The future at the linebacker position has turned very bright for the Louisville defense due to the coaching staff’s increased emphasis on the core. However, Scott Satterfield opted to secure some immediate production as the Cardinals dipped into Mississippi to secure a commitment from JUCO standout KJ Cloyd on Tuesday evening.
Thanks for all the support. My decision is final. Time to take off🛫💯 pic.twitter.com/v4EVHWMeRg
— Kj (@Kj_Cloyd) July 21, 2020
He chose Louisville over Arkansas, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, and others. The 6-foot-2, 215 lbs outside linebacker ranked as the 23rd-best junior college prospect in the 2021 class (247Sports) and the second-highest at the respective position. However, Cloyd will be forgoing his sophomore season at Jones College to join Bryan Brown’s defense in August.
It didn’t take long for a decision to be made as Louisville offered the Ellisville, MS native last Friday. However, it was a no-brainer for Cloyd. “They (Louisville) have the best situation for myself and my family,” he said. “My dream is to not only play in the NFL but to also be successful at playing, and I believe they are my best option.” The journey to the NFL has been a unique one, but Cloyd won’t let his start at a junior college define his goals. In fact, the setting served as a reminder that nothing is truly given in this sport. “Juco pushed me to be my best,” he explained. “Playing hungry athletes leaves absolutely no room to be slow to the table and juco allowed me to compete with great athletes, which resulted in becoming an even greater athlete.”
On the field, Cloyd is a sideline-to-sideline threat. For Brown’s defense, versatility is the name of the game and Cloyd’s skill set will allow him to play either inside or outside; he possesses exceptional poise and patience, coupled with high IQ and powerful hitting abilities. With the coronavirus threatening depth charts across the country, getting a guy like Cloyd on the team this late in the summer is a home run. Whether it be tackling in the open field or disrupting plays in the backfield, he can make an immediate impact. At the very least, he will serve as a quality depth piece.
Cloyd’s game resembles that of James Burgess’ in the way he is able to hit with enormous power. On top of that, Burgess played with speed and always was involved in disrupting plays at the line of scrimmage. It would no surprise to see Cloyd follow on the same path as a hard-hitting fan favorite.
Realistically, it can be anticipated that Cloyd becomes a candidate to replace Dorian Etheridge as the team’s primary middle linebacker. With three years of eligibility remaining, he has more than enough time and opportunity to leave his mark on the field and make life very difficult for opposing offenses. His trademark staple is playing with an excess amount of speed and passion, which completely embodies the defensive philosophy for Louisville. Robert Hicks and Monty Montgomery will also be competing for the role at inside linebacker, but even if Cloyd doesn’t find his future at that position, he projects as a high-energy pass-rushing linebacker on the outside.