It appears Charlie Strong's staff has already found an answer after moving junior Preston Brown into Heyman's old slot.
One of the top recruits in Strong's initial recruiting class, Brown emerged last year as a key contributor at outside linebacker, finishing with 84 tackles - second on the team - while starting in 11 of 13 games. Brown, named Big East Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 31, now appears ready to fill Heyman's spot.
"So far the results are positive," Louisville assistant Brian Jean-Mary told InsideTheVille.com about Brown's move to middle linebacker. "We're so much farther ahead of the curve than we've been our last two springs because he's a veteran guy and he's played all three of the linebacker positions.
Jean-Mary said the 6'2, 256 pound Brown has stepped up to provide valuable leadership in the middle of UofL's defense this spring.
"He has a good feel for the defense and you can see that the way he's played," Jean-Mary said. "I've been real impressed with the way he's taken the leadership role at MIKE linebacker. He's been able to finish plays and I think he's got a very bright future with the way he's doing things right now."
"He's a very talented kid," Jean-Mary said. "He provides that pass rush element at linebacker that we were missing before we inserted him into the lineup last season. He's packed on a little bit more weight. The biggest thing with him is he has to learn to be a stacked backer right now.
"We know he can pass rush, but the thing he has to get better at is becoming an all-around linebacker. But we're a better football team with him on the field. If he keeps progressing the way we think he's going to he's going to be a tough guy for people to handle next year."
Brown and Mount appear to be sure-fire starters, while senior Daniel Brown trying to fend off freshmen All-Americans Keith Brown and James Burgess. While Daniel Brown opened spring practice with the first unit, Jean-Mary is excited about Keith Brown and Burgess, two highly-ranked recruits who enrolled at Louisville early in January.
"The thing I told those kids is are they going to be 100 percent assignment-wise? Probably not because this is brand new to them," Jean-Mary explained. "I told them to run around, have fun and play their game."
Both one-time Miami commits, Louisville was able to convince both the 6'1, 230 pound Brown and Burgess, 6'0, 212, their best opportunity to make an early impact was with the Cardinals. Jean-Mary was pleased with both players after Louisville's enthusiastic practice last Saturday.
"We recruited them for a reason because they could run and hit," said Jean-Mary. "We just want them to go out there and show it. We know they're going to make mistakes, but just run around and make plays. That's why they're here. I think for the most part they did that (during practice Saturday). They did play aggressive."
Brown, who dons Louisville's coveted No. 1 jersey, has adjusted well since arriving at UofL from Miami Norland. Jean-Mary said his maturity and dedication have allowed him to flourish on and off the field at Louisville.
"The thing that you notice about him is his maturity," Brown said. "He's very diligent in the way he does things. He's always going to ask the right question and wants to know everyday what he can do to get better. That's why he was successful in high school and that's carried over. It's been a seamless transition. His maturity level is going to help him be successful in his first year here."