Expectations for the Louisville football program are fairly high in 2015. In their second season in the ACC, the Cardinals are ranked No. 25 in ESPN’s early rankings for 2015.
Outsiders may find that a little bit surprising considering how much talent that Petrino lost from this past season. There are some talented players returning, but a good chunk of Louisville’s production on both sides of the ball won’t be around in the fall.
The Cards are losing on of the most winningest senior classes in college football. Only Florida State will have more players at this year’s NFL than Louisville, which should tell you just how much talent that Petrino is losing.
One of the main reasons why Louisville has high expectations despite losing so many players is because of the talented transfers that will be eligible next season.
Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (Georgia), cornerback Shaq Wiggins (Georgia), wide receiver Jaquay Williams (Texas A&M) and wide receiver Jamari Staples (UAB) have all proven their worth and will be able to contribute in a major way.
It’s not just the FBS transfers that are expected to make an early impact. There are a number of guys from Louisville’s 2015 recruiting class that are expected to compete for playing time right away. Petrino and his staff signed one of the best classes in school history and it came at a perfect time.
“We had to do it that way,” offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said during a radio interview on Wednesday morning. “I think coach did a really good job at understanding that we had one of the most winningest senior classes in college football, especially when you add to that Gerod Holliman, James Sample and Charles Gaines leaving also.
“What that means is managing the roster for next season is critical. You lost a lot of veteran good players. Managing the roster and making sure that you’re program can stay on top. When you can only bring in 25 guys on the roster, you need to make sure you bring in the right guys. The 25 guys we brought in need to be able to help us immediately.”
More often than not, when you bring in junior college players you’re taking a risk because you have an immediate need at a certain position. That isn’t the case with Louisville’s 2015 class. Guys like Devonte Fields, Paul Harris and Jeremy Smith may be some of the top players for the Cards in 2015.
“You don’t bring older guys on your roster to have them stand on the sideline,” McGee said. “Those guys are coming here to help us immediately. Jeremy, Jamari and the others, those guys were brought in to help us immediately.”<