With all of that said, the Cardinals still have some holes on defense that will need to be filled, and with the limited scholarships available means the fewer numbers and greater focus the staff has on specific targets. Here is a breakdown of those we feel are of the greatest importance and need:
Jordon Hardwick, 6-5 235, DE, Kirkwood, MO (Vianney) – Hardwick has great size, skill and athleticism at the DE spot, so it is no wonder that he would be sitting with double digit offers. Hardwick recently named Ball State in his top 4 and the Cardinals have to be making Hardwick a top priority. With incumbent DE’s Nick Miles and Osa Igbinosun both either Juniors or Seniors, the need is certainly there to sign an impact DE and the playing time is for the taking for Hardwick.
J.B. Kouassi, 6-2 225, DE/OLB, Norcross, GA (Norcross) – Kouassi recently told me he has already plotted an official visit to Muncie for December, the first he has scheduled, which bodes well for the Cardinals chances with the athletic edge rusher. The Cardinals love the speedy edge guys that can play a hybrid DE/LB Rush player and Kouassi certainly fits the bill.
Corde O’Neal, 6-4 205, OLB, Summit, IL (Argo) – I can see O’Neal as a perfect WILL LB in Coach Kevin Kelly’s scheme. His size and speed make him a perfect fit to play on the edge and help in coverage on TEs and Slot receivers in the wide open MAC. O’Neal loves to play defense and with offers on both sides of the ball, that has to help Ball State’s chances. O’Neal stated earlier this week that he is still very interested in the Cardinals and still hears from the staff regularly.
Akeem Davis, 6-2 210, LB, Thomasville, NC (Thomasville) – Davis is a versatile LB prospect that can play inside, or slide out and play in coverage. The son of Coach Keith Gaither, Davis has plenty of offers and interest including a BCS level offer from Boston College. Davis has continued to grow in stature and has the frame to pack on another 20-30 lbs and be a force in the second line for any defense, hopefully he lands with the Cardinals.
Milan Lanier, 6-5 215, DE, Cincinnati (Mount Healthy) – Lanier is an under the radar guy that picked up an offer from the Cardinals in the spring, but has been quite since. Lanier is long and lean and a superb athlete. His ability to put more game film out there will certainly spark renewed interest in recruiting circles.
Justin Brandon, 6-1 270, DT, Indianapolis (Ben Davis) – Brandon is another under the radar guy who picked up an offer during the camp circuit with Ball State and it is still his only offer. Brandon is a guy that played mostly on the offensive line last season as the Giants had plenty of talent on the defensive line, but that should change this year.