William Gay helps improve Cardinal secondary

"Everybody out here is trying to be the best at their position and I'm trying to get into that role." - William Gay.

With a lack of depth and experience in the Louisville secondary prior to the 2003 season, head coach Bobby Petrino was forced to make a few decisions. One decision was to move receiver Antoine Harris to cornerback and the other was to play true freshman William Gay.

Gay, who was rated among the Top 100 cornerbacks in the country as a high school senior at Tallahassee's Rickards High School, adapted quickly, improving each game. By the end of the season Gay had started three contests.

"Everyday I just come out and work hard, listen to the coaches and do what I can to get better," Gay said of his determination to continually improve. "Everybody out here is trying to be the best at their position and I'm trying to get into that role."

As a freshman Gay recorded 33 total tackles and led the Cardinals with eight pass break ups. While he notched his first career sack in his collegiate debut against UTEP, he pulled in his first career interception weeks later against South Florida.

Now as a sophomore, Gay has continued to improve and his on the field swagger remind some of a previous Cardinal cornerback, Sam Madison, who is now with the Miami Dolphins.

"I do it because I love the game," Gay explained of his enthusiastic on the field presence. "If I'm not excited out there then I shouldn't play."

His attention to the coaches and game perperation, as well as his pure ability, helped Gay earn Conference USA All-Freshman team honors last fall. However, Gay entered fall practice with improved conditioning and a better understanding of the U of L defense.

"With Coach Veltkamp over the summer we worked out and trained everyday and worked on getting bigger and stronger," Gay said. "It's like a 180 since when I came in [as a true freshman]. I can really tell the difference this year."

By going against the U of L receiving corp daily during fall camp, Gay realizes that it is an opportunity to continually improve, especially when lined up against senior J.R. Russell.

"When we go one on one, their coach talks them up and our coach talks us up," said Gay. "It's great to be able to guard J.R. Russell a lot because he will be going to the NFL. I want to check him because it helps me get better to guard an NFL caliber type player."

With new defensive coordinator Mike Cassity and cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr, Gay realizes that those on the defensive side of the ball need to forget about the 2003 season and focus on improving.

"Last year is over with, so we all need to just come out here with a different mind," said Gay. "I think we'll be a lot better this year, but it doesn't matter what I say, we have to go out there and do it."

As for personal goals for his sophomore season?

"I just want to do what my coaches say," Gay said. "I want to have great technique and I want to have people in the league worried about me."

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