Friday, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Sharpe became the latest player to commit to Charlie Strong's Cardinals.
"One of the main reasons is that he [liked] the coaching staff," said Willie Sharpe, Zay's grandfather. "Louisville is a good school and they've always had a good football team. They've had a good program and now with the staff Coach Strong has put together he liked that. He talked to several of their coaches and he liked their personalities. They talked about graduating their players from school and they put a lot of things in place to help their athletes. Everybody doesn't make it to the [NFL] so a college education is very important to us."
Sharpe attended Louisville's spring game last month and, according to his high school coach, came away impressed with the Cardinals. Sharpe had an offer from Georgia Southern, and was getting heavy attention from North Carolina.
"He was impressed with the facilities," Clint Ashmore said. "Coach Carter, who is recruiting him, has made a strong impression on Zay. That's the first trip he's made and he really liked it. Louisville is on him pretty strong."
Sharpe appears to be the big running back Louisville is looking for, especially with Bilal Powell set to graduate after next season. The Cardinals have plenty of scat-back types with Victor Anderson and Jeremy Wright, but need someone like Sharpe who can pound defenses with power and strength.
"One of the things that is a concern for Louisville is they have some smaller scat-back type guys and they're looking for a big body," Ashmore said. "He's a good pass protector and pass receiver. So he can match up with most guys that bring the edge pressure, defensive ends and outside linebackers."
Sharpe, who had a 69-yard touchdown run as a junior, also runs track.
"We're predominantly a passing team so we're one-back and, for the most part, Zay handles most of the running chores," Ashmore said. "The thing that makes him attractive is he's a big body. He's 6'2, 210 and is in the 4.5 range in the forty. He's got the ability to make guys miss and he can beat guys with speed but he's not a water-bug type with a lot of shake. He gets downhill fast, makes his cut and he's up in the second level."
Sharpe is Louisville's 12th commitment in the 2011 recruiting class.