Jurich calls recruiting efforts remarkable

University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich described head coach Steve Kragthorpe's performance on the recruiting trails the past few weeks as remarkable...

It has yet to be a month since University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich introduced Steve Kragthorpe as the school's 20th head football coach. Kragthorpe's life has remained in overdrive, with flights to destinations across the country, from the moment he was handed the reigns to the Cardinals program. On Wednesday, the hard work came to a fruition when Kragthorpe introduced 15 new additions to the football roster and with an average prospect rating of 3.13, the 2007 recruiting class rates among the best in the country.

"It's been about three and a half weeks," Jurich said of the short period of time that Kragthorpe and his new coaching staff had to recruit. "It's very exciting to say the least. It was very late to lose a coach and to replace him with someone of quality and to see the job he has done is remarkable."

Seemingly cornerstones to a strong class from top to bottom are the two local standouts, Victor Anderson, a 1st Team All-State selection from St. Xavier and Mr. Football, Doug Beaumont of Male. While Beaumont committed early to Louisville and then quickly reaffirmed his pledge after the departure of Bobby Petrino, Kragthorpe's presence was a key factor in Anderson's decision to become a Cardinal.

"When you get the marquee players out of the city it says volumes about your program," said Jurich. "(Coach Kragthorpe) was able to come in here and change Vic Anderson's mind. I think that once Vic had a chance to spend time with him that it was a big help. As soon as Steve got here he met with Doug right away and eased all of his tensions."

Louisville also reached to the northwest with this recruiting class, signing tight end Michael Fennerty of Olympia, Washington. Fennerty, who Kragthorpe compared to current Cardinal Gary Barnidge, turned down scholarship offers from Missouri, Tulsa and others for the opportunity to play for U of L's new coach.

"We were able to do that because of Steve's connections out west," Jurich said of the long-distance signee. "He's someone that I think everyone will really like when they get a chance to see him play."

Among the trio of standout junior college additions, which all are likely to play key roles for the Cardinals this fall, is former Miami linebacker Willie Williams. Due to infractions committed during his high school days and his decision to transfer from the Hurricanes to West Los Angeles C.C., Williams has and will draw the eye of the national media.

LB Willie Williams
"Willie is a kid that we wouldn't have taken last year," Jurich told InsideTheVille.com on Wednesday. "He called us this summer. Bobby called me while I was in Virginia Beach with my twins at a field hockey tournament and said that Willie wanted to transfer out of Miami and that we were one of the schools and we said that we weren't going to do it."

While it initially appeared bleak that the former top-rated high school linebacker prospect would land at Louisville, fate seemed to intervene just a few months later.

"After the West Virginia game, I received an email and a call from Craig Austin, who had played for me at Northern Arizona - he was my quarterback," Jurich explained. "He's a fantastic human being. He's been a deputy sheriff for 18 years and he's also been the head football coach (at West Los Angeles C.C.) and he told me that he had a player that he really wanted me to look hard at. He said that he knew that we had a great track record at the university working with kids like this - whether it's Nate Harris, Jonta Woodard, Rod Council or J.R. Russell - we helped those kids make a great turn-around. (Austin) told me that he was one of the best kids that he has ever coached and that talent-wise he is the best kid he's ever coached - and he's had Chad Johnson and Steve Smith on the same team."

"With Willie there were a lot of question marks, but we talked to a lot of people and did a lot of research," Jurich continued. "We did more research on Willie then anybody has ever done on him and we found out some things about him and that most of his trouble came at 17 years old and before."

Part of that research was visiting with Williams during the recruiting process.

"He and his parents came in," said Jurich. "We had them all come up and I was very impressed with him.

Despite only signing 15 student-athletes in this class, Jurich is pleased with the talent level from top to bottom.

"We knew this was going to be a smaller class going in," he said. "It didn't matter if it was Bobby or Steve coaching here, we knew this would be a smaller group of kids. While our numbers are low, when you look at this class you see quality and quality always out-does quantity. This is a great class."

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