Antoine Sharp taking ownership of new position

Antoine Sharp, who transferred to Louisville from Florida as a receiver following the 2002 season, is preparing as the likely starting strong safety for his senior season.

Following an outstanding prep career at Bolles High School in Jacksonville where he garnered All-American honors as a wide receiver, Antoine Sharp made the decision to commit to the University of Florida. After seeing action in three game for the Gators in 2002, Sharp chose to transfer and join his younger brother Brandon at Louisville.

While many expected him to join the Cardinals already dangerous group of receivers, Sharp changed positions to cornerback prior to the 2004 season. After recording 29 tackles and an interception last fall, the Jacksonville native is preparing for a new season and a new position.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Sharp is currently listed at the top of the depth chart at strong safety and will be the likely starter when the team opens the season at Kentucky in early September.

"I'm comfortable with it. I had the entire spring to get to learn the position better, but I did play at safety a lot last year. A lot of people don't know that because I was in with different personnel. I'm learning a lot still and really getting comfortable at the position."

His experience playing in the Cardinals seconday last year has helped Sharp, who was named the team's Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2004, develop into one of the program's leaders during summer workouts.

"I feel like I am a leader on the defensive side of the ball, so I have to take ownership of it of the position. I have to go out and practice and play hard and lead by example."

While replacing Kerry Rhodes, who was drafted by the New York Jets, won't be a simple task, Sharp does expect to have a strong season for Mike Cassity's defense.

"I don't know if I can top what he did," Sharp said of Rhodes. "He had a spectacular year last year, but I feel like I am going to come out and have a really good year this year. I have been training hard and studying hard for this."

With expectations for the U of L program reaching new heights as the 2005 season approaches, Sharp realizes that a strong senior year may help the Cardinals reach the school's first Bowl Championship Series bowl.

"I want to have a couple of picks, have a lot of tackles and come away with a national championship," he said. "A national championship is the big thing."

So, as a former receiver now playing safety, just how will it feel to see open field after making an interception?

"It's going to feel great!"

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