C.J. Peake looking like an impact freshman

Louisville returns a lot of talent and experience at safety this season. So where does that leave true freshman free safety C.J. Peake? Can the 6-2, 210 pound former high school All-American crack the depth chart in the secondary?

Even with the loss of Brandon Sharp, Louisville still has plenty of returning depth and talent at safety.

For starters, there is Jon Russell and Latarrius Thomas. Russell, who has six career interceptions, has made nine career starts, while Thomas appears to have the free safety position locked down after making nine starts as a true freshman last season.

Behind Russell and Thomas, veterans Deon Palmer and Richard Raglin, and redshirt freshman Brandon Heath, figure to provide solid depth. Where does all of that talent and depth leave a talented true freshman like C.J. Peake? Perhaps in the mix for immediate playing time.

Peake, a former high school All-American from Trotwood, Ohio, has made a big impression with the Louisville coaches at free safety during the first week of preseason camp.

"I've been pleased with C.J. Peake," said safety coach Mike Mallory. "He's a young man that's just come in and joined us and I think he's got good promise down the road."

Last Saturday, during Louisville's last open practice of the preseason, Peake put on a show during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 scrimmage situations. Mallory described one particular play that caught his attention:

"He made a heck of play on the sideline coming from the middle of the field which you usually don't see that from young kids," Mallory said. "It was just a good read on the quarterback's eyes and a really good break on the ball."

Listed at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Peake is an impressive physical specimen. Besides those advantageous physical traits, Peake also has good instincts and understanding for the game.

"He's got size and has a good knack for getting to the football and that's what you really like about a guy on the back end," Mallory said. "He's got a good feel for breaking on the ball."

There's no question Peake has the talent to develop into an impact player down the road. Whether or not he's able to crack the depth chart and see game action this season, though, remains to be seen.

"We'll have to see how he continues to learn and develop this preseason and just kind of see how things are," Mallory said. "He certainly has the tools to be a guy that could be a good player here and make an impact. But when that happens is a matter of a couple things - him and how he develops and learns, and how those other guys solidify the position."

There is also some thought that Peake could eventually drop down and become a big-play outside linebacker. Mallory, in his first season at U of L, hopes Peake finds a permanent home in the defensive secondary.

"Coaching him, I'd like to see him develop and I'd love to be able to coach him because I think he has talent," said Mallory. "But he's a good football player, period. So where ever he's at I think he's going to make a good impact while he's here."

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