With the ink still fresh on the newest class of Cardinal football signees, Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino and staff went right back to work, turning their focus on the Class of 2006. In fact, after speaking with a number of current juniors over the past few weeks, it became clear that the U of L coaches were already hard at work on the upcoming seniors while still closing the deal on 2005.
I'm impressed by the early returns. While the initial Scout.com rankings have yet to be released, Louisville is often being mentioned by some of the prospects that will top the charts once the network completes its initial evaluations.
Showing that Louisville continues to become a more powerful name in the recruiting wars outside of the state, the Cardinals have recently targeted a number of highly sought after athletes. Prospects such as lineman Aaron Brown, defensive end Mike Gee, running back Eugene Sowell and defensive back Darrin Walls have all recently picked up scholarship offers from U of L.
The rising interest of the Cardinal football program within the state also appears to be having a positive effect within state borders as well. All of the Bluegrass State's best prospects are expressing strong interest early. Fort Campbell's Micah Johnson and Leonard Gordon, Central's Corey Peters and Lexington Catholic's Justin Burke are among the few in the state that appear to have become Louisville priorities.
The U of L coaching staff effectively used the program's move into the Big East Conference and the BCS during the just completed recruiting season to draw sincere interest from some of the nation's best high school players. Add in the mix that the Cardinals capped off the best season in school history with a final national ranking of sixth and that sincere interest drew even stronger.
The final result was a recruiting class that U of L coaching staff believes is the best in the history of the program.
"In my opinion this is the best group of kids to sign with Louisville in one recruiting class ever," U of L cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator Joe Whitt Jr., told the Inside the Ville Radio audience two weeks ago.
However, I expect that the Class of 2005 will suffer the same fate as the first two recruiting classes by this coaching staff. Both were considered the school's best ever, only just to see it surpassed the following year.
Until this new recruiting season, the Louisville coaches have had to sell the future. They had to sell prospects the dream of becoming a team that can compete with anyone. They had to sell the dream of the program becoming apart of the Bowl Championship Series.
That has all changed now. Louisville's coaches can now sell reality. They can sell the nation's best offense. They can sell a legitimate top ten team. They can sell an opportunity to play in a BCS Bowl. Most importantly, they can sell the opportunity of playing in the national championship game and becoming apart of history.
The Visits Never End
While Rick Pitino's squad welcomes St. Louis into Freedom Hall on Sunday, Coach Petrino and company will welcome a handful of unofficial visitors, who will most likely be sitting in the usual area near the floor in front of the student section. Among those making a visit will be Fort Campbell's Leonard Gordon and Micah Johnson.
Is It Time Yet?
In my last blog entry I suggested that this upcoming season might be the time to finally honor former Cardinal great and current quarterbacks coach Jeff Brohm by hanging a #11 jersey inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Well, that's not my only obvious suggestion for next season. With Howard Schnellenberger bringing his Florida Atlantic Owls to Louisville this fall, it provides the perfect setting for the University to finally name the field at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium to Schnellenberger Field. Better yet, talk Papa John Schnatter into allowing the stadium to be renamed Schnellenberger Stadium. After all, he is the one responsible for creating the excitement and motivating the community into building one of the nation's finest facilities.
Hurry Up All Ready!
I know I'm not alone. With Tuesday's perfect weather, I found myself craving spring football action. The Cardinals will kick off the spring session on March 31st and it seems like it can't get here fast enough.
I'm ready to watch the competition in the secondary, as the need to find replacements will be one of the priorities of spring ball. I'm looking forward to seeing the relationship between the receivers and quarterback Brian Brohm become even stronger.
I'm way past ready to see the Cardinals begin practice with their goals set on a Big East and National Championship!