Freshmen begin making adjustments

On Saturday afternoon, before the returning veterans from last season's 11-1 team made the walk to the practice fields, Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino welcomed more than 20 new freshmen to their first college football experience.

For most, the transition from being the star on a high school team to a freshman on one of the nation's top programs can be difficult.

"I haven't felt this way in a long time," said freshman strong safety Darius Mann, who was rated among the top 50 high school safety prospects in the nation by "Everybody is so fast and it is so up-tempo. I can deal with it being up-tempo, because that is how we practiced back home, but here everybody is really good at what they do."

However, make no mistake, practicing under the hot and steamy sun at the U of L football complex is exactly where they want to be. Offensive lineman Brian Roche, who is nearly recovered from a broken leg suffered during the winter, watched the majority of the Saturday's action.

"It's hot out here, but I really wish I was out there with them," he said.

Throughout the afternoon, the newest members of the Cardinal program looked impressive. They were big, quick and motivated when participating in drills. The watched and listened while watching the veterans from the sidelines.

"I like the young guys," Petrino said following the first day of camp. "I think that we have some talent, speed and size there, which is good to see."

Mann, along with Louisville Ballard product Earl Heyman, was impressed by what he saw from the returning Cardinals.

"Our receivers are ridiculous," said Mann. "I think our secondary will be real good this year."

"We have great senior leadership and team effort," said Heyman. "Everybody is all for the team and not individual stats. Everything is about team success and how well we prepare and play this season."

The next few weeks will be crash course of new techniques and schemes for the newest Cardinals, as many compete for playing time in 2005. For Mann, it means learning a new position.

"Right now I'm just trying to learn the techniques," explained Mann. "In high school I played linebacker and running back and playing strong safety is a lot different."

"It's fun, but it's different," he continued. "I made a lot of mental mistakes so far, but it's only day one."

Practice continues on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and is open to the public.

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