Reve a huge addition for Louisville defense

University of Louisville redshirt junior Jermaine Reve came back earlier than expected from a knee injury and has given the Cardinals' defense a boost. Reve has played in two games for the Cardinals since his return to the field after being injured in the spring.

Jermaine Reve's name was an afterthought for most University of Louisville football fans - and perhaps even the coaches - this season.

The redshirt junior is one of the top defensive players on the U of L roster but suffered an ACL injury on March 25 - the first day of the second week of spring practice - and had surgery that many figured would sideline him all season in early April.

But six months later, Reve is back on the field and has become a huge lift for the U of L defense in the past two games.

"I know a lot of people thought that 'Reve was out for the season,' that I wouldn't come back the whole season," Reve said. "But honestly, I never thought that for a minute. I always knew that it could be done. I always knew I was going to get back."

Reve overcame the odds and has returned. He has five tackles, including two tackles for a loss and a sack, along with a pass deflection and a pass break up in two games.

U of L defensive coordinator Todd Grantham called him a "relentless guy," and head coach Bobby Petrino said he's elated to have him back on the field.

"(Trainer) Kyle (Johnson) kept telling me, 'Jermaine's working so hard, we might have him back'," Petrino said. "We checked in with him a couple weeks later, and he said he's progressed even ahead of where he was. His attitude and his work ethic is the reason he's where he is. Yes, he's ahead of where we thought he would be at this point."

But not where Reve thought he could be.

A native of Miami, Reve is a former teammate of Teddy Bridgewater's at Northwestern High School where he was a three-star prospect and one of five players to attend U of L.

After a redshirt season in 2011, Reve played in all 13 games each of the past two seasons and came into the spring a one of the top defensive players for the Cardinals. He was expected to help shore up a weak safety rotation after the loss of four-year starter Hakeem Smith and first-round NFL draft pick Calvin Pryor.

Instead, Reve went down during a spring drill.

"It was so hard," he said. "One of the hardest things was not being able to just practice. I came here in camp and watched my teammates go through two-a-days, but I couldn't help. That was the hardest thing just that I couldn't do it."

Reve said he "had no idea" when he was going to be able to return but said the training staff said "I was progressing fast," but noted there was no time table.

During his rehab, Reve said a big key for him was his upper-body work and "staying in the playbook," with a new staff and a new defensive scheme.

And then he made his return at Clemson.

"Wow, that was a big thing," he said. "I knew how big that game was and I knew the importance and not only to be out there but to start was so much fun."

Junior defensive back Charles Gaines called Reve the "best communicator" on the U of L defense and said it was a "huge lift" to have him back.

"He's helped us come even further," Gaines said. "He's really helped us out."

Reve said he's been feeling great since his return and is hoping to help this team finish out strong, starting Thursday night against Florida State.

"I feel great," Reve said. "I think once I hit my five-month period, I felt great every since and I still had a month to go. So, then I got into my playbook and made sure that I knew what I was doing when I did come back."


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