You can’t teach speed. Neither can you teach heart, dedication, will power and desire. Florida is synonymous with athletes, especially football athletes as the Midwest is known for churning out basketball players.
The state of Florida has enough talent to supply all of their major universities with elite athletes (5&4 stars) and still sprinkle some pretty good 3 stars (Lamar Jackson) to other states.
Fortunately for Louisville, we’ve been able to get a few of those really good players (Nate Harris, Bilal Powell, Johnny Patrick, Andrell Smith, J.R Russell and Brandon Heath) who were standouts during their time in red and black. Depending on who you ask, the aforementioned players along with Howard Schnellenberger helped create the pipeline from Florida to Louisville. A pipeline Louisville enjoyed during Bobby Petrino’s first stint in Louisville and that Steve Kragthorpe used poorly.
Along came Charlie, we all know of Charlie Strong’s success in the state of Florida both on and off the gridiron. Charlie Strong not only reopened the South Florida-Louisville pipeline, he upgraded it. Charlie was able to lure players such as Michaelee Harris (childhood friend and teammate of Teddy Bridgewater and Eli Rogers) and Corvin Lamb of Miami Northwestern high school in his first recruiting class at Louisville.
Arguably the two biggest games and wins in the Charlie Strong era were against The University of Florida (Sugar Bowl) and The University of Miami (Russell Athletic Bowl). In 2012 Louisville destroyed UF, while having at least 20 players from the state of Florida. Players like Keith Kelsey Jr, Jermaine Brooks, John Miller and Terrell Floyd. In the 2013 embarrassment of UM, Louisville had an unbelievable 23 players from South Florida alone. Players such as Gerod Holliman (2014 Jim Thorpe Award winner), Andrew Johnson, James Burgess, Eli Rogers and of course Teddy Bridgewater ( 3rd in UofL in career passing yards and passing touchdowns).
There is something special about football players from the state of Florida. Maybe it’s the fact that they can play all year long, maybe because they seem to eat sleep and breathe football. Just maybe it’s the iron sharpens iron affect and the pride and heart that they play with. Fact is Louisville is better when they utilize the Florida Louisville pipeline early and often.
“I think the guys back home just see that (passion) and see that we’re successful here. That probably gives them the motivation to come up.” Eli Rogers( 4th in career receptions) said in an interview with the Miami herald December 26th 2013.
As in complete contrast, Louisville now has less than 10 players from South Florida on the roster, which some can point to Louisville’s recent stint at mediocrity and losing to teams that they shouldn’t be losing to. Some help from down south does appear to be on the way though. Louisville currently has 12 commits from the state of Florida, four of whom are from the Miami area.
-Chatarius “tutu” Atwell, Chandler Jones, Robert Hicks, Yasir Abdullah and Ray Malcolm (2019) are all from the 305 (Miami).
-Louisville and fellow ROC Boys (Chandler Jones and Robert Hicks) may still be actively recruiting consensus 4 star back James Cook (UGA commit).
-Nik Bonitto, who’s also a consensus 4 star DE/OLB is also a high priority target for Louisville. Bonitto who’s being coached by former Miami Dolphins DE HOF Jason Taylor, is also teammates with current Louisville commits Dejmi Dumervil Jean and Trenell Troutman at St. Thomas Aquinas.
Let’s hope that the Louisville coaches can continue to have success in the state of Florida and add both or at least one of those stalwarts in this class. Charlie Strong said it best, “Louisville presents a home away from home atmosphere for Florida players, the city of Louisville is like a family and a brotherhood.” #FloridaVille