Strong, recently named the best coach in the Big East by ESPN, proved last week why he received that distinction by landing four verbal commitments in a four-day span.
Will Gardner, a three-star quarterback from Georgia, began Louisville's July commitment binge. Rated the No. 33 quarterback prospect in the nation, the 6-5, 215-pound Gardner was the top quarterback on Louisville's recruiting board. Though he had offers and was receiving strong interest from SEC programs, Gardner felt comfortable enough with Strong, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford and quarterback coach Shawn Watson to give Louisville his commitment.
Devontre Parnell, one of Louisville's top defensive targets, chose Louisville over rival Kentucky the day after Gardner's announcement. Rated one of the Top 10 prospects in South Carolina, the speedy playmaker is the third cornerback, a position of need for Strong's program, in Louisville's 2012 recruiting class.
DeAndre Herron, an athletic 6-6, 310-pound offensive tackle from Avon, Indiana, committed to Louisville the day after Parnell, while three-star Bowling Green, Ky., offensive guard Joe Manley, the top lineman in the commonwealth, chose Louisville over Kentucky the same day, though he didn't publicly announce his decision until Saturday.
One of Louisville's top recruiting goals in 2012 was to load up on offensive line recruits after losing four starters from last year's Beef O'Brady championship team. With Herron, a three-star prospect, and the 6-6, 315-pound Manley in the fold, the Cardinals now have commitments from four offensive linemen. Sid Anvoots, a three-star recruit from Indianapolis, and T.C. Klusman, a promising lineman from Cincinnati, round out Louisville's line class -- for the moment.
With the additions of Gardner, Parnell, Herron and Manley, Louisville now has twelve commitments in 2012. Seven of Louisville's 12 commitments are rated three-star prospects by Scout.com, with Gardner the Cardinals highest-rated prospect.
While Florida recruits provided the strength for Louisville's Top 25 2011 recruiting class, Strong's staff has successfully branched out this year. The Cardinals now have commitments from seven different states – Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama and Florida. Only two of Louisville's current 12 commits hail from Florida, proving Strong's appeal is not limited to the Sunshine State.
Now, Strong and his staff will focus their attention on rounding out another solid recruiting haul. After signing the best recruiting class in the Big East last year, Strong has Louisville positioned to repeat that feat again in 2012.