University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong said last month at American Athletic Conference media days that it was going to "take a total and complete team effort" to live up to the expectations.
Strong went on to say for the U of L football team reach its goals this season some guys – other than the regulars – were going to have to step up.
The staff at Cardinal Authority believes we know a few of those players. With this piece, we take a look at five guys who could surprise this season for the Cardinals.
Deiontrez Mount, Defensive endMount is listed behind Marcus Smith at his position and often gets overshadowed by Smith and Lorenzo Mauldin, the other starting DE, but is primed for a monster season. The junior had 26 tackles, 2.5 sacks and four tackles for a loss last season. He's been talking with Mauldin about "bringing down the board," in reference to the U of L sack records.
Kai De la Cruz, Wide Receiver
Fans might remember him as Kai Dominguez. Well, it's not De La Cruz after a name change and he's generated a ton of chatter from the coaches and players after what Charlie Strong called a "great fall camp" De La Cruz had just one catch last season – for one yard – in 11 games but was the primary punt returner for the Cardinals. He's listed second on the depth chart behind DeVante Parker and is certain to get some serious playing time early in the season.
Gerod Holliman, Safety
One source told us that with the former U.S. Army All-American the "light bulb finally went on," noting he's been solid in camp. The 6-foot, 200-pound Holliman will likely be the main backup at both safety spots for Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor and we could see him in some nickel packages. He's talented and has a huge, huge upside. Expect Holliman on all the special teams coverage squads.
Devontre Parnell, defensive back/returns
You might say, ‘He's not even on the depth chart?' And you would be correct. But he's probably going to be the guy in the back returning kicks – with Corvin Lamb – to start the season. Kicker John Wallace said Parnell is the fastest returner on the team and special teams coach Kenny Carter said he's a "difference maker."
Griffin Uhl, Fullback
OK, so maybe we are putting him on here just hoping that he does something because he's such a great story. But in all reality, the 6-foot-2, 270-pound fullback is "maybe the biggest surprise on this team," according to offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. He's huge and he's athletic. He'll open some holes for the Cardinals. Uhl didn't play high school football because his high school – Henryville, Ind., - didn't have a team, making him a sensational storyline.
True freshmen to watch: Cameron Fraser (OL) was a surprise listed as second team at left tackle, while Finesse Middleton (DE) missed some camp with an injury but was here for spring ball and will contribute.