By Sam Draut–
With limited scholarships available because of the mass amount of returning lettermen, the University of Louisville football team chose quality over quantity for their 2013 recruiting class.
“You always want to raise the bar,” said head coach Charlie Strong. “Each year we try to make this program better and that’s what you talk to the players about when you come into this program. Not only do we want to see you raise your level of performance, we also want the standard to be raised within this program.”
On National Signing Day, the Cardinals announced 17 signees. Strong’s class ranks nationally No. 56 by Scout.com and No. 57 by Rivals.com.
Louisville’s recruits have an average ranking of three out of five stars, which is the second highest average in Strong’s four recruiting classes.
“I’m very pleased with the 2013 recruiting class. Our coaching staff and our support staff did an outstanding job putting together an excellent class,” Strong said.
The class does not lack star power. Trinity wide receiver James Quick signed with the Cards after committing a month earlier at the Army All-American game. He’s ranked the third best receiver with five stars on Scout.com. Quick is ranked No. 79 on ESPN’s top 150.
“On the offensive side, getting a big name like James Quick enhanced our recruiting early. He committed during the Army All-American game, which gave notoriety not only to our program, but also it was at the right time after the big Sugar Bowl win,” Strong said.
Quick was not the only high profile recruit Strong landed within the state.Lexington Catholic quarterback Kyle Bolin signed after being committed for more than a year. Bolin ranked the fourteenth best quarterback with four stars on Scout.com. He also is ranked as the fourth best player in the state of Kentucky by Rivals.com. Bolin tore his ACL during his senior season and expected to redshirt, but he has remained loyal during his 18-month commitment status.
“Kyle Bolin coming out of Lexington is an outstanding quarterback. That’s what you expect from that quarterback position: someone who’s a leader and that’s what he does. If you look at it, he called a number of recruits; he became our leader guy during recruiting,” Strong said.
The Cardinals added another quarterback to provide depth to the position. Brett Nelson is a three star junior college transfer from Chula Vista, Calif. The left handed signal caller enrolled at Louisville in January.
Defense was the primary emphasis in the 2013 class, highlighted by Richard Benjamin, a four star cornerback from Tampa, Fla. He’s ranked No. 247 on ESPN’s top 300.
“We were able to fulfill our needs, especially directed on the defensive side of the ball,” Strong said. “We were able to recruit five defensive backs, two linebackers and three defensive linemen: ten players on the defensive side of the football.”
The Cards brought in De’Asian Richardson from Jacksonville, Fla., who ranks nationally as the No. 36 defensive tackle, choosing Louisville over Florida, Oklahoma and Alabama. Kyle Shortridge is another defensive tackle from Florida, ranked nationally as the No. 49 defensive tackle on Rivals.com. Finesse Middleton is another defensive lineman. He enrolled at Louisville in January to participate in spring practices.
Charles Williams from Hialeah, Fla. is a four star defensive back as ranked by ESPN. With the addition of three star defensive back, Terrence Ross from Apopka, Fla., and Richard Benjamin, the Cardinals restocked a thinning secondary.
Though Louisville signed its 17 committed players, the Cardinals missed out on two targets potentially interested. Four star defensive back Lamar Robbins remained true to South Florida, while four star linebacker, Jermaine Grace, choose Miami over Louisville.
Still, the 2013 recruiting class sets the Cardinals with a solid foundation for the future; the signees come to Louisville with the football program reaching to new heights. The program comes off a Sugar Bowl win, a move to the ACC and a Heisman candidate currently running the offense.
“Even though this class is small in numbers, these players will make a great contribution to this program in the near future,” Strong said.
Photo by Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal