With verbal commitments from a number of highly-rated prospects, the University of Louisville has had a strong start to the recruiting season. The Cardinal program has hosted a number of the top prospects from both in and out of state and appears to be on the verge of receiving a few more verbal pledges.
U of L assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Joe Whitt Jr., visited with InsideTheVille.com following the Cardinals Orange Bowl practice on Tuesday afternoon to provide an update on how the nation's fifth-ranked program is doing on the recruiting trails.
National Signing Day is now less than two months away. How do you feel about where the program is with recruiting at this point in the process?
"I think we're fine. We're going to sign a great class. We are going after the top guys in the country and you will win some of those and lose some of those, but we're going to have a great class. I read the message boards and I see that some people are frustrated, but signing day isn‘t until the first week of February, so you shouldn‘t get frustrated until after that. If we don‘t sign them, then be frustrated, but right now they shouldn‘t worry about a thing. We‘re doing our job, we know who we want and we‘re going to get the guys that we want."
There seem to be plenty ups and downs that come with recruiting. When you lose out on a prospect that you have been recruiting, is that something that you are able to brush aside and not let bother you?
"I have a poster in my office that has a hundred no's on it. If you are afraid to hear no you will never get the big guys that you want. If you don't try to get the big guys out there then you won't get them. This school has never gone after the top players in the country, so fans need to get used to us being told no sometimes. They can't get too excited about everybody in the world that we go after, because we will be told no sometimes. We are going into other states and going after the best players, but it's hard to get the top players out of other states. I'm not afraid to be told no. We're going to go after the best players and we're going to get our fair share of them."
Peanut Whitehead is a great example of U of L going after and succeeding for a top player in another state. You seem confident that there could be similar results with the current recruiting class.
"We will sign some great kids. Some of them that are committed elsewhere - they're not over. When I get hurt is when I recruit a kid and then he leaves his state for somewhere else. It's different if we lose a kid to an in-state school. It's hard to leave mom and grandma and they grew up loving those home state schools, but we are going into those states to get those kids. I feel like if they are willing to leave their state that we should be able to get them to Louisville."
It's been a rapid climb for U of L on the recruiting trails and clearly the on-the-field success plays a large role in that. What are some of the differences that you have noticed since you became the program's recruiting coordinator?
"We can go up against anybody in the country. When I walk into a player's house or into a school, they know that Louisville is now a top ten team every year. We now get the respect that others like Ohio State, Florida, Auburn and Alabama receive. It feels good to know that we are one of those teams that every recruit in the country knows about."
Due to scholarship numbers, this recruiting class will be smaller in numbers when compared to those from recent years. Is there a set number of scholarships that you all have available for this class?
"We really don't, but you're right, it's going to be a smaller class. We don't many left and that's one thing that people have to realize. We have a limited number this year, but the guys that we are going to get will surprise some people. We are going to have a great, great class. This class from top to bottom is probably going to be the best class that we've ever had, but it's not going to have the shear numbers that the other classes had."
In addition to the players that will sign in February, U of L will have a number of players enrolling in January that can participate in spring practice. Do you view them as an important part of this recruiting class?
"They are part of this class and they are great players. They are going to come a year more mature and ready to play. They are going to help us next year and they are players that we are counting on."