Kai De La Cruz scored two touchdowns in the opening game of the season, posting 116 yards in a win over Ohio University.
A junior wide receiver with the University of Louisville football team, De La Cruz was one of the Cardinals' most steady offensive weapons in the first portion of the season after having a banner fall camp.
"Just all-around solid," wide receiver coach Ron Dugans said.
But then in a win over Rutgers, De La Cruz went down with a hamstring injury and it ruined the rest of his season. He played a few snaps the next week against Central Florida but then missed the final five games of the season.
"I did a lot of rest and a lot of rehab," De La Cruz said.
Now, De La Cruz is ready to play again. Dugans said he was available for the Cincinnati game but De La Cruz said he was held out a little longer and now "I am feeling great, I am ready to play."
De La Cruz has been practicing during bowl preparation and is expected to see action against Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28.
"It feels great to be able to run again full speed," he said. "It's good to be back and to be able to help them out. I am ready to go."
Two years ago, De La Cruz played in four games for the Cardinals but he redshirted last season. He was one of the early storylines this season and a candidate for Most Improved Player before the injury.
And the toughest thing was watching his team. The Cardinals finished 11-1 and De La Cruz said it "can't wait to help them out again."
"It was terrible to see my team, not only in games but practice," he said. "I wanted to be out helping them as much as I could.
"The injury was a lot more severe than I first thought it was but now I am back."
De La Cruz has 15 catches for 271 yards and three TDs.