Several defensive signees could see quick action

With the addition of six defensive linemen and six defensive backs in what is arguably the top recruiting class in school history, University of Louisville defensive coordinator Mike Cassity thinks the Cardinals signed the right mix of talented players to make his unit even stronger in the future.

Mike Cassity, the defensive coordinator at the University of Louisville, likes to attack opposing offenses with a fast and physical defense.

To play that type of aggressive style, Cassity needs guys on the edge who can play up on the line, be physical and then turn and cover receivers step for step down the field. He also needs some guys along the defensive front that can beat opposing offensive linemen and apply pressure to the quarterback.

With the addition of six defensive linemen and six defensive backs in what is arguably the top recruiting class in school history, Cassity thinks the Cardinals signed the right mix of talented players to make his unit even stronger in the future.

"I think it starts up front with Earl Heyman, L.D. Scott, Zach Anderson and those big defensive linemen," Cassity said. "And I'm really excited about the guys we have in the secondary. Travis Norton, Darius Mann, E.K. Sawyer, Lamar Alston and Nate Harris is obviously a great player for us to get. We're excited."

There was talk from U of L coaches on Wednesday that several of the new signees might see quick action and make important contributions next season. And with six starters departing from an 11-1 team, the most likely candidates to see action in 2005 appear to be Harris, Anderson, Norton and Alston.

The class also has future benefits, too. Asked if this class of signees helps further the implimentation of his aggressive, attacking style of defense, Cassity seemed to think it would.

"I think so," he said. "Coach Petrino kept talking about the fast DB's with long arms. We like to press up, be on the line of scrimmage and get our hands on the receivers and give our pass rush time to get there. It worked last year and I think we've really upgraded those positions."

The need for immediate contributions in the secondary, especially considering the four seniors that departed from a much improved unit in 2004, might make the need to play guys like Norton and Alston next season inevitable.

"We're going to sure take a look," Cassity said. "This class in the secondary is probably the best I've ever been around just because they've all got size and great speed."

One player that popped up late in the recruiting process, 6-2, 200-pound Richard Raglin from Atlanta Southside, could turn out to be a pleasant surprise to fan not familiar with his talent or abilities. Raglin, a physical, though unheralded safety, made an official visit to Louisville last weekend and chose the Cardinals over South Carolina shortly after returning home from the trip. Cassity says he brings some things to the table not present in U of L secondary in recent seasons.

"I recruited Richard Raglin and you're going to see video of this guy where he comes out of the middle of the field really hitting people," Cassity said. "That's something we haven't had out of our safeties the past couple years, including this past season."

Entering the Big East Conference next season also helped the Cardinals beat out some of the more tradional powers for several talented prospects.

"I think any time you can tell a young man you're going into a conference that people maybe pick you to be the favorite and you have a chance to compete for a BCS bowl, then you start turning heads," Cassity said. "It gives you instant credibility when you walk in."

With 13 defensive signees, Cassity felt good about what the Cardinals were able to accomplish on the recruiting trail this year.

"Like everything else, you can always say the grass is greener," said Cassity. "But we fulfilled our needs and that's what we look at each year."


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