Sunshine State Connections For The Cardinals

When coach Charlie Strong and the Louisville Cardinals invade Tampa Bay to square off against the South Florida Bulls (2-4,2-0) on Saturday afternoon, there will be several similarities and connections between the two AAC squads.

TAMPA BAY, FL---With hundreds of skilled prospects scattered all throughout the Sunshine State from Tallahassee all the way down the panhandle, the state of Florida has been a recruiting hotbed for dozens of programs. From the 2013 recruiting class through the 2015 class, has gave 14 prospects from the state of Florida a 5-star ranking respectively.

One school that is filled with Florida talent from top to bottom is the Louisville Cardinals. Led by former Miami Northwestern quarterback and Heisman hopeful Teddy Bridgewater, the Cardinals have an astounding 39 players on their roster from the Sunshine State. USF defensive tackle Todd Chandler and Bridgewater were teammates at Miami Northwestern, while current Bulls running back coach Telly Lockette starred for Northwestern as well before becoming the offensive coordinator at the school from 2003-2006 helping them to a state title in 2006.

Todd Chandler, known for his great character and personality, used to call the Heisman hopeful Bridgewater "Teddy Heisman" while they were teammates in high school.

"Teddy's real smart - he's brilliant," Chandler said. "We used to call him Teddy Heisman, but we're going to end those dreams as well."

Current Louisville coach Charlie Strong was one of Urban Meyer's ace recruiters while in Gainesville at the University of Florida. Several high school coaches in the state know of and respect the 53-year old coach from Batesville, Arkansas.

Several Cardinal pass catchers have made a significant impact in 2013 from Florida. Some of those are Bradenton native Damian Copeland, who's the second leader receiver with 28 catches for 423 yards and three touchdowns, Miami native Eli Rodgers, and Palm Beach Gardens' standouts Gerald Christian and Robert Clark.

The series between the two AAC teams is deadlocked at 5-5, with the Cardinals sneaking by the Bulls in a 27-25 win last year at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Out of the last five games, three of them have been decided by four points or less or in overtime.

Will South Florida improve to 3-0 in the American Athletic Conference? Time will tell. USF is 4-1 against the Cardinals when they play in Tampa Bay and the game will kickoff at 12:00 PM on ESPN2.

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