Marcel Benson out for season

It was expected, now it's official. Marcel Benson, the projected started for Louisville at right guard, will miss the 2007 season. How is Benson doing? Will he play again? Who will take his place? has the latest.

Steve Kragthorpe announced Wednesday afternoon that Marcel Benson, a projected starter at right offensive guard, will be forced to miss the upcoming season because of a heart condition.

Benson, who rose to the top of the depth chart at his position last spring before suffering from an irregular heart-beat, would have been a major contributor on the offensive front this season after playing in all 13 games last season as a junior.

"Marcel Benson will not be able to play this year and so we're going to seek a medical redshirt – a sixth year – for him," Kragthorpe said. "So we'll apply for that."

As Louisville prepares to begin preseason camp Thursday, Kragthorpe said one of his top priorities during the next month will be to build depth, particularly on the offensive line.

"We certainly have some candidates who we think can be very, very proficient for us at that right guard spot," Kragthorpe said. "So certainly that will be a spot that we look at throughout the course of training camp."

Mike Donoghue is the
front-runner to replace
Marcel Benson.

Mike Donoghue, a 6-foot-3, 300-pound junior from northern Kentucky, figures to be the front-runner to replace Benson at right guard. And while overall depth up front is a major concern heading into preseason camp, Kragthorpe feels like the other four spots along the offensive line are pretty solid.

"Coming out of spring practice we had four linemen that had basically solidified starting spots with George, Breno, Eric and Danny," Kragthorpe said.

Starting center Eric Wood, one of the team's most important leaders, said he expects a fierce competition for the right guard slot in the next few weeks leading up to Louisville's first game later this month against Murray State.

"We have a lot of guys fighting for that spot right now," Wood said. "I think Mike Donoghue is probably the front-runner and he's doing a great job there, but we've got a lot of guys competing with him for that spot and they're not going to let him take it."

Benson, who has already had two surgeries this summer, faces another next month. Wood said the Cardinals are keeping their teammate in their prayers.

"Physically he's trying to recover from his first couple surgeries and he's going to have another one September 20," Wood said. "We just have to keep him in our prayers and hopefully one day he'll be able to play football again. But I told him not even to think about that right now – just try and stay healthy and stick with it.

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