Freshmen WR's making strong impression

Louisville's receiving corps is expected to be a team strength and three talented freshmen are a major reason why. UofL wide receiver coach Ron Dugans told why he's excited about DeVante Parker, Michaelee Harris and Eli Rogers.

Louisville's receiving corps, led by senior Josh Bellamy and junior Andrell Smith, is expected to be a team strength and three talented freshmen are a major reason why.

DeVante Parker, a former four-star prospect from Ballard HS; Eli Rogers, an Under Armour All-American from Miami; and Michaelee Harris, a four-star prospect who raised eyebrows in fall camp a year ago before an ACL injury ended his season before it started, are expected to make an immediate impact for the Cardinals this season.

"Those guys are coming out and working hard to get better," Louisville wide receiver coach Ron Dugans said. "The thing I like about those guys – Eli Rogers, DeVante Parker, Michaelee Harris – is they're competing. They want to be on the football field and they want to get better."

Louisville's three rookie receivers have impressed Dugans, a former NFL receiver, during camp.

"I'm seeing some really good things out of those guys," Dugans said. "Now we've just got to work on consistency. That's the deal we're working on right now."

Eli Rogers
Parker, 6'4, 200-pounds, has the size, speed and skills to be a difference-maker right away. Though his talent was evident as a senior at Ballard, where he led the state of Kentucky with 1,800 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns, Dugans has been most impressed with Parker's willingness to accept coaching.

"The thing I love about that kid is he's very coachable," Dugans said. "He takes when I get on him and it really means something to him. He knows why I coach him hard."

Parker promises to add a new dimension to Louisville's offense – an athletic target that can use his size to make plays downfield over smaller defensive backs.

"What he brings to the table is when the ball is in the air he can go and get it," said Dugans. "Now, he's working on getting down the field before the ball gets there. That's what we've got to work on with him. But he's been working hard. He's a kid that has raw talent and he's going to be a very good receiver."

Dugans believes Parker has made progress throughout camp.

"The biggest thing I've been stressing to him is playing fast," Dugans said. "He's been used to high school football…run about five yards, look up and the fade (pass) is on you. Here, you've got to run down the football field and lock the defender. It's starting to get in his head about what he has to do to get down the field. He's starting to understand the game and know that he's got to play fast."

Harris, 6'2, 200, sustained injuries to both knees during his first year on campus – one that forced a redshirt, the other held him out of spring practice. Now, the former Miami Northwestern standout is rounding back into form, though he had been slowed during camp with a minor hand injury.

"He's getting there," Dugans said. "Right now as we speak I don't think he's there. But he's a smart kid and he wants to be on the football field."

Harris, one of Charlie Strong's first recruits at Louisville, provides versatility to the Cardinals offense.

Michaelee Harris
"He knows different positions and that's the good thing about him. We can move him around," Dugans said. "He's a kid when we get the ball in his hands he knows what to do with it. Now he's got to understand mentally there's nothing wrong with his knee, the brace is off and he can go full speed."

Rogers, 5'10, 185, is the smallest member of the trio, but his talent is on par with both Parker and Harris. Multiple team sources raved about Rogers' performance in Louisville scrimmage last weekend.

"He's going to be a really good player," said Dugans. "He's like DeVante Parker, a natural receiver. He made some really big plays Saturday in the scrimmage. He's got really good hands and he's a route runner. He knows what to do when the ball is in his hands after the catch."

Though only a freshman, Rogers has impressed his position coach with his quick-learning ability.

"The deal with Eli is you tell him one time and he tries to the right thing right then and there…you don't have to tell him again," Dugans said. "He's just got to stay mentally disciplined and finish. He's really paid attention in meetings and knows what's going on."

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