University of Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino has a lot of talent on the roster to work with this season, including some veteran players and a few newcomers that could contribute.
As the opener against Charlotte gets closer, Cardinal Authority takes a look at 5 players that have an opportunity to fill a larger role and be impact performers for the Cardinals offense or defense this fall.
1. James Hearns, Junior, Outside Linebacker
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Hearns played in 12 games last season and we've heard chatter about his talent for several years. But this is the first time he's been in the spotlight as a starter and he's going to have the opportunity to shine. Hearns is so big and physical and yet runs like a 200-pound guy on the field. He has 16 tackles for his career and that number is going to skyrocket.
2. Reggie Bonnafon, Junior, Wide Receiver
It's hard to have last year's starting quarterback on the potential 'breakout' list but Bonnafon is in a new role this season and one that we believe he will thrive in for the Cardinals. Bonnafon is only playing wide receiver, except for a few trick plays and maybe a couple of plays from out of the backfield. Expect Bonnafon to be one of the team's leaders in total receptions this season.
3. De'Asian Richardson, Junior, Defensive End
Another name we have heard for a few years, the very athletic and mobile 6-foot-3, 335-pound Richardson gets his chance this fall. He would have been one of the breakouts last season but tore his ACL during the summer. He came back and played well, now we expect him to be a huge key for Todd Grantham's defense this fall.
4. Jaire Alexander, Sophomore, Cornerback
This is an easy one because Alexander could be one of the real stars of this team. Not only is he going to be a starting corner and one of the best hitters and tacklers on the team, but he will return punts and perhaps kicks. He's electric with the ball in his hands and we expect him to get it a few times with punts and also with interceptions.
5. Kahlil Hunter, Senior, Offensive Lineman
Hunter was disappointed in his first season at U of L after coming from junior college. He only played in a couple of games but the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Hunter has been running with the first all fall camp and should be one of the starters at a guard position. He'll have every opportunity in the world to remain in that starting lineup and we think he will be a standout by the end of the season.