The University of Louisville football season has been over for less than two weeks but already head coach Bobby Petrino has welcomed news players to the team.
The Cardinals, who lost a group of seniors that helped guide the program to four bowl games, have nine new players already enrolled in school.
Petrino and his staff have the new players enrolled in class, already working out with the rest of the returning players. All nine of those players will also be available for spring practice. Last season, U of L added five new players in January.
Prior to the Belk Bowl against Georgia, Petrino said adding new players in January was "a big key" for programs to continue to improve. The Cardinals have two high school players enrolling early and six junior college transfers and one transfer player.
The two high school players enrolling early are Phenix City, Ala., athlete Traveon Samuel and Mint Hill, N.C., Rocky River cornerback Jaire Alexander. Samuel played in the Sempre Fi All-American game last weekend, while Alexander flipped his commitment from South Carolina to the Cardinals just before the early signing day.
Among the JUCO players enrolling are Eastern Arizona teammates Tim Cook, a running back, and offensive lineman Kahlil Hunter. Running back Jeremy Smith from Fresno, Calif., City College, is 6-foot-1, 220 pounds and ran last season for for 1,735 yards and 17 touchdown.
Former Tennessee wide receiver Paul Harris, who was at Iowa Western last season, has also enrolled, along with UAB wide receiver transfer Jamari Staples.
Tight end Cole Hikutini was a late addition after a solid season at City College of San Francisco. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Hikutini caught 40 passes for 658 yards and four TDs.
Pearl River, Miss., defensive end Drew Bailey is the only new addition on defense.
"I think we got better," Petrino said when asked about the guys who were going to enroll early, noting it was "huge" to get them in spring practice.