Louisville Football has been blazing on the 2021 recruiting trail. Despite a worldwide pandemic, they are cooking in the recruiting world. Today, they added yet more sizzle to the class as 3 Star CB Rance Conner joined the flock.
The 5’10 173 lbs CB chose UofL over offers from Florida, Florida State, LSU, South Carolina, Syracuse, and Kentucky, among others. He is ranked the 787th best prospect overall and the 67th best at his position according to 247sports. Quarterbacks Coach Frank Ponce was Conner’s primary recruiter while Head Coach Satterfield and Defensive Coordinator/Cornerbacks Coach Bryan Brown were also pivotal in his recruitment.
Conner is from Miami, FL and plays for Booker T. Washington High School. His highlights show a CB that is versatile. He is equally adept at playing press or off coverage. Conner can line up against smaller, quicker slot receivers or bigger receivers on the outside. He can play zone or man coverage. Conner is good at play recognition and uses his eyes to help him read and bait QBs before jumping the route of the receiver and making a play on the football. Conner is very good at catching the football. He can go up and get it as well as make shoestring catches. His speed and quick twitch muscles helps makes him adept at breaking on routes. He hits hard, tackles well, and isn’t afraid to help stop the opposition’s running attack.
Conner, like the other defensive players in this class, has a very high football IQ and appears to really coachable. Coach Satterfield mentioned that he wanted smart guys in the classroom because it usually transfers onto the football field, Conner fits that mold. That football IQ is on display when he is able to recognize plays, read a QB’s eyes, and break on the route.
The coaching staff has made a priority in going after playmakers in the secondary. As a junior Conner was credited with 7 interceptions and just about all of them were as impressive as the last. Louisville as a team had seven total interceptions as a team last season. His ability to catch is why Conner had so many interceptions. He has a good catch radius and the athleticism to go up and high point the ball. His hands allow him to corral interceptions that are high or low. If Conner wasn’t such a weapon defensively, he could be a WR.
I like Conner in zone coverage off the line of scrimmage a lot. The reason is because of his ability to read a QB’s eyes and recognize plays. This coverage allows him to react quickly by jumping the route. Quite a few of Conner’s interceptions were him jumping routes. If he can’t get his hands on the football, Conner can lay the smackdown on the receiver.
Conner can play press coverage as well. He’s definitely not a finesse CB. His physicality and strength allow him to really get a good punch at the line of scrimmage and knock the WR off their route, disrupting the timing. He uses his speed and fluid hips to immediately get going downfield and be in position to make a play on the ball. Playing this coverage also allows him to help in the run game.
Speaking of helping in the run game, that is something Conner does well. His play recognition and tackling abilities shine here. Because of his ability to quickly process information on the field, he can recognize run just after the snap. This allows him to break into the backfield and avoid the WR’s block attempt. Once there, he gets low to tackle the often bigger RB. He always looks to wrap up and doesn’t just hit with his shoulder.
Conner’s ability to play both the slot and on the outside makes him very valuable. It’s not often you can get a CB that can slide over to the slot. While playing in the slot, Conner almost plays like a S. He can go step-for-step with those slot receivers and knock the ball down or intercept it, but the majority of the time he’s playing more of a zone and reading the QB’s eyes. This allows him to jump routes and intercept the pass. When he’s on the outside, Conner can push around the wideout disrupting the route. Then he can get downfield to make play on the ball. He really likes to bait the QB when he’s lined up on the outside. Quite a few interceptions he looks as if he’s playing man, but will drop off and break on underneath routes for interceptions. His ability to play the slot or on the outside means he can theoretically be matched up with the opposing team’s best receiver wherever they line up.
Conner’s tackling is amazing. This young man is as sure a tackler at the CB position as I have seen. He doesn’t just get guys to the ground, though. He likes to punish them. His hits look like they hurt a lot. His high school likes to use him to blitz from the slot. I think UofL could use him in some of their patented corner blitzes to sack the QB or stop a strong running game.
Rance Conner is a CB that has elite potential. His size and skills make him a unique prospect. It’s no wonder so many high profile schools were after Conner. There is a definite chance Conner can grow into a star. Time will tell, but with his skills and the coaching he will receive at Louisville, the NFL is a future possibility for him. The fact UofL beat out schools like LSU, Florida, and Florida State that have placed numerous CBs in the NFL says a lot. The Cards got themselves yet another high level playmaker in the secondary for 2021.
With Conner’s commitment, UofL now has 10 commits for the 2021 class. The class is ranked 29th nationally and 6th in the ACC according to 247sports. This class is shaping up to be a great one and we haven’t even hit June. Great work by the coaching staff.