The 2021 Louisville football recruiting class has exceeded expectations, and not just in ratings. Every season, there are a handful of players that serve as the respective leaders of recruiting, but that’s not the case for the Cardinals’ class. Each of the 18 commits has done their part in connecting with not only with each other, but with prospective recruits as well. No one knows that better than the very first commitment of the class, Aaron Gunn.
The offensive lineman from Pennsylvania has been one of the most vocal leaders on social media, hyping us to his future teammates and interacting with Louisville fans. “Everyone who has committed will tell you the same thing, that all the commits already think of each other as family; this class is special and it’s turning out just how I expected,” Gunn explained. “I just want Cardnation to know that it will be a process and won’t happen in a year, but we will be competing for national titles in the future.” From an athletic standpoint, it’s very exciting, but for Gunn, it’s more than just football. The journey represents perseverance through adversity and overcoming obstacles.
50 miles outside of Pittsburgh, on the Pennsylvania-Ohio border, sits the small town of New Castle. Home to 21,797 people (2018 Census), the Rust Belt town is renowned for its fireworks and hot dogs. It is also home to numerous festivals and theaters. On the western side of New Castle is Union Area High School; the school holds around 650 kids from kindergarten to 12th grade, one of which is Gunn. The size and other factors posed numerous obstacles that had to be overcome.
“My high school isn’t anything near a powerhouse; last year we almost did not have a team. There are no scheduled lifts or workouts during the off-season, so it’s basically your responsibility to grind on your own. With my school being in the lowest classification, I was told by many top teams that my competition just wasn’t good enough for them to offer me,” Gunn explained. “That’s why I push myself and work so hard; I have a lot of people that I want to prove wrong, but I also do it to make my family and my city proud. It’s a small city and whenever a big time athlete comes around, everyone hopes they succeed and cheers them on.”
Despite the roadblocks, Gunn received his first offer from Kentucky after his freshman season, and more began to trickle in. This past October, the 6-foot-3, 308-lb lineman was offered a scholarship from Louisville and committed on March 17th. The relationships with coaches and the culture proved to be the deciding factors. “Coaches (Pete) Thomas and (Dwayne) Ledford were the first two coaches I started talking to and we’ve just had a bond ever since. They’re two great coaches, but two great people as well; that’s important to me and my family,” he said. “The staff was honest and straightforward, and they preached how I could be a part of their family.”
Since his commitment, Gunn has consistently heard from Rutgers and West Virginia, but he’s solid with the Cardinals. “Everything about Louisville is genuine and I believe in a few years we will be competing for national championships,” he stated. “Of all the schools I’ve been to, I’ve never experienced a culture like Louisville’s.” The top-800 lineman is rated as a top-40 player at his position (247Sports Composite).
On the field, Gunn uses his good size, speed, and athleticism to dominate his opponents at the line of scrimmage. He possesses an explosive burst along with a solid point of attack and good hands. “Louisville fans can expect a lot of pancakes out of me, along with me just being nasty and bullying people,” he exclaimed. “I like to get out, run, and use my athleticism; I play every position on the line.” Gunn’s versatility will be extremely valuable to head coach Scott Satterfield’s trenches. His high-energy play will be extremely appreciated in Louisville, as will his enthusiasm. From small town to large city, Gunn’s journey carries on.