For the second year in a row, Bobby Petrino's Cardinals have received a committment from a U.S. Army All-American, the equivilent of a McDonald's All-American on the hardwood. Last year, Trinity quarterback and Kentucky Mr. Football Brian Brohm spurned the college football world to sign with Louisville. This time around, it's Earl Heyman, a 6-3, 260-pound defensive end from Louisville Ballard High School, who turned down offers from Kentucky, Purdue, Clemson and Boston College to stay at home and play for the Cardinals.
Besides his All-America status, Heyman's committment is significant for another reason. Unlike U of L's most recent high school hotshots, Heyman stars on defense. Sure U of L has landed several high school All-Americans the past few years - Eric Shelton, Montrell Jones, Michael Bush and the aforementioned Brohm - but all of those stars make their headlines on offense.
And Heyman, who earned a starting spot for the East last weekend at the Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, figures to be a strong anchor for what is shaping up as a top-flight class of defensive line prospects for the Cardinals.
Besides Heyman, Petrino has also secured verbal commitments from several talented high school defensive linemen, including 6-2, 265-pound tackle L.D. Scott (three-star prospect) from Auburn, AL, and 6-3, 240-pound end Michael Adams (two-star prospect) from Pelham, AL, both ranked among that state's twenty-five best prospects. The list also includes 6-4, 235-pound Blake Boyd of Madisonville, Kentucky and 6-5, 240-pound Jonathan Holston of Tallahassee, Florida. Holston was a standout at defensive end for Rickards High School this past season, spurning advances from Michigan State, South Florida and Florida, but because of his large frame and quickness likely projects as a tackle in college.
The U of L coaches don't appear finished with their recruiting efforts of top defensive linemen, either. Elizabethtown's 6-4, 235-pound Brandon Deaderick, Scout.com's No. 18 defensive end prospect nationally, is expected to choose either Louisville, Alabama or Auburn - possibly this week. Deaderick, quick and athletic, would provide a perfect compliment opposite Heyman's brute strength and physical toughness.
The Cardinals could also receive an immediate boost along the defensive line next season if 6-4, 266-pound Zach Anderson from East Mississippi C.C. picks the Cardinals over Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss and Texas A&M. Anderson, a four-star recruit, has already made visits to Louisville, Oxford and Starkville and he'll take two more trips - to Texas A&M and Southern Miss - before making his college decision. However, Anderson recently told Scout.com that he favors two schools. "They are equal," Anderson said of Louisville and Ole Miss. "Just like I said earlier, you could put those two in a hat, and I could not go wrong."
Like any other school, Petrino and his staff have also swung and missed on a few talented defensive line prospects this season, most notably 6-4, 265 Antonio Forbes (Alabama) and 6-3, 255 Patrick Kuntz (Notre Dame). Still, with Heyman securely in the Cardinals' nest, the group of defensive prospects Petrino and company have lined up for the 2005 season figures to be one of the primary strength's of one of the school's best-ever recruiting classes.