Hakeem Smith may be the most recognizable name on the defensive side of the ball nationally. Smith was given Big East Rookie of the Year honors as a freshman in 2010, and was named First Team All Big East as a sophomore last season. There is no denying that he may be the top talent on this Louisville defense. Smith finished tied for 2nd on the team in total tackles for the 2011 season just behind then senior Dexter Heyman. Calvin Pryor appeared in all 13 games for the 2011 season and started the last six…as a true freshman. He’s big time threat in the open field who loves to land a big hit. You do not; I repeat do not want to be on the receiving end of one of Pryor’s big hits. The guy can flat out lay the hammer. Calvin is also a legitimate threat for the interception pulling in two as a freshman with an additional five pass breakups. Expect these two to be your locks at the starting position.
True freshman Gerod Holliman, redshirt freshman Jermaine Reve and redshirt sophomore running-back-turned-safety Kamal Hogan. There is no secret the Holliman was the top athlete in the 2012 recruiting class. Many remember that he committed to Louisville’s 2011 class with teammate Andrew Johnson but found himself with eligibility issues and was forced to go to prep school and become a member of the 2012 class. Luckily for the Cardinals he remained committed throughout. Jermaine Reve came to Louisville as a very quiet 3-Star athlete and teammate of Teddy Bridgewater, Eli Rogers and Michaelee Harris at Northwestern High School in Miami. Jermaine has great length and speed and is very similar in size to Hakeem Smith. Reve will get plenty of minutes in the rotation this season and will be a solid contributor for the Cards. Kamal Hogan came to Louisville as a 3-Star Running Back ranked 32nd in the country at his position. In the spring Hogan moved to Safety to help give added depth. It’s unsure how he will contribute, but there is no question he is a phenomenal athlete.
Player To Watch
First and foremost you have to go with Gerod Holliman. Some of you may remember the 2010 US Army All American Bowl when teammates Gerod Holliman and that other guy (Andrew Johnson) chose Louisville over some very high profile programs. As I stated earlier, Holliman ended up having to attend prep school and become a member of the 2012 class. When Gerod confirmed his commitment, he instantly became the top guy in the class. When the two originally chose Louisville, Johnson was a bit of an afterthought to many and look how he turned out as a true freshman. So if Gerod is to be the better of the two, Louisville fans could be in for a real treat right away. Secondly I have to go with Calvin Pryor. This man is an absolute beast. Pryor possesses a different kind of attitude and dark confidence going across the field that you just know he is going to get it done. And all that while he lined up as a true freshman. Calvin in my mind will early and often rival Hakeem Smith for the safety accolades. He may end up becoming the guy offenses stay away from. Don’t sleep on Calvin Pryor cause this guy can flat out ball. Very anxious to see what the guy looks like as a sophomore. I expect he will not disappoint.
While the safety position isn’t terribly deep, it is rich with talent. I have a ton of faith in Louisville’s secondary and it will be difficult for any opponent to find the end zone. There will be no more TY Hilton episodes. I know I have said this about many of the other positions of the field, but this could be one of the stronger. It’s a good problem to have to be so unsure of which is the most dominant group on Louisville’s football field. The speed, athleticism and sure grit these guys possess will be a massive force against any and all opponents. New defensive back coach Tommy Restivito is no stranger to these guys or Head Coach Charlie Strong and I don’t expect he will have any problem getting 110% out of his unit