The Tuesday Trifecta
Tuesday had the making to become a strong day for Louisville football recruiting as the coaches hit the road hard in all directions, making stops at many of the top prospects homes that had previously made an official visit to U of L. When prospects such Travis Norton, Careg Bonner and Zach Anderson returned home from official trips to opposing schools last weekend and continued to have high praise for Louisville, the coaches must have realized that those three in particular were ripe for the picking. Their efforts created a frenzy among Cardinal fans as it seemed that news of a new commitment hit the homepage of InsidetheVille.com every hour.
The fun all started at around 5:30 p.m., when we reported the decision to commit by cornerback Travis Norton. (FULL STORY) It continued moments later when Junior College All-American Zach Anderson infomed us that he had cast his lot with U of L. (FULL STORY) Huntsville (AL) High School athlete Careg Bonner capped off the trifecta when he made his decision known. (FULL STORY).
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Tuesday's three commitments gives Louisville 25 verbal pledges to date, meaning that there is little room left for the recruiting class of 2005. Due to the grayshirt process, three of this year's scholarship count will include Davis Manning, Bobby Buchanan and Mozell Axsom, all of whom committed to U of L last year but chose to wait until January to begin their Cardinal careers. However, a couple of the junior college commitments, Stevin Williams and Marcus Gordon, are mid-year transfers, meaning that they will count againt the 2004 scholarship count.
Additionally, as ITV reported on Tuesday morning, Josh Byrom, who committed to U of L in September, has decided to grayshirt and join the team in January of 2006, opening an additional scholarship for the 2005 class. It's also very likely that one or two more players may choose to grayshirt, opening even more scholarships for this recruiting season.
Confused yet? Don't worry, most are. However, what it boils down to is that U of L will most likely take commitments from 28 or 29 players this year.
ND following U of L?
Is it just me or has Notre Dame been spotted near a number of U of L prospects lately? Kuntz commitment to the Irish is understandable since he grew up a fan of Notre Dame. Also, since Brian Roche and Brian Cushing have yet to commit to a school they open game. However, what I can't understand is Notre Dame's 'full court press' on U of L commit Darius Mann.
Mann, who was the first to commit this year, has been constant with his desire to become a Louisville Cardinal. He stopped taking calls from coaches at other schools. He made an unofficial visit during the summer. During his official visit in December while watching the Cardinals practice for the Liberty Bowl, he followed the safties to each drill to gain an understanding of what he can expect when he arrives for fall practice. He is definatley one of the most important members of the 2005 class.
While I fully expect that Mann will be one of the first to fax his signed Letter of Intent to the U of L football office on National Signing Day, Notre Dame's continued efforts to lure the 3-star prospect away only proves how good of a job Bobby Petrino's staff is at evaluating talent.
I admit to being surprised by the internet rumors and report from a Los Angeles radio station that Brian Cushing had committed to USC. However, I have since learned that it might not be the case. Cushing, who could be the highest rated out of state prospect to ever sign with Louisville, will be visited by U of L assistants Mike Cassity and Kevin Wolthausen on Wednesday evening. We will hopefully find out later tonight just how U of L stands with the 5-star linebacker.
Following his strong performance at the U.S. Army All-American game last weekend, recent U of L commit Earl Heyman has seen his rating and ranking upgraded on the Scout.com network.
Previously a 3-star prospect, Heyman is now ranked as the 11th best defensive end in the country and is listed with 4-stars.
Additionally, Heyman was recently voted by the Kentucky High School Coaches Association as the state's Defensive Player of the Year. He will be awarded with a ring to signify the award at the Kentucky - Tennessee All-Star game later this year.
One QB Enough?
Louisville received a commitment from quarterback Lee Sweeney, a finalist for Tennessee's Mr. Football, last weekend, but another signal-caller is considering the Cardinals.
Jonathan Garner is set to announce his decision on Wednesday and he has stated that it will be Louisville or Georgia Tech. My advice to U of L fans...one is enough. Sweeney appears to be the quarterback that Louisville had targeted as their first choice and has probably since backed off Garner.
With so few scholarships remaining I don't anticipate a commitment from a pure running back in this class. U of L still has a stable of highly talented backs, so I believe that the coaching staff will likely sign an athlete that could play a number of positions, including running back if needed.
If I recall correctly, weren't many Cardinal fans debating if the 2003 group of signees, highlighted by Michael Bush, was the best ever in the history of U of L? Didn't the same debate arise with the Class of 2004, which was highlighted by Brian Brohm? I thought so.
So here we are with signing day rapidly approaching and for the third straight year the debate has surfaced. As I did the previous two seasons, I agree. This year's group of commitments, especially if it includes Brandon Deaderick and Brian Roche, as the best ever in the history of the program.
What it indicates is that Coach Bobby Petrino and staff have continually increased their efforts and have made impressive strides while competing with the more 'traditional' football programs.
For those of you that follow player ratings, and I know there are plenty of you, U of L currently holds verbal commitments from four players rated with 4-stars and an additional six rated as 3-star prospects. Additionally, three more are rated among the 100 best athletes in the nation at thier respective positions.