Senior reserves 'vital' part of Cards program

When the seniors are honored prior to Louisville's game against Memphis on Saturday, the group will include key starters and vital reserves.

Prior to Louisville kicking off against long-time foe Memphis on Saturday afternoon, the program's seniors will be honored. A significant note about the departing seniors is that they are the first group of four-year players to participate in a bowl game since those that helped the Cardinals win the 2006 Orange Bowl.

Charlie Strong's first recruiting class have rebuilt a winning tradition at the University of Louisville.

Among the group that will be honored at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium this weekend is Port St. Lucie (Fla.) Treasure Coast product Deon Rogers.

A former three-star prospect, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Rogers has been a special teams performer and reserve linebacker throughout his career.

"It feels like I got here yesterday," Rogers said. "It's crazy that it is almost time to get into the real world after football. It's exciting."

While they already have a pair of bowl victories on their resume, Rogers and his fellow seniors hope to start a new trend against the Tigers. U of L hasn't enjoyed a victory on Senior Day since defeating Rutgers in 2007.

"It's a very important game," Rogers said. "For all of us seniors, it's our last home game. We're excited to come out the right way and finish with a win because the past couple years we haven't won on senior day, so that's what we are trying to do this year."

When freshmen, the outside expectations were set low, many picking the Cardinals last in the Big East. Instead the team rebounded from a three-year absence from the post season.

"When I first got here we were 7-6 and its amazing how far we've come from the Beef O'Brady Bowl to the Sugar Bowl last year," Rogers told Cardinal Authority. "It's been amazing strides and shows that all the hard work that we've done is paying off."

Joining Rogers will be the many names that most are familiar with, but there are also some that aren't as recognizable because their contributions have happened more often on the practice fields.

Fellow reserve linebacker Champ Lee and receiver Jarrett Davis have also played key roles in the U of L's progression the past four years.

Walk-ons such as Mike Addesa, Anthony Branch, Chris Walker and Alex Witcpalek have filled important roles in game preparation.

"They are part of the program because on scout team they work so hard," said U of L head coach Charlie Strong. "They don't get the glory on game day because they're not out there, but they get the guys ready for that day and for that moment.

"When they run out there, some people are going to say, 'who is that?' They are a vital part of this program and they've done so much for this program. There's going to be a lot of guys who run out there Saturday who fans are probably going to say, 'who is that guy?' He's a Louisville Cardinal and that's all that matters. He's a big part of this program."

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