In year's past, and even more so since the creation of the Bowl Championship Series, the Louisville football program has frequently relied on discovering the ‘hidden gems' while recruiting. Players that coaches believe have greater potential in front of them or could develop into a standout performer at a different position than they played in high school.
Former Cardinal Dewayne White is the perfect example of a ‘hidden gem' that became an All-American after he switched positions once he came to Louisville. Following his senior season at Marbury High School in Alabama, White was named Alabama Class 2A Back of the Year after he rushed for over 1,800 yards and 29 touchdowns. Once at Louisville, he moved to defensive end, where he earned numerous All-American honors.
Tom Jurich (ITV)
By becoming a member of the Big East Conference, Louisville football will no longer need to rely on finding the ‘hidden gems,' as it continues it's quest to make the Cardinal program a consistent winner and frequent presence in the Top 25 polls.
"That branding of being a non-BCS program hurt us," said U of L Athletic Director Tom Jurich at Tuesday's press conference announcing the school's membership into the Big East. "It's very difficult when you go into a recruits home and you have to be labeled as a non-BCS school, when half these other schools could never dream of being in a BCS game, but they are in a BCS conference. Now let's compete on a level playing field…let [head coach] Bobby [Petrino] have a chance."
Considering the success that Head Coach Bobby Petrino and his staff had this past recruiting period, without being on a level playing field, which included Parade All-American Michael Bush, the potential of future recruiting classes at Louisville appears limitless.
Coach Bobby Petrino (ITV)
The new recruiting pool not only includes the State of Kentucky, but also an entire new recruiting pool throughout the northeast corridor.
"Anytime that you play in certain areas, you need to recruit there," Petrino explained about recruiting in the northeast. "We've certainly been looking into it and already have since spring…we'll still keep the main emphasis in the south."
Since the construction of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and the Cardinal football complex, Louisville has boasted of having one of the nation's finest facilities and Coach Petrino believes that becoming a member of the Big East will increase the program's chances of bringing some of the region's top players on campus for official visits.
"Anytime we get a young man here on campus and they walk through the front door and see that weight room and training room, then walk them out and let them see Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, we'll have a great chance to get that player," said Petrino. "What this does is allow to get a higher-quality athlete on campus and I definitely I think our facilities will compare to anybody's."
The Louisville football has been informing a number of its prospects about the program's move into the Big East Conference.
"Very positively and I think they all get excited about it," said Petrino about the responses from prospects.
Inside theVille spoke with a handful of Cardinal prospects on Tuesday evening to get their reaction to Louisville's move to the Big East firsthand.
Brian Brohm (ITV)
One such prospect, and most likely the number one target for this recruiting class, is Louisville Trinity quarterback Brian Brohm.
"Being in the Big East is a big plus for [Louisville]," said quarterback prospect Brian Brohm, who is rated as one of the nation's top prospects. "It's a gold mine to be able to have a chance to compete for the national championship."
"It gives Louisville a new aspect," continued Brohm. "It means that they can do more than playing in Liberty Bowl every year…now they have a chance to play on New Year's Day."
Bobby Buchanan (TI)
"Oh yeah, that's big time exposure," said Bobby Buchanan, who plays cornerback for Joliet (IL) Catholic Academy. "It's making me think even more [about playing at Louisville]. Playing in the Big East…I'd be able to line up and play against All-American's."
Buchanan, is scheduled to make an official visit to Louisville on December 12th and anticipates making another unofficial visit to Louisville in January.
Facing tough competition in the Big East is another quality that was mentioned by defensive end prospect Nick Smith of Glen Oak High School in Canton, Ohio.
Nick Smith (TI)
Becoming a member of the Big East, which will provide Louisville an equal opportunity to reach the national championship game, will increase opportunities for Coach Petrino and staff to schedule the area's top athlete's for official visits and then allow the facilities, opportunities and fan support to speak for itself.
While play in the Big East Conference may not begin until the 2005 football season, Louisville has already started recruiting players that will help the program compete for the league title and it's associated BCS bowl game in it's initial year in the league.