The star of Bobby Petrino's highly regarded 2006 recruiting class, Whitehead, along with 17 other freshmen, will take the practice field for the first time Friday afternoon since signing national letters of intent last February.
Rated the No. 3 defensive end prospect in the nation as a senior at Birmingham's West End High School, Whitehead, better known as Peanut, spurned Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee to play for Louisville. With Whitehead on board, Louisville's freshmen class was rated No. 26 nationally by Scout.com.
Most of the incoming freshmen, including Whitehead, arrived in Louisville earlier this summer to participate in voluntary workouts, get a head start in the weight room and in the classroom. Now, the new guys are eager to prove to their coach that they're ready to contribute right away.
Two true freshmen – Whitehead and Brandon Heath - enter practice listed on the Cardinals depth chart. The 6'6, 245 pound Whitehead begins practice listed as the third string defensive end behind Brandon Cox and Jonathan Holston. Heath, a 6'1, 195 pound defensive back from West Palm Beach, Florida, is listed as the number four free safety.
Several other newcomers could earn playing time this fall. According to reports out of summer camp, Troy Pascley, a 6'2, 185 pound wide receiver, has been among the most impressive performers, displaying sure hands and blazing speed. Aundre Henderson, a local product from Manual High, could push for playing time along the defensive front, while Latarrius Thomas and L.T. Walker might also factor into the mix.
Whitehead enters fall camp No. 3 on the
Cardinals depth chart at defensive end.
One of the more interesting aspects of fall camp each year is watching the coaching staff move players around to find their best position. Several players figure to be tried at multiple positions, including Thomas, Eugene Sowell, Johnny Patrick, Jeff Allen and Jeremy Baker.
Thomas, an impressive looking 6'2, 200 pound athlete, worked on both sides of the ball during the summer and will likely get a shot at both safety and wide receiver. Sowell, one of the better prospects in Alabama last season, could see action at both running back and linebacker, while Patrick, arguably the fastest member of the class, could play cornerback or wide receiver. The 6'8, 320 pound Allen, and Baker, a 6'5, 358 pound lineman, could play on either side of the ball.
Three of the Cardinals more highly rated 2006 signees – Josh Chichester, Kareem Crowell, and Demetrius Culpepper - failed to qualify academically and have enrolled elsewhere for the fall semester. Chichester will attend Harmony Prep in Cincinnati, while Crowell will prep at Hargrave Military Academy. Both Chichester and Crowell are expected to enroll at U of L in January. Culpepper is enrolled at East Mississippi C.C.
Additionally, three other 2006 signees will ‘greyshirt' the fall semester and enroll at U of L next January, just as JaJuan Spillman, Josh Byrom and Craig James did last year. Josh Hawkins, a 6'7, 330 pound offensive lineman, Emanuel Francis, a 6'3, 195 pound quarterback/athlete, and Ryan Kessling, a 6'5, 275 pound offensive lineman, will join the Cardinals next semester.
If you're going out to practice, keep an eye on freshmen Rodney Gnat and Tyler Wolfe. A tremendous athlete with outstanding size, Gnat (6'3, 223) could be a pleasant surprise at outside linebacker, while Wolfe, Louisville's only quarterback signee, reportedly threw the ball well during summer drills.
Stay tuned to InsideTheVille.com for interviews and updates throughout preseason practice on the Cardinals freshmen class.