Last Season: With Lorenzo Mauldin leaving for the NFL, Louisville recruited former Big XII Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields to replace him. While Fields struggled in the first half of the season to find some rhythm, he eventually led the team with 10.5 sacks last season, including 7.5 in the final three games against Pitt, Kentucky and Texas A&M. Keith Kelsey led all Cardinals with 106 tackles, and Louisville saw a bevvy of linebackers come in and have a major impact on the team. Louisville also saw Trevon Young have a nice spurt of 8.5 sacks in a four-game stretch, as the linebacker group became the strongest group in Louisville’s defense.
James Burgess is the lone starter gone from last season’s team, now signed as an undrafted free agent by his hometown Miami Dolphins. Keith Brown and Nick Dawson-Brents, who Louisville saw used in a reserve role last season, both transferred to Western Kentucky.
This Season: It goes without saying that this is not only Louisville’s strongest position on the entire team, but this may be the strongest linebacker group in the country.
As mentioned, Devonte Fields leads the group as the main edge rusher for Louisville. Fields has the potential to be yet another first-round pick for the Cardinals; the senior has strong hands at the point of attack, and has some great agility to sidestep pass blockers. Fields has received a lot of praise as an All-American and All-ACC candidate, and could be in for an outstanding 2016 season if he stays consistent for all 12 games.
The other edge rusher remains a mystery to most. With Trevon Young sitting out the 2016 season due to a hip injury suffered in the Music City Bowl, James Hearns will be the guy to replace him. Hearns was a highly touted prospect when he signed with the team in 2013, but hasn’t quite cracked the starting lineup due to so much talent at the position the last three seasons. He got a lot of playing time as a reserve last season and got to audition for his role, after Trevon Young was injured. Hearns has also lined up as a 3-4 defensive end, so it’ll be interesting to see if Todd Grantham will occasionally move Hearns there in certain blitz packages and get more speed from reserves like Henry Famurewa and Jonathan Greenard.
Keith Kelsey and Stacy Thomas are the starting inside linebackers, and both figure to be solid All-ACC candidates. Kelsey is an outstanding tackler, and a consistent, reliable playmaker for Louisville’s defense. Kelsey is a solid leader and has been an all-around threat for Louisville. It will be interesting to see what Kelsey does this season without his fellow “Bash Brother” Burgess, but most fans are excited to see what Stacy Thomas has to offer as his replacement. Thomas had an impressive showing in the Music City Bowl, and possibly stands as the X-factor for this defense after being a special teams ace. He was thought to miss a couple games to start the season, but he recently returned to practice and is ready to go for Thursday’s game against Charlotte.
Even if injuries and transfers left the linebacker position without more players, the team has amazing depth in their two-deep lineup that will allow them to compete. Henry Famurewa and Jonathan Greenard are two guys that could see more time as edge rushers this season; both were highly touted . Amonte Caban and Isaac Stewart are two young, impressive linebackers who could spell Kelsey and/or Thomas this season, and they figure to be the future for Louisville at the position once those two graduate.
Gary McCrae, who was featured in the Netflix hit documentary Last Chance U, signed with Louisville after failing to qualify academically for Georgia. McCrae is a guy that could see time this year as a reserve, but this is a very deep group and most of the incoming players may see a redshirt this season.
This week…..on 55…..
We talk 2014 Football signing class, emoticons and emoji, The valiant effort of the Women’s Basketball team (Not Lady Cards, been trying to spread the word coach) to a surprise for the loyal readers of 55, and so much more. Here’s a little backstory on this week’s 55 pic. The above picture is a speed limit sign from the frigid snow engulfed areas of Northern Wisconsin. Their motto is drive under 55 and you may stay alive. I wish I was kidding, I am not at all. We are doing our next #CardFam Lunch this Sunday at noon at BW3’s on Dixie, all are welcome, just DM me and let me know for head count purposes. Well here we go. Once again, I share with you the 55 most ridiculous things I have heard, had to debate, or just thought about this past week. This …..is….55
1) I am starting a promotion for my loyal and wonderful supporters of the #55movement (Just made that up). Starting next Monday I will let you guys write a portion of 55. Just tweet me #First15 and I will let you write the first 15 lines of 55. It’s that simple. Shoutout to @TurtleBITW for getting my brain turning and coming up with this idea. Everyone will get to do it. I will randomize the order. That easy.
3) I did NOT get the idea from this book
4) Speaking of
5) I posed a question on Twitter last night about whether or not dudes should send other dudes smiley faces or tongue sticking out faces or emojis or emoticons in general. I said RT for Yes and Fav for No. I had a few speak on it instead of following Twitter survey etiquette but here is the question and results.
7) No RT and all favorites…
9) Haha indeed
10) I had a friend tell me I needed emoji for dummies….But “he” uses them and knew the name of the book….
12) Moving forward
13) Today Greg Brown, an NFL coaching veteran and former collegiate defensive coordinator, has joined the University of Louisville football’s coaching staff as the safeties coach and recruiting coordinator. Brown spent 15 years in the NFL before going to Alabama in 2013 as secondary coach under Nick Saban.
14) Kelsi Jones was named the inaugural AAC Player of the Week as UofL Softball started the season with a tough 3-2 record on the weekend. It doesn’t get any easier this weekend heading to Jacksonville with games against #17 Mizzou, #36 Notre Dame & #39 North Carolina. Good Luck girls!
15) On Sunday the Women’s Tennis team annihilated Conference foe Cincy 7-0 at home. The Cards are on a 3 match winning streak and will head to Wisconsin Friday.
Here is what the recruits were tweeting about while on Louisville’s campus this weekend. There were 10 total visitors. National Signing Day is Wednesday February 5.
Coach Petrino and his staff are hosting another group of recruits this weekend. These “official visit” weekends are huge for the staff since the coaching change and because National Signing Day is just a couple of weeks away. They have to lock down the guys who were committed to the previous staff as well as impress the targets. Here is the list of visitors this weekend for the Cards.
Desean Blair– 4* wide receiver from Jacksonville, FL. 6’4 185 lbs
*According to our own post here, Blair said that Nebraska was his favorite after visiting them last weekend. However, after Coach Petrino visited his school this week, the Cards pulled even, making this weekend a big one for the Cards with Blair.
Michael Johnson– 4* safety from Hialeah, FL. 6’2 190 lbs