Who is Louisville's top prospect? Which player can break a game open with a big play? Who's the top sleeper?
Here, in our estimation, is the cream of the Cardinals recruiting crop.
TOP PROSPECT: Willie Williams, LB, West Los Angeles C.C.
Williams should step in at Louisville and make an immediate impact on a defense that lost several key performers from a 12-1 team that won the Big East title and the Orange Bowl. The 6-3, 225-pound junior college transfer dominated the high school and JUCO ranks . Williams and junior Malik Jackson should form one of the top linebacker duo's in the nation in 2007 and anchor a Louisville defense that will be challenged by some outstanding offenses next season.
OFFENSIVE MVP: Matt Simms, QB, Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, NJ)
Simms is the quarterback of the future – plain and simple. Like Brian Brohm, Simms has the pedigree and intangibles to help Louisville compete at the national level for years to come. A U.S. Army All-American, Simms has a strong arm and can make all the necessary throws, including the tough, deep sideline patterns. More importantly, Simms is a fierce competitor and knows how to win, guiding his high school team to an impressive 34-2 record the past three years.
DEFENSIVE MVP: Woodny Turenne, CB, College of the Sequoias
Louisville needed an immediate replacement for All-Big East cornerback William Gay and landed the nation's top junior college player. Turenne has world-class speed (he's been clocked at 4.28 in the forty) and proved in the JUCO ranks that he could lock down wide receivers, intercepting 13 passes and breaking up more than 25 passes the past two seasons. Turenne provides tremendous versatility because he possesses the size to defend taller receivers and the speed to match up with the smaller ones. Oh, and he'll also knock your head off.
GAME-BREAKER: Victor Anderson, RB, St. Xavier (Louisville)
If Steve Kragthorpe needs a big play in the future, he'll likely dial the fast and elusive Anderson's number. The leading rusher in Louisville Saint Xavier history (he rushed for over 4,000 career yards), Anderson, using his 4.4 speed, can take it the distance any time he touches the ball. What makes Anderson such a game-breaking threat is that he can make big plays either rushing or catching passes out of the backfield. What a comparison? Think Steve Slaton. There was a reason the Mountaineers tried hard to land the 5-9, 170-pound burner.
TOP SLEEPER: Bilal Powell, RB/DB, Lake Gibson (Lakeland, FL)
Who is Bilal Powell? He's the two-star guy that signed with Louisville after averaging 9 yards per carry while rushing for 1,960 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior at Lake Gibson HS. Powell played just one season at running back for Lake Gibson, and the Cardinals signed the athletic 6-0, 200-pound sleeper to play defensive back. So how did a player with Powell's stats, credentials (he's rated the #51 prospect in Florida) and athleticism (he has 4.5 speed) emerge from a football-hotbed like Lakeland under the radar? Good question.
SIGNING DAY BONUS: C.J. Peake, FS, Trotwood-Madison (Dayton, OH)
It's hard not to go with Florida linebacker Patrick Grant, but even Kragthorpe called Peake, the #33 safety prospect in the nation, a "signing day bonus." To be sure, Grant, who made 85 tackles and 15 sacks as senior, was an excellent signing day addition for the Cardinals. But the Louisville coaches believe Peake could emerge as the "quarterback" of the defense in the future. Don't be surprised if Peake sees significant action in the secondary next season.
ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Luther Davis, DE, West-Monroe (West Monroe, LA)
The 6-4, 265-pound Davis would have looked nice opposite Peanut Whitehead on Louisville's defensive line. But while the U.S. Army All-American DE strongly considered Louisville for much of the fall after making an official visit in September, the Cardinals couldn't pry Davis from the SEC when it was all said and done. Davis committed to LSU last month, but instead signed with Alabama on National Signing Day.