The past two years, Louisville has closed strong down the recruiting stretch. In 2006, the Cards added several talented recruits like Peanut Whitehead, Brandon Heath, L.T. Walker and Latarrius Thomas right before National Signing Day. Last year, Louisville closed with Patrick Grant, C.J. Peake, Victor Anderson and JUCO studs Willie Williams and Woodny Turenne.
for four-star RB Aundre Dean.
This year, after a disappointing 6-6 campaign, Louisville isn't closing as strong as they have in the recent past. In the past few weeks, the Cardinals have hosted several key prospects – mostly defensive – and didn't land commitments. Players like DE John Youboty (Marshall), LB Eteyen Edet (Maryland), SS LaVelle Larry (Georgia Southern), RB Aundre Dean (UCLA), OL T.J. Barnes (Georgia Tech), DE Justin Smith (Ole Miss), QB Tyler Bass (Maryland), CB Louis Watson (Mississippi St.), DB Shelton Johnson (Wisconsin) all made official visit to Louisville but won't be signing with Steve Kragthorpe's Cardinals today.
Those late misses – especially on defense where Louisville needs immediate help – are the difference between signing a solid class and inking a truly outstanding one.
Late misses took a toll on Louisville's 2008 recruiting class. So, too, did four players who originally made verbal commitments to the Cardinals but backed out to sign with other programs. Four-star TE Ben Cotton, three-star QB Tino Sunseri, three-star TE Ryan Wallace, and two-star CB Terrence Frederick each verbally committed to Louisville before changing their minds to play for other schools.
Cotton will sign with Nebraska where his father is an assistant to new Huskers coach Bo Pellini; Sunseri will stay home to play at Big East rival Pittsburgh where his father, Sal, was an outstanding performer; Wallace is expected to sign with Colorado; and Frederick will join several of his high school teammates at Texas A&M.
Had Louisville kept all four of those players in the fold their recruiting class would have ranked higher both nationally and in the Big East.
Cards Own Cincinnati
Cincinnati St. Xavier was the best team in Ohio and one of the elite teams nationally this year. A major highlight for Louisville: The Cards will sign three of St. Xavier's best prospects in RB Darius Ashley, TE Stephon Ball and DE Greg Scruggs.
pickup for UofL.
Ashley, a three-star running back, is ranked the No. 22 prospect in Ohio and set the Ohio state championship game record with 271 yards rushing this season. Scruggs, a three-star defensive end, played just one year of high school football but is considered a solid college prospect because of his size and athleticism. He is rated the No. 27 prospect in Ohio. Ball, a two-star tight end, is also considered a solid prospect.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Louisville's Class of '08 is heavy on junior college prospects, eight of whom have already signed and enrolled at UofL. Three-star Los Fresnos (TX) high school standout Mario Benavides also enrolled early at UofL.
While the large number of JUCO players didn't help Louisville's recruiting rankings (Scout.com discounts junior college prospects in their rankings calculations), those prospects will add depth to the Cardinals ranks and will also be able to take part in spring practice.
The Cardinals enter National Signing Day with 22 commitments, including the nine who signed letters of intent last month. The means Louisville still has 3 or 4 scholarships available to give out.
The big question of the day: Will Louisville sign any late surprises besides Ohio three-star QB Zack Stoudt, who switched his commitment from Pitt to the Cardinals Tuesday? The list of possible prospects appears to be dwindling, particularly with LaVelle Larry opting for Georgia Southern over Louisville. Cardinals fans surely are hoping the UofL coaching staff has a few hidden gems tucked away quietly and ready for unveiling on signing day.
Here's a peak at Louisville's current 2008 recruiting class:
QUARTERBACK – Zack Stoudt (Columbus, OH)
RUNNING BACK – Darius Ashley (Cincinnati, OH)
KICKER – Chris Philpott (Atlanta, GA)
*Players have already signed letters of intent and enrolled at the University of Louisville