Last year’s victory over Florida in the Sugar Bowl was supposed to be the key to Louisville football finally securing the crème de la crème of recruits. An entry into the ACC and a thorough dismantling of an SEC powerhouse, the 2013 class still didn’t have the impact that some fans were expecting (mainly due to number of scholarships available).
Although the Cards still finished with a very strong class including the likes of James Quick, Keith Kelsey Jr. and James Hearns, beating Florida and a future in the ACC led Card fans to believe that the impact would be instantaneous and more broad in scope.
We are still over a month away from National Signing Day and Louisville already has a class of 24, some of which plan to enroll in January. I believe that this victory over Miami is more important and will have much more of an impact on recruiting than last year’s “shock the world” victory over the Gators.
Louisville could not have made any more of a statement than they did Saturday night by completely dismantling a 9-win Miami team. The Canes could not solve anything that Cards were doing offensively or defensively. The bowl game taking place in Florida put the Cards right in the middle of their recruiting hotbed, and allowed for the Cards to be front & center for an extended period during the holiday break by recruits and potential recruits. The Cards also visited Tampa earlier this year and had several targets at that game as well. The Russell Athletic win will definitely pay dividends as the Louisville staff won’t have to travel far to speak to recruits, although the performance the Cards put on did much of that speaking already.
This was a team effort all the way with players from all over the country, Louisville proved that when it comes to players from Florida, they flat out get it done and develop players more effectively than the schools in Florida. From Teddy to Eli, Gaines, Copeland, and Pryor, just to name a few, how could recruits in South Florida not want to be a part of this program? The Cards win; deliver on the big stage, and Strong develops his players into not only outstanding football players but outstanding men and leaders in the community.
I think Jr. Safety Calvin Pryor summed it up best when speaking after the Cards victory over the Canes, “I believe Louisville, Kentucky is the new Florida.” Although this statement is short it is definitely a powerful one, and what I believe is foreshadowing for what is on the horizon for this Louisville program.
Beating Florida was an amazing feat and I am taking nothing away from the victory nor its effects on the perception of the Cards, but many outside of the city and program believe it was but a flash in the pan. Many said that Louisville could only get up for that one game, and that Louisville was acting as if that victory was what the program was, and not just an anomaly. Well I think Louisville’s second consecutive defeat of a Florida Powerhouse in the post-season has disproved those naysayers and might finally be turning heads of the critics, and make those realize that this team is for real and that they will do just fine in the ACC.
In the mean time, the Cards still have over a month to cultivate recruits in South Florida or elsewhere, and show them that beating Miami is just as fun and going there. There is an alternative to going to UM or FSU. This is something that I fully expect the Cards to finally accomplish in this class. These recruits in the 2014 class will spend their first season in the ACC, without having to go though the limbo year as the freshmen on this year’s team did. They will get to play the likes of Miami, FSU, Notre Dame, among others. Louisville can now finally sell the fact that they will be playing a tough schedule and giving players the opportunity to shine and get to the next level.
Even though Louisville has already secured the pledges of 24 players, there is still work to be done. With early enrollees and greyshirts, along with Cardinals who will leave the program early for the NFL Draft or to take the next step in life, it is not yet known just how many scholarships (of 85 total) will be available. But I do believe that this class & the classes that follow will be something truly special with the foundation laid from the previous two seasons & bowl wins. Now Head Coach Charlie Strong & Staff has to do is “Reel ‘Em In”.
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