Five (defensive) breakout performers

With former Louisville defensive standouts Lamar Myles, Malik Jackson and Preston Smith now gone, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ron English is looking for a few new stars to emerge this season. InsideTheVille.com provides subscribers five potential defensive breakout performers for the 2008 season.

James Bryant With major depth and experience problems at linebacker, Bryant, a transfer from Miami, is a big key for Ron English's plans to turnaround Louisville's defense quickly.

Bryant, a senior, looks the part. At 6-3, 254, Bryant is a physical specimen who covers a lot of ground with his 4.5-range speed. Bryant showed during spring drills that he's a fierce hitter, can cover in the open field and has the ability to overpower blockers.


Mitchell could be poised for a big
senior campaign.

What Bryant has to do is become more consistent and quickly pick up Ron English's schemes on defense. If he does both of those things, English would be a very happy defensive coordinator.

Maurice Mitchell Mitchell is coming off his best season as a Cardinal, recording a career-best 33 tackles, including nine tackles for loss and two sacks.

The 6-foot-3, 272 defensive end missed four games last season because of a shoulder injury. He also missed spring practice rehabbing the injury. Now healthy, Mitchell, a physical and athletic end, appears poised for a breakout senior season.

With the career-ending to Peanut Whitehead, Mitchell has enough explosiveness and ability to generate a much needed pass rush from the defensive front.

Johnny Patrick With the off-season dismissal of starting cornerback Rod Council, Patrick received major reps at corner during the spring. In the spring game, the sophomore from Deland, Florida looked like Louisville's best defensive back, making two big pass breakups.

A converted wide receiver, Patrick is one of the fastest players on the team and has extremely quick feet. As a redshirt freshman, 6-0, 184-pound Patrick made 19 tackles and one interception in nine games. He also made four starts last season, recording a career-best nine tackles against Utah and made his lone interception in his first start against NC State.


Patrick appears to be emerging as a
future star for Louisville.

Bobby Buchanan Buchanan made the transition from cornerback to safety midway through last season and never looked back. Now a senior, the 5-foot-11, 199 Buchanan appears ready to help steady Louisville's much maligned secondary.

As a junior, Buchanan found his calling at safety, finishing the 2007 season with 54 tackles – second highest on the team. But it was how Buchanan finished off his junior year that provides hope for a big senior season. In four late season contests, Buchanan recorded 11 tackles and a forced fumble against Pat White and West Virginia, made seven tackles in a win over Pittsburgh and posted six tackles against both UConn and Rutgers.

With Buchanan back, Louisville appears in good hands at the strong safety position.

L.T. Walker One of the highest rated recruits in Louisville's 2006 recruiting class, Walker is coming off his best season as a Cardinal, recording 14 tackles and three tackles for loss as a sophomore.

Now, the 6-4, 304-pound junior defensive tackle appears ready to become a dominating run-stopper for the Cardinals defense. Walker performed well during spring practice and will be counted on to provide valuable depth up front. He figures to be a key part of Louisville's three-man rotation at tackle, along with senior starters Earl Heyman and Adrian Grady.

Walker recorded a career-best six tackles in a late season loss to West Virginia last year. He also added three tackles against South Florida.


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