University of Louisville defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon began working with the Cardinals during the final weeks of the recruiting period and made it an immediate priority to learn about and create relationships with the program's new additions on his side of the ball.
In addition to his coordinator responsibilities, Sirmon, who spent seven seasons playing linebacker for the NFL's Tennessee Titans, will also oversee the Cardinals crop of linebackers and he's impressed by the group joining the team in the 2017 recruiting haul.
"I like that they are all a little bit different," he said.
Among the likely group of linebackers is Scout 300 safety and early enrollee C.J. Avery. At 6-foot-1, 210-pounds, Avery has the frame that would allow a move up to the linebacker spot.
"I like that C.J. Avery has some flexibility," he said. "When you look at him, he's getting stronger and bigger everyday."
Fellow early enrollee Kam Jones was rated among the nation's top 50 inside linebacker prospects nationally. The Gwinnett, Ga., product is quickly learning the expectations of him and is already displaying the leadership qualities needed at his position.
"Kam is a true inside guy," said Sirmon. "I think he's going to be a very smart and intelligent leader. I think he's going to be one of the guys that learns fast. We've just got to get him physically developed to go out there and play against more mature and developed players."
One of the more underrated prospects in the class, Dorian Etheridge, 6-foot-3, 228-pounds, has displayed the ability to react quickly to an unfolding play, a quality that could lend itself to early playing time. The Charleston, W.V. product was among the nation's top 50 as this spot.
"Dorian Etheridge has great potential," he said. "He's a very instinctual player."
An additional linebacker signee, Malik Clark, rated a Scout three-star target, is projected to move to the defensive front and become an edge rusher for the Cardinals. With a 6-foot-2, 249-pound frame, the top 100 outside linebacker prospect spent time at Milledgeville (Ga.) Baldwin attacking the quarterback from the defensive end spot.
"Malik played some edge in high school, which athletic big kids usually do because it helps his team more because its harder to block him," Sirmon explained. "He has the frame, the size, the mentality and he knows he's going to get bigger in the weight room."