In addition to being the last time fans can see Louisville play this football season, the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Eve is also the last time a talented group of seniors will suit up for the Cardinals.
The Cards had 20 seniors on their 2016 squad, including key players at several positions.
While Heisman winner and superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson still has at least another year with the Cards, they’re still losing several crucial parts of one of the top offenses in the country, particularly in their receiving corps.
These include leading receivers James Quick, Jamari Staples and Cole Hikutini. The trio have almost 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns between them.
Hikutini, voted second-team All-ACC, had a team-high eight touchdown catches and 656 yards, including a career-high 118-yard game against NC State on October 22.
Staples, a transfer from UAB after their football program folded, added 593 yards and two more touchdowns.
Both Hikutini and Staples have been selected to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl on January 28, 2017.
Quick, a highly-touted player coming out of Trinity High School in Louisville, is coming off his second season as the team’s leading receiver, catching a team-high 688 yards and six touchdowns in 2016. He was selected to the All-ACC third team.
While Lamar Jackson accounted for most the Louisville running game this season, but the Cards are also losing their leading running back in Brandon Radcliff, who ran for 877 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Louisville loses three parts of their offensive line after the Citrus Bowl, Khalil Hunter, Matt Cohen and Tobijah Hughley.
Hughley started his Louisville career as a walk-on but got a scholarship his sophomore year and has been the starting center ever since then, being named a team captain in 2016.
Khalil Hunter transferred from junior college in 2015 and only started in three games that season but he became a key part of the offensive line in 2016, earning All-ACC Honorable Mention honors this season.
The Cards had one of the top defenses in the country this season to accompany their high-powered offense, and it was thanks to the contributions of many outgoing seniors.
Since transferring from TCU, linebacker Devonte Fields has been one of the Cards most dynamic defensive players. After a junior season where he led the nation in tackles for loss, was an All-ACC Honorable Mention and named to the ESPN All-Bowl team, he continued that success into his final season. Fields was first team All-ACC this season. He had 42 total tackles, eight tackles for loss with five sacks and one interception.
Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons was named to the All-ACC third team and joins Hikutini and Staples on the Reese’s Senior Bowl squad. A transfer from Georgia, he tallied 61 tackles and two sacks this season.
Linebacker Keith Kelsey has led the Cards defense for the past two seasons, racking up 81 tackles this year with 4.5 for loss and one sack this year. He was named to the All-ACC second team this season.
Defensive Tackle DeAngelo Brown is another key part of the Cardinal defense. He had 35 tackles, a team-high 11 tackles for loss, three sacks and a fumble recovery. He joins Kelsey on the All-ACC Second Team this year.
These seniors will play in their final game in a Cardinal uniform at the Citrus Bowl against LSU on December 31, 2016.<