The defense last season was very good until the last 3 games. Ultimately, it may have cost Todd Grantham his job. With Grantham gone there will be a lot of changes on the defensive side of the ball. Losing the NFL talent of DeAngelo Brown, Keith Kelsey, Josh-Harvey Clemons and Devonte Fields is also another concern but can be an opportunity for some of the newcomers. Here are 5 guys that could make an immediate impact in the 2017 season.
- Peter Sirmon (DC) – I know he is not a player but he is the most important piece of the defense and he absolutely must make an immediate impact or he will be packing his bags. I believe Louisville is now an upper level football school and no longer a “stepping stone” school. We didn’t need to hire the next great coach, we needed to hire the already great coach. I’ll give him an opportunity before I make judgement on the hire but my leash is short with him. Grantham wasn’t terrible overall so the bar is set pretty high for Mr. Sirmon. I like what he is saying about not having a particular style and that he will adapt to the personnel. That being said I think his hand is forced to play the 3-4 defense because of the lack of depth on the D-line. All eyes are on Mr. Sirmon and the pressure to provide results quickly is immense.
- C.J. Avery (S) – Of all the defensive players in the 2017 recruiting class, C.J. has the best chance to work his way into the starting line-up. I believe he will at least make the 2 deep spot on the depth chart. Avery is an Under Armour All-American who enrolled at Louisville in January and will be participating in spring practice. The 6’1″ 210 pound Avery is a ball hawk who is an incredible athlete. He also played quarterback in high school where he threw for 633 yards and 10 touchdowns, rushed for 438 yards and five touchdowns on 63 carries. He plays the “rover” position that Josh-Harvey Clemons played so well. I’m really excited to watch this kid for the next 3 years before he takes his talents to the NFL.
- Chris Taylor-Yamanoha (CB) – Chris redshirted last season and was a 4 star recruit as a receiver. Upon arriving at Louisville, the coaches decided to move him to corner. Along with receiver, he also played corner at Rancho Cotate High School, where he made 31 tackles and seven interceptions in 2015. I’m not sure what to expect from Chris but he and freshman Russ Yeast will push Trumaine Washington and Shaq Wiggins for playing time on the corner opposite of Jaire Alexander.
- Trevon Young (LB) – We all saw flashes of greatness in 2015 where he had 8.5 sacks before suffering a dislocated and fractured hip in the Music City bowl. No, he isn’t a newcomer but he did not play at all in 2016 while recovering from his hip injury. The original timetable for a return was 8-12 months. If he comes back anywhere close to where he left off then he would be a great replacement for Devonte Fields. I think it might take him a few games to get back up to speed but I am hopeful he will be a major contributor to the ACC’s top rated defense next season.
- Jakson Wine (K) – I know kicker is special teams but we need a kicker who can kick the ball to the end zone to help the defense with starting position. Jakson is rated the No. 1 kickoff specialist nationally by ProKicker.com and is rated the no. 6 kicker overall. His kickoffs average 70 yards. Jakson expects to come in and compete for field goals as well. At North Oldham high school, Jakson was also their top receiver with 22 catches for 533 yards and six touchdowns. I wish the Louisville native best of luck. I have been very vocal over the last few years about getting a kickoff specialist and this pleases me on multiple levels.