Rated the No. 33 offensive tackle prospect nationally by Scout.com, Benavides turned down a host of BCS-caliber offers to sign with Louisville in December. Benavides, 6'4, 295, backed out of a verbal commitment to Ole Miss to sign with the Cardinals. He was a dominating lineman in Texas and was considered one of the top prospects in that state. Benavides allowed only one sack his final two years in high school and recorded more than 200 pancakes during his career.
OFFENSIVE MVP: Darius Ashley, RB, St. Xavier (Cincinnati, OH)
Rated the No. 22 prospect in Ohio, Ashley led his team to a 15-0 record, the Ohio Division I state title and a Top 5 national ranking by USA Today as a senior. Ashley, who rushed for 1,584 yards, despite missing four games, and 17 touchdowns this season. He set an Ohio state championship game record with 271 yards and also scored two touchdowns in that contest. Ashley turned down Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia and Boston College to sign with the Cardinals. Ashley's biggest contribution, however, was helping Louisville land two of his friends and high school teammates: Stephon Ball and Greg Scruggs.
DEFENSIVE MVP: Dexter Heyman, DE, Male (Louisville, KY)
Rated the No. 4 prospect in Kentucky, Heyman enjoyed a big senior season at Male where he earned first team All-State honors. At 6'4, 225-pounds, Heyman, rated the No. 36 DE prospect in the nation by Scout.com, could develop into an outstanding defensive end for Louisville because of his size, strength and athleticism. The younger brother of Louisville senior defensive tackle Earl Heyman, Dexter may have even more upside than his older sibling.
GAME-CHANGER: Chris Philpott, K, St. Pius X (Atlanta, GA)
Philpott, a strong-legged kicker, is the heir-apparent to All-American Art Carmody. Philpott has field goal range beyond 5o yards and connected from 51 yards out as a high school senior. Philpott possesses a strong, accurate leg, connected on 12-15 field goals this season. He's also a dangerous weapon on kick-offs, evidenced by sending 53-57 kickoffs into the end zone as senior. If it's a close, late game situation, Philpott could provide the winning margin with his strong, accurate leg.
TOP SLEEPER: Greg Scruggs, DE, St. Xavier (Cincinnati, OH)
Before the start of the '07 season, no one knew who Greg Scruggs was. That's because he played in the band instead of the football team. But Scruggs made a major mark in his only season of high school football. Though he began the season as an unknown, the 6'5, 235-pound Scruggs collected several big-time scholarship offers from Tennessee, Michigan State, NC State, Wake Forest and others because of his play during the season. Scruggs is long, has big-time athleticism and could become a pass rushing force of the edge with more strength training and experience. He's the top sleeper in Louisville's class and a major addition for a squad in need of help getting pressure on the quarterback from the defensive end position.
SIGNING DAY SURPRISE: Zach Stoudt, QB, Coffman (Dublin, OH)
Stoudt made a surprising decision to back out of a verbal commitment with Pittsburgh only hours before National Signing Day. The No. 25 quarterback prospect nationally, Stoudt threw for 3,545 yards and 34 touchdowns as senior. Stoudt makes good decisions with the football, has good field vision and is a very accurate passer, completing 65 percent of his throws this season. Stoudt, 6'5, 220, needs to improve his mobility in the pocket but should compete with Matt Simms for the starting QB job after Hunter Cantwell departs next season.
ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Kion Wilson, LB, Pearl River (Jacksonville, FL)
A four-star junior college prospect, Wilson made an official visit to Louisville in December but the Cardinals couldn't persuade him to join the fold. That's too bad, because Wilson would have been the perfect replacement for Lamar Myles at the middle linebacker position. Instead, the 6'0, 230 Wilson signed with South Florida and Louisville will have to deal with him when the Bulls visit PJCS next year.