U of L football: Recruits jump 'on the train'

The University of Louisville football staff is on quite a recruiting roll in recent weeks, landing 11 commitments in a month. The Cardinals leads the country in total number of commitments and rank among the nations top 25 classes. Cardinal Authority takes a look at the recent recruiting success.

When Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Cardinal Gibbons wide receiver George Rushing committed to the University of Louisville last Friday he had a prediction.

"I wonder who will be the next wide receiver commitment?" Rushing asked in an interview with Cardinal Authority. "Soon, you will see."

Less than 24 hours later, Jacksonville, Fla., Trinity Christian wide receiver Isaiah Ford popped for Louisville, giving the Cardinals a 13th commitment in the Class of 2014 before school had even ended for most high schools across the country.

The commitments have been coming fast and furious.

Louisville, coming off an 11-2 record and Sugar Bowl victory, has 11 commitments in just over a month and has more commitments heading into the summer than ever before with the program. The Cardinals only had 10 verbal commitments until early September last year.

"Everybody wants to get on the train," linebacker Detric Dukes of Tucker, Ga., who committed one month ago today said.

The Cardinals are not only tied with Texas for most commitments of any program in the country but are ranked as the No. 25 class in the country currently according to the Scout.com national rankings.

"I'm feeling really good about the Louisville Class of 2014," said Dukes, who picked up an offer from Ohio State last week but remains firm with U of L.

The Cardinals have eight commitments from the talent-rich state of Florida, while picking up three from Ohio and one from Kentucky and Georgia. U of L has signed 33 players – out of a total of 79 - from Florida in the first four classes put together by Charlie Strong and his staff.

Fox Sports NEXT director of football scouting Scott Kennedy said U of L has "quality" in their commitments because of the way the staff is recruiting the fertile areas like Florida, Ohio and Georgia.

"Louisville has definitely moved up a level on recruits that they can get in early on out of state," Kennedy said. "They still won't have a lot of luck recruiting against the power teams in their own states, meaning Florida in Florida, Georgia in Georgia, Alabama in Alabama, etc. . . . but they're having a great deal of success getting early commitments from the next level of guys in those states, especially Florida.

"Fill a team with Top 100 kids from Florida, a few in-state stars, and other heavily recruited regional players, and Louisville is going to continue to be tough to beat in the future."

Trinity quarterback Reggie Bonnafon was the first commitment in the class and is the lone four-star among the group for the Cardinals.

All eight of the commitments from Florida are listed by Scout.com as three-star prospects, while Dukes is also a three-star. Three of the Florida prospects are ranked among the top 100 players at their position.

Strong said during a signing day press conference in February that the staff was expected to hit the state of Ohio more in recruiting and that's happened. The Cardinals have offered more than two dozen Ohio prospects and have three commitments from the state.

"The Louisville efforts in Ohio really started to take off with the 2013 class, and has intensified this year with the three commits," Fox Sports NEXT state of Ohio recruiting expert Bill Greene said. "Even on prospects they aren't getting, they are on their minds and finalists in the decision."

The three prospects from Ohio – Minford offensive tackle Jared McCray, Cincinnati Walnut Hills safety Nilijah Ballew and Columbus Hamilton Township all-purpose back Micky Crum – are the three unranked prospects at this point.

But Greene and other experts do expect that to change.

"I would say McCray, Crum and Ballew will all be three-stars on Scout once we update the rankings, with Ballew being the highest-rated of the three," Greene said, noting the rankings will be updated soon.

And there will probably be more U of L commits to rank soon.

The Cardinals run doesn't appear to be over with several key targets expected to make decisions in the coming weeks, including Fishers, Ind., Hamilton Southeastern three-star wide receiver Cameron Polk expected to decide soon.

Belton Honea-Path, S.C., linebacker Kendall Joseph is expected to pick between U of L, Clemson and Duke, soon, while Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern linebacker Henry Famurewa has U of L listed as his favorite.

And there are sure to be others.

Kennedy said the recent success with the pending move into the ACC and the strong staff ties in Florida all have contributed to the success in recruiting.

"We talked about how the boost works like the old baseball saying "You get the all-star nod the year after you deserve it'," Kennedy said. "By the time January rolls around, and the teams have been off from four to six weeks, players have already made up their minds for the most part, but the juniors who are being recruited get a chance to start becoming more heavily influenced by the direction of the various programs. A Sugar Bowl win and subsequent ranking help show Louisville is definitely trending in the right direction."

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