charlie and staff will do everything that they can to fill this void that will be left by SR defensive tackles Brandon Dunn and Roy Philon, it is still very much an issue.

Although the Cardinals are stocking up on edge rushers in this class with the likes of Henry Famurewa, Rashawn Shaw, and Terry Ramsey, their lack of interior line commits bring back memories of prospects lost, dating back to Strong’s first class at Louisville.

In this class, Strong and company were able to set up a pipeline to Miami Northwestern H.S. by securing commitments from Michaelee Harris, Corvin Lamb, and at the time Torrian Wilson, who would later flip to Central Florida on NSD. Also a part of that talented MNW group was defensive tackle Todd Chandler, who many believed would join his teammates in choosing Louisville, but he opted to stay closer to home and signed with Big East/American Conference rival South Florida. Yet another player who slipped away in the 2010 class was Hargrave Military Academy DT De’Antre Rhodes. While Rhodes was a late pick up post signing day for the Cards, he failed to qualify academically and left the Cards with only one true interior lineman in the class (Brandon Dunn would later be moved from DE to DT).

In the 2011 class Louisville found themselves in yet another battle with rival South Florida to secure Elkino Watson of Booker T. Washington in Miami, a place Cardinal fans are very familiar with when it comes to recruits. But yet again, the Bulls beat out the Cards as Watson decided not to leave the state of Florida for college. Louisville’s only DT in that class was Jamon Brown, who as we all know has since moved to the Offensive line. I think that O-line is the better fit for Brown and he has a bright future as a Cardinal and possibly the NFL, but this was yet another class where Louisville was unable to add bulk in the middle.

It feels like I am beating a dead horse here, but the 2012 class saw more commits, and de-commits for the Cards than the previous two classes. Tyrone Pearson committed to the Cardinals, then transferred high schools, and never ended up with the Cardinals.   Then Louisville secured a commitment from  Teko Powell, a teammate of Keith Brown at Norland, only for him to de-commit late in the process.  The Cards also saw recruiting rival and future ACC foe Miami snatch Dequan Ivery right before signing day. This was the biggest blow of all as Ivery seemed to be a very talented prospect with a great deal of potential. Ivery recently left the UM program.

Not all was bad in the 2012 class though as the Cards were able to land DeAngelo Brown, Pedro Sibiea, and Sheldon Rankins. Brown had the biggest impact in 2012 and showed promise and a real disruptive presence inside. Rankins was hurt throughout much of the season and saw minimal action as a result, although he did register a sack against Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Sibiea redshirted last season but looks to make an impact in 2013 appearing on the two-deep in the first depth chart of fall. With DeAngelo Brown recently suffering an achilles injury both Rankins and Sibiea have a chance to prove in fall camp that they can be solid contributors for the interior line this upcoming season.

2013’s class saw Louisville once again lose a commitment to the University of South Florida when Derrick Calloway flipped from the Cards to the Bulls shortly before signing day. I’m not sure what it is, but USF seems to be a real thorn in the side of Strong & Co., every year they seem to steal one or two from the Cards.  Now with Willie Taggart now at the helm, Louisville will have to continue to fend off USF for years to come. Although the move to the ACC likely means Louisville will be battling the likes of Florida State & Miami more often than not for recruits  (particularly the D-line) instead of old foe USF. As a whole though, I was very pleased with what the Cards did in terms of adding bulk to the interior line by adding Kyle Shortridge and De’Asian Richardson, who are both very talented and are the caliber D-line recruits.  These two are players  that are expected to make an early impact, challenging the upperclassmen for playing time, and possibly starting in Louisville’s inaugural ACC season in 2014.

With all of that being said, it is understandable to be concerned who Louisville signs for the 2014 class in terms of interior linemen for several reasons: they have struggled in the past securing or holding onto prospects, the level of competition will increase in the ACC requiring both quality and depth, and lastly the loss of both Dunn and Philon.

Although any number of new prospects could come out of left field, or de-commit from another school and appear on Louisville’s recruiting big board.  There seems to be a small group of defensive tackle prospects the Cards are focusing on. This group includes Daniel Cage (OH), Matthew Elam (KY), Poona Ford (FL), Chris Nelson (FL), and recent Miami commit Travonte Valentine (FL), who was previously committed to Louisville, and then Florida before choosing the Canes. I include Valentine on this list because who knows where this kid will end up, after all the committing and de-committing, but with his talent and size, no one associated with Louisville would be upset if he flipped for the Cardinals come signing day. Looking at this group Louisville has the least chance with is Matthew Elam who appears to favor UK and Alabama, but he is another prospect who is wide open and could attend any school on his list.  That leaves Cage, Ford, and Nelson. Louisville is in need of two DTs in this class so any combination from this three would please both staff and fans. They are all talented and possess the size the Cardinals will need as they transition into the ACC.

With Louisville’s increased presence in Ohio in the 2014 class, pulling a player like Daniel Cage is something that could very easily happen, although they will face fierce competition from SEC, ACC, and BIG 10 schools. Ford and Nelson both being from Florida means that they will receive serious attention from Louisville’s staff, and the interest is mutual between the Cards and these two.
I am not big on predictions, especially this early in the recruiting process, but  I will say that I think that Louisville comes away with at least one name on this list, if not two. The other as I said could come out of left field, but either way defensive tackle is a major need in this class and I am confident that this staff will bring in the best prospects necessary to fill the void as they have done many times before. Like all of you, I cannot wait to see who the Cards bring in.

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Matt Vories

I am a recent graduate of The University of Louisville. This spring I interned with which allowed me the opportunity to write, report, and shoot photo and video at Louisville games. I also worked with the Red & Blue Review television show. I look forward to sharing my passion for all things UofL as a part of TCZ.

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