Fast start aids Petrino's recruiting efforts

Things are going well for Bobby Petrino and the Louisville football program. The Cardinals are 4-0, ranked 8th nationally, and squarely in the national championship mix. That's stuff recruits notice and Petrino has seen a warm reception from top prospects on the recruiting trail in recent weeks.

Louisville already holds four football verbal commitments for next season in what is expected to be a relatively small recruiting class for the Cardinals.

Combine those four commitments with several players who signed with Louisville last February and are expected to enroll at U of L in January, and Bobby Petrino and staff are well on their way toward another solid recruiting haul.

Louisville, ranked 8th nationally after starting the 2006 season, 4-0, with wins over three BCS programs, including perennial power Miami, appears to be reaping the benefits for its on-field success on the recruiting trail.

Recently, Petrino and his staff took time away from practice and game preparation to hit the road in search of some future stars.

"The problem with recruiting right now is that it's an evaluation period, so you can't make contact with the players or visit them in their house," Petrino explained. "You get six days to go out and go to their school, get video, get their transcripts and evaluate the prospects and watch practice."

The Cardinals are battling college football's elite this season for several of the nation's top high school football prospects. Louisville is locked in heated recruiting wars with LSU, Miami, and USC for five-star defensive lineman Luther Davis, South Carolina for five-star wide receiver Mark Barnes, Florida State and Florida for five-star defensive tackle D'Angelo McCray and Penn State and Clemson for four-star tight end Wesley Saunders.

Davis, Barnes and Saunders, along with three-star linebacker/defensive end Jamar Jackson, who officially visited Virginia Tech last week, made official visits to Louisville to watch the Cardinals, 31-7, win over Miami last month.

"The reception has been great (from recruits)," Petrino said. "The national TV games and the Miami win are certainly something that everyone recognizes. Now we just need to keep going and keep battling in recruiting. One thing is you get in a different pool (of recruits) and it's a lot more competitive and you're going to take a lot more shots."

Petrino proved last season that his program was strong enough to venture outside the state of Kentucky to sign highly-touted prospects from Alabama and Florida, including five-star defensive end Deantwan Whitehead from Birmingham, Alabama, who spurned Alabama and Auburn to sign with the Cards.

Continuing to win – and climbing toward the top of the national polls – could help Petrino land standouts like Louisiana's Davis, South Carolina's Barnes, North Carolina's Saunders and Virginia's Jackson.

"We've got to keep going and keep building momentum," Petrino said.

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