Louisville recruits will begin signing early

National Signing Day is one of the most exciting days of the year for college football fans. It's also exciting for the prospects who will sign binding national letters of intent, effectively ending the grueling recruiting process.

For months, prospects have been bombarded by phone calls from reporters and coaches on a daily basis wanting to know the latest thoughts on their recruitments. Most have taken several official visits, traveled all over the country and had multiple in-home visits with college coaches trying to persuade them to play for "State U."

Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe has assembled an impressive first recruiting class that currently ranks #26 in the Scout.com national rankings when adjusted for per player rankings. Most of the prospects who will sign with Louisville today are excited to see their recruitments finally come to an end.

One of those players, junior college standout Woodny Turenne, might be the most naturally gifted prospect in Louisville's 2007 recruiting class. The 6-1, 185-pound Turenne is one of the fastest players in the nation, consistently running sub-4.3 forty's.

Dale Martin

"I'll be signing with Louisville tomorrow at 2:30," said Turenne, perhaps the nation's top JUCO prospect. "I'm excited to sign with Louisville and finally get the process over with. The whole recruiting process was a little tiring, but I learned a lot from talking to all the coaches."

Kragthorpe and the Louisville coaches will be excited to see four-star Illinois running back Dale Martin's fax arrive at the U of L football complex this morning. The 5-11, 195-pound Martin averaged 8 yards per carry while rushing for more than 1,600 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior at Bolingbrook High.

"I'm excited to be a Louisville Cardinal and start a new chapter in my career," Martin said.

Like Turenne, California junior college star Chaz Thompson figures to make an immediate impact in the Louisville secondary next season. The 6-1, 195-pound Thompson also has lightening-like 4.3 speed and could factor in as a return man.

"I'll be signing with Louisville in the morning because I really liked the people in Louisville and the academic program," Thompson said. "We are going to have a little press conference at 11 o'clock (PST) our time, but I'll fax my letter of intent to Louisville at 11 o'clock Kentucky time.

One prospect, 6-2, 200-pound Bilal Powell, just wants to get to Louisville and get things going. Powell ran for nearly 2,000 yards as a senior at Lake Gibson (FL) High, but will likely play cornerback in college.

Bilal Powell

"I'll sign with Louisville (Wednesday) at 9:15," Powell said. "I'm just ready to get up there and begin playing."

While Powell figures to redshirt next season, Turenne, Martin and Thompson will be given every opportunity to help Louisville defend their Big East title and pursue a national championship next season.

In fact, the opportunity to play for a nationally ranked program with legitimate hope to compete for a BCS championship in 2007 is one of the main reasons Louisville was able to beat out schools like Florida, Tennessee and California for Turenne, Martin and Thompson.

"I think we can play in the national championship game next season," said Thompson, who made seven interceptions in only six games at cornerback last season. "I'm excited about playing for Louisville. I'll get to Louisville in the summer. They want me to play cornerback and return kicks and punts."

"I think it's a good class and I'm thankful to be a part of it," added Turenne. "I felt good with the players and the environment at Louisville. And they have a great program."

Chaz Thompson

Not only is Martin an accomplished player on the field, he's been helping Louisville off of it – attempting to persuade his friend, three-star Ohio safety C.J. Peake, to sign with the Cardinals today.

"I think the class is really looking good," said Martin, who will sign with Louisville during a 9 a.m. ceremony at Bolingbrook High. "I'm hoping (C.J. signs with) Louisville so we can be roommates. He knows I want him to come to Louisville."

For Thompson, signing his national letter of intent with Louisville means that he can get back to a more normal life, at least for the next few months.

"I'm happy to have the recruiting process over with. Now I can focus on class work," Thompson said.

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