U of L becoming top choice for Jersey prospects?

With it's move to the Big East Conference for the 2005 season, has University of Louisville football become a top choice for prospects, such as <B>Brian Callahan</b> and <B>Mike Gee</b> in The Garden State?

On National Signing Day University of Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino, while speaking with the media, cracked a nice size grin when he reached the name Darius Mann.

Coach Petrino knew that the signed a special player in the safety prospect.

"Darius has been a true commitment for us," Coach Petrino said. "He commited in May of last year and has been able to fight off everyone that has come in and wanted him to visit or offered him scholarships to go there. We couldn't be prouder of that. He is going to be a very good football player for us and he's someone we're going to expect to come in and play as a true freshman."

While the Cardinals gained a great defensive athlete, but it also signaled what should become an area of recruiting success in the years to come.

By the end of signing day Louisville had also secured the signing of Mann's Don Bosco Prep teammate and highly sought after offensive lineman, Brian Roche.

"It was huge for Louisville to get those two guys this year," said Don Bosco assistant coach Ty Caldwell. "It sets the standard for it's longterm success up here."

Don Bosco Prep, which is annually ranked among the nation's best in football, is a must stop for every coach that steps foot into New Jersey. The school produces numerous Division I talent every year.

"For Louisville to come into New Jersey, especially at Don Bosco, and do as well as they did speaks volumes about the current state of the program," explained Caldwell.

With ESPN broadcasting Louisville on what seemed as a weekly basis, as well as the Cardinals upcoming move from Conference USA to the Big East Conference, U of L assistant Kevin Wolthausen, who was responsible for recruiting New Jersey, found that nearly all of the prospects were welcoming.

"We were welcome everywhere we went," said Wolthausen of his time in the Garden State. "They all knew that we coming into the Big East, which really helped."

The U of L coaches should find the upcoming seniors to be even more inviting over the next recruiting year.

"For kids in this area, Louisville is definately one of the top five schools," said Caldwell. "They had a great season, but it is especially because of the Big East and they'll be one of the favorites for it next year."

By signing Mann and Roche, the Cardinals have drawn the attention of media throughout New Jersey and have become a more realistic choice for area players.

Two high targets for the U of L coaches in the current junior class are Queen Of Peace defensive end Mike Gee and Don Bosco receiver Brian Callahan are both among the state's best.

The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Gee, who recorded 45 tackles in just six games last fall and will very likely be rated among the nation's top seniors a year from now, anticipates making an unofficial visit to Louisville for the Cardinals spring game.

He currently holds offers from Louisville, Boston College, Alabama, Rutgers, Connecticut, Wisconsin and others.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Callahan, who will likely be among the country's top receivers in 2005, has collected multiple scholarship offers as well.

In addition to Louisville, Callahan has offers from Rutgers, Wisconsin, Iowa, Connecticut, Nebraska, among others.

"Louisville has done a great job recruiting him so far," Caldwell said of Callahan. "That's one of his top schools."

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