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.
Football season is still over two months away but it’s on my mind everyday. I recently received an email for the University ticket office that stated my request for Clemson tickets was approved and would be mailed at the end of August. I felt like a six-year-old on Christmas morning upon reading that email. Football has always been my first love even though I have come to enjoy Cardinal softball since I started covering it for CSZ. You should really go to a softball game. It’s a great time and you will be pleasantly surprised with the product on the field. Read the rest of this entry
Here is another great compilation from the fine folks at UofL Football. It’s the top 5 Interception Performances of 2015. Enjoy.
(Click more to view video)
Where would you rank the Cards Defensive line next year? ESPN’s Andrea Adelson released her opnions and I cannot say I disagree much. The Cards are losing a first round draft pick in Sheldon Rankins and a guy in Keith Burgess who should have been drafted. Miami got a steal there. I feel like the Line backer core led by Keith Kelsey is deeper this year thus softening the blow. I expect a big step up from Henry Famurewa this year as well. IF Trevon Young comes back then I would say the ranking that ESPN gave our Cards may be a spot too low but all in all I agree. Devonte Fields, our sure-fire first rounder for 2017, will have a huge year. So many guys that can step up this year it is ridiculous. What do you all think? Put your answers in the comment section. Go Cards! (Click More for the ESPN prediction)
There is something about James Burgess that draws real Football fans to him instantly. Is it his hard-hitting demeanor? Maybe. It hurt my heart to see him ejected in the bowl game. Is it the fact that he does a ton in the community and is genuinely nice to everyone he meets? Maybe. He was one of the first players that followed me back instantly after we started CardinalSportsZone.com. We all know he’s funny and a little bit cocky too. THAT’S IT! What grabbed my attention was his commitment video. I know, I know. That’s corny. If you seen him commit though you know. He came to us during a time it wasn’t very cool to be here and from the back yard of hated rival Miami. That counted for something too. Great dude that I have had the fortune of becoming cool with and I wish and hope for the very best for him, a spot with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Without further adieu, here’s the video that started it all with me. The commitment:
Here is a video recap via Louisville Football on James Burgess Pro day.
Pro day is the one day a year that NFL teams converge on a school and let all of their draft eligible guys work out for them. Today is that day. Pro fascinateds me as it is a day that stars can be born or told that their hands are too small. Teddy proved those jokers wrong. Sorry, I digress. I have been seeing these pictures and videos floating around all morning via @UofLFootball and @ULFBRecruiting. I thought I would just post all of the videos and pictures in one spot. I will update this post as new things are posted. Go Cards!
We started CardinalSportsZone.com in December of 2011. My grandma had just passed in August and it was something that me and Steve Rummage had passively talked about doing a number of times. When my grandma passed I gained a whole new perspective in life. Stop dreaming and start doing. Lost 180 pounds, started the website and changed my attitude for the better.
Great story I read yesterday from Steve Jones from the Courier Journal. I felt it was my obligation to pass it along. Enjoy!
No combine invite, but Burgess training hard Steve Jones, @stevejones_cj
Louisville All-ACC linebacker James Burgess said he was shocked to learn this month that he’d not been invited to this week’s NFL draft scouting combine. But he’s eager to try to prove his professional potential in other ways.
“That came from left field. I don’t know where that came from,” Burgess said of not making the combine. “But I don’t make the list. All I can do is put up good numbers at my pro day. Hopefully a lot of scouts come there and see what I’m capable of doing. I didn’t see (the lack of a combine invitation) coming at all, but you can’t do anything about it. You can’t pout about it.”
We’ve now had a few days to let the win against Texas A&M really sink in. The more I think about it, the more excited it makes me. That team went out and gave one of its best performances of the season. That’s expected when a team gets time to prepare and game plan; however, it is not expected when James Burgess, three time starting senior linebacker gets ejected for a horribly called and even more horrendously upheld targeting call on the first play from scrimmage. You can’t game plan for losing one of your best edge rushers shortly after that either. Not to mention, Shaq Wiggins missed most of the first half on the play that sent Burgess to the locker room. This very young team overcame every obstacle thrown at them in Nashville, and did it with style.
This is a pretty cool little video with LD Scott, Kolby Smith, and James Burgess.
The ACC announced their All-Conference teams on Monday afternoon, and there was no shortage of Louisville Cardinals, as 10 players were named to various teams. Nobody made the first team, and Sheldon Rankins somehow landed all the way back on the third team.
Of the 10 players, 9 came from the defensive side of the ball, with Geron Christian being the only player on offense to make it. The full teams are listed below.
Here is James Burgess on the field after the game on Saturday. He talks about the mentality that the Cards have had all season long, after starting 0-3 and now being 6-4.
Coach Bobby Petrino speaks to the media following Saturday’s 38-31 win over Virginia on Senior Day at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Todd Grantham, Josh Appleby, and James Burgess talked to the media on Wednesday to preview Florida State. Because, why wouldn’t you want to hear from the punter that is making a Heisman run? (If you don’t listen to Ramsey & Rutherford on 93.9 The Ville, you won’t get it.)