We all know what to expect from returning contributors like Teddy Bridgewater, Hakeem Smith, Mario Benavides and Preston Brown. Here are a handful of guys who didn’t get significant action last season, but I think could make an impact for the Louisville in 2012.
Charles Gaines – Wide Receiver: RS Freshman
Gaines is a 5-foot-11 wide receiver turned cornerback and is now once again a wide receiver. The Miami native was one of the nine 2011 signee’s who arrived on campus a semester early. Gaines had a tremendous spring last year and looked to be one of the true freshmen that could contribute right away. Unfortunately, Gaines suffered a shoulder injury in late August which caused him to miss his entire freshman season. With Louisville adding a little more depth at cornerback, Gaines was recently able to move back to his natural position at wide receiver. The Cards are slightly loaded at wide-out right now, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see plenty of Gaines. Louisville assistant coach Kenny Carter described Gaines as a “phenomenal” punt and kick returner. Rather it’s at wide receiver or special teams, I expect Gaines to be a contributor for the Cards this season.
Devontre Pollard – Cornerback: Freshman
Adrian Bushell and Andrew Johnson are likely locks for the starting cornerback position, but true freshman Devontre Parnell is a name to keep in mind in regards to depth. Parnell was one of the more highly touted players to sign with Louisville in 2012. He was once rated as a 4-star prospect out of South Carolina, but he tore his ACL prior to his senior season which caused for a slight drop in the rankings. Parnell is finally getting back to 100% and has put on nearly ten pounds of muscle since arriving on campus.
Lorenzo Mauldin – Defensive End: Sophomore
Mauldin made saw some action last year in a variety of roles. He was recruited to Louisville as a defensive end, but was converted to tight end prior to the start of the season. He finished the season back on the defensive side of the ball. He appeared in all 12 games mostly on special teams. It’ll be hard for Mauldin to beat out Marcus Smith or BJ Butler for a starting spot, but he’s definitely talented enough to see the field as a back-up. He was once committed to South Carolina before signing with Louisville. Mauldin is a tremendous athlete.
–In my opinion, depth is the biggest different between how Charlie Strong is building the program, and how it was built by Bobby Petrino. Strong doesn’t just have talent in the first string, he’s got guys on the sideline that can come in and play without the team having much of a drop off. Gaines, Pollard and Mauldin are a perfect example of that in my opinion.