In addition to his new role as a first-year assistant coach for Louisville, Cort Dennison is also in his first year as the program's recruiting coordinator. The Salt Lake City native is considered by many in throughout coaching as a young mind on the rise for his talents in both areas.
He worked as a defensive graduate assistant for Bobby Petrino at both WKU and Louisville. In 2015 he also served as the team's Director of On-Campus Recruiting. He's proven his value at each spot, prompting Petrino to promote to a full-time assistant in February.
When on the field working with the Cardinals secondary, Dennison is an active coach. Just a few years removed from being the starting inside linebacker at Washington, where he earned second team All-Pac 12 honors, he's quick to step in and teach and appears ready to suit up and join in at any moment.
"I have a passion for the game and I finished playing not to long ago, so I can still run around some with these guys," he said.
That high level of energy is also present in his efforts as the recruiting coordinator.
The recent recruiting success has been evident during the team's first three days of fall camp, with the newcomers working as a group in the mornings. Many of the first-timers are competing for playing time immediately and a handful will become contributors in their rookie seasons. It's that type of recruiting that has allowed U of L to compete for the ACC crown since Petrino's arrival and it is the direction that Dennison is pushing current efforts.
"It's going well," he said. "We've obviously been very successful the last couple of years and we're only going to continue to be successful. I take a lot of pride in it. Being the recruiting coordinator, I want to make sure that our program is a place where we can compete for a national championship every year and I feel like the way we are going and the way that we are going to continue to go, we'll have people in those positions so we'll have that opportunity going forward."
A priority for Petrino in his recruiting efforts has to get prospects on campus and preferably to participate in one of the program's camp for in person evaluation. Those efforts, which Dennison described as "huge," have resulted in multiple commitments during the past two seasons and has continued for the class of 2017.
"We want to get kids on campus," he said. "Obviously showing our campus and the new facilities that we have and what we are building is only going to be at our advantage, so it's big to get kids on campus."
In addition to game film, an emphasis on evaluation from the coaches themselves is the focus. The Cardinals national recruiting rankings have hovered between No.25 - No. 40 in recent years. The 2017 class, which currently holds 18 commitments from ten different states, plus an offensive lineman that plays for the German national team, continues to climb in the Scout rankings.
"We don't look at the stars or anything like that," he said. "We look at how effective kids are on the field."
The staff has also made a priority of locating and forming relationships with nation's best players as early as possible. U of L already has four commitments in the class of 2018 - all from Florida - and has multiple offers in the class of 2019. Just this past weekend, class of 2020 wide receiver Christian Fitzpatrick, the younger brother of freshman Dez Fitzpatrick, received a scholarship offer from the Cardinals.
"It's big because you always have to get ahead in the recruiting game and get an advantage on people," Dennison explained. "Some of the better players in all the classes are starting to get recruited, so anytime you can get ahead it's only going to be good for your program."