Two freshmen LBers improving for Cards

University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong noted last week that his staff hasn't had to use a lot of young players this season because the Cardinals have much better depth on the roster than the two previous seasons. But two true freshmen that have played are showing major improvement.

Three University of Louisville true freshmen linebackers came into the program with high rankings and lofty expectations.

Freshman Nick Dawson still hasn't seen action in a game and will likely be redshirted, but Keith Brown and James Burgess Jr., have already played key roles and are making drastic improvements.

"They're both getting better and better," linebacker coach Brian Jean-Mary said. "They're still freshmen and a different offense blows their mind every week. But they're very receptive kids and getting better."

Burgess, who Strong said on Monday, is injured and questionable for Saturday's game against Pittsburgh, started against Southern Miss in place of injured Daniel Brown. He has nine tackles this season, including four against Kentucky.

The 6-foot, 213-pound standout from Homestead, Fla., has a tackle in four of the first five games of the season for the Cardinals.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Brown is drawing rave reviews from the coaches and his fellow teammates. He was injured on The Opening kickoff against Kentucky or would have played more earlier in the season.

Brown made his return against Florida International and had two tackles before leading U of L with nine tackles against Southern Miss.

"He's still a freshman but he's running around and making a lot of plays," defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said. "He's a very good athlete and has a bright future. He has a long way to go, but his future is bright."

Jean-Mary said Brown, who would likely start with Daniel Brown out and is Burgess is sidelined, "is an aggressive kid who likes to fly around."

"He showed a lot," Jean-Mary said. "He was itching to get back onto the field and help the defense out after being injured. He's been a pleasant surprise."

And his teammates agree.

"He finds a way to get to the ball," veteran linebacker Preston Brown said of Keith Brown. "He's a freshman and is going to fly around and make plays."

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