The following was written by former Louisville kicker and 2006 Lou Groza Award winner Art Carmody
After the response to last week’s article about Brian Brohm’s recruitment I have opened up my blog for Brian to guest write whenever he wants. Through text message he said that he will consider it.
With recruiting season winding down I was planning on using this week to write about my own recruiting experiences, but that will look like I am copying Brian’s article from last week. So instead I will save that post for a later time. Sticking with my theme from the All-Underappreciated team, I want to go ahead and list my All-Decade team. I know I am technically a year behind, but that is ok. Instead of listing stats and boring stuff I am going to try and go with stuff that will show a more personal element to these Cardinal greats.
QB Stefan Lefors – A true competitor who ran the offense to perfection in 2004. Anytime he faked the handoff and rolled left the defense was in trouble. He has done a great job as the analyst on the cardinal football radio broadcasts.
QB Brian Brohm – There isn’t much more I can say that already hasn’t been said about Brian. He was a constant student of the game, always sitting in front of the TV studying film and going through his playbook. I was usually successful once in breaking his concentration by asking if he wanted to go to Dairy Kastle, (that ice cream place by campus that was open all year except in the winter). It is pretty hard to turn down Dairy Kastle. There was also the time when Brian, Justin Deeley, and I had a pretty in-depth argument about the expiration date on a gallon of milk that took about 30 minutes to come to a conclusion. Brian won the argument by convincing Justin it was ok to poor day old milk on his cereal. I was still skeptical and wouldn’t take a drink of it (I drink milk, but will not put it on my cereal). If anyone knows the answer to this age-old question, please let me know.
RB Michael Bush – He still throws one of the prettiest footballs I have ever seen, and any variation of the halfback pass was lethal in our offense. The day Brian committed, Michael was uncertain about his future because he was set on being the QB of the future for the Cards. It showed his true character that he took the challenge from Coach Petrino to make the switch to running back. He is one of the best athletes I have ever been associated with and when you look at his story it is like a movie. Hometown hero stays in Louisville, switches positions, becomes one of the best in the country, suffers a terrible season-ending leg injury, bounces back to have NFL success. Every road game we went on we would get little bags of cookies, chips, and candy for the plane ride. He would always trade me his famous amos cookies for my Doritos, which I always thought was a steal. If you compared those to draft picks I always had famous amos cookies with a 1st round value and Doritos as more of a low 2nd round value. I could then use my two bags of famous amos cookies to maybe get a snickers bar (lottery pick). I should be a general manager of something.
RB Bilal Powell – Bilal put the 2010 offense on his back and basically said I am taking this team to a bowl game. It ended up being one of the single greatest rushing seasons in Cardinal football history. I will admit that I was a little skeptical when Coach Strong named him "the face of the program," but he was right. Bilal was a quiet freshman when he came to the team in 2007 and has left a mature young man that has a great future ahead of him.
FB: Joe Tronzo – Joe "Meat" Tronzo was a beast in the weight room. He was a special teams player his first few years but worked himself into a NFL caliber fullback. One of the best work ethics ever to walk through the doors of the Schnellenberger football complex. Pretty good for a guy who came to Louisville as an undersized defensive end.
WR J.R. Russell – If you would have told me that J.R. was not going to be in the NFL longer than one year I would have said you were crazy. He was Stefan’s favorite target in 2003 and 2004, and rightfully so as he dominated Conference USA defensive backfields. He was also one of the biggest trash talkers in the country, and was also the only one brave enough to talk back to the Petrino brothers. There were a few times when I literally thought that Bobby Petrino was going to kill him.
WR Josh Tinch – A great leader and teammate who was a unanimous All-Big East performer in 2005. His catch against WVU over the middle for a touchdown that year was incredible, and he also had a great one-handed touchdown catch in the upset over FSU in 2002. A hilarious guy who liked to freestyle rap songs in the locker room that would poke fun at guys on the team. Poor Lee Sweeney (backup freshman QB in 2005) took the brunt of these freestyle raps since his locker was right next to Tinch.
WR Harry Douglas – He always had a ton of energy no matter what and was a 2nd Team All-American in 2007 despite missing almost three games due to injury. My all-time favorite Cardinal, which I explained in my first ever post on this website.
WR Deion Branch – He showed up in the off-season after his Super Bowl MVP performance and spent a lot of time working out with the team that summer since he was involved in a contract dispute. His work ethic showed why he was an NFL player and Harry Douglas would work out with him in the weight room every chance he could get. He also would participate in voluntary 7 on 7 drills in the summer which were a lot of fun to watch. His pro shuttle times were also the stuff of legend in the weight room.
TE Rhonnie Ghent/Gary Barnidge (Tie) - Rhonnie was a four-time All C-USA performer. On the day the All-Conference teams were announced in 2003 a whole bunch of the guys got surran-wrap and taped up his locker as if it were a display case to be immortalized. Everyone got a big kick out of that. Gary was one of the smartest football players who worked himself into an NFL player. He also took a lot of pride in being on the Field Goal/PAT team, which I always appreciated.
OL Jason Spitz – Spitzy was not only a smart football player, but one of the smartest guys I have ever met. Also one of the funniest guys I have ever met. There was never a dull moment around him. He introduced me to sushi in 2004, which was a game-changer for me. We also invented "Wicked Wednesday" during the off-season. If you sat at our table during training table dinners your food was fair game to be tampered with. This turned into a fun day of the week as it would usually be me, the linemen, and the quarterbacks at this table. Danny Barlowe was an easy target and it got to the point where we would all plan for these dinners and try to come up with new tricks.
OL Travis Leffew – A great lineman who was an All-American in 2004. I once almost gave him a concussion at practice. We were doing field goal drills and there was a low snap that Harry was able to trap and then get down at the last second. I rushed the kick and absolutely crushed a low line drive right off the back of Travis’ helmet. Petrino was pissed and Travis was a little woozy. They had to take him out a few minutes to check him out. He was fine and was back in for the next drill. Petrino was not very pleased with me and then yelled at me for almost killing one of his starting linemen. Harry tried to take the blame for the low kick (which is another reason why I owe him steaks), but Petrino wasn’t buying it.
OL Eric Wood – One of the nicest guys off the field, but a beast between the white lines. The leader of the 2008 team. A play that symbolizes Eric Wood was the fumble recovery for a touchdown by the Kentucky defensive lineman in 2008. Eric never gave up on the play and chased him as fast as he could to try to save the touchdown. He ran out of real estate but that was the kind of player Eric was. Full go until the final whistle.
OL Renardo Foster – great lineman from the 2006 Orange Bowl team. Also an astute follower of NBA and College Basketball.
OL Mark Wetterer – He anchored the offensive line this past year and deserves a spot on this team.
DL Elvis Dumervil – Elvis’ work ethic was unmatched during his time as a Cardinal. During summer workouts he would use every sprint opportunity to work on his timing to get off the line of scrimmage. He would beat guys up and down the field and would challenge the wide receivers because he knew he could beat them off the line and get down field. He made everyone around him better and took pride in his craft. He would visualize himself making the big play each week and he made many big plays in 2005.
DL Montavious Stanley – Great player who made a lot of big plays during his time as a Cardinal. His locker during training camp was like a miniature apartment. He had a little mattress and blanket and would squeeze in a nap whenever he could.
DL Amobi Okoye – A player who signed with the Cardinals when he was 15 and developed into a better player every year. He was one of the leaders of our defense in 2006 and would help lead our players only meetings that we would have every week. If Amobi felt the intensity wasn’t where it needed to be he would let you know. A player that helped lead us to the Orange Bowl. He couldn’t legally see ‘R’ rated movies until the summer after his freshman year of college.
DL Dewayne White – I never got the chance to play with Dewayne but everyone said he was a great player, so therefore, he gets onto this list.
LB Robert McCune – "The Hammer." I think I am still a little scared of Hammer. He was a pretty intimidating guy to be around. He always went full speed and was a great player. Robert served three years in the national guard. He also liked to sing in the locker room and there is a point to this. One time in the locker room he was sitting on a table with a towel over his head getting treatment. Over the radio speakers the song "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion was playing, the theme from Titanic. Hammer pipes up "OHHHHHHH……….THIS SONG GETS ME PUMPED UP!!!!!" and starts singing along to the chorus. He played in the CFL last season and was a heck of a player for the Cards, dominating on defense and special teams.
LB Brandon Johnson – Slim was not only a great linebacker but was a special teams ace early in his career with the Cards, blocking three punts as a freshman.
LB Nate Harris – Nate was a transfer in the summer of 2005 and immediately made an impact. He was best known for talking trash about Miami before the Miami game in 2006. The important thing was that we were behind him and he backed up his words in that game. The coaching staff gave him a chance and he was a model student-athlete after transferring from Junior College.
DB William Gay – Played as a true freshman in 2003 and had a great career that ended with a game-clinching interception in the Orange Bowl. He was a great athlete who will be looking for his 2nd Super Bowl ring next weekend as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
DB Antoine Harris – A former wide receiver who made the transition to defensive back. He was a great defensive player who was the defensive MVP of the Liberty Bowl in 2004. Stefan made him an honorary member of the corner (our corner in the locker room) because his locker was just outside the border that separated the corner from lockers #25-#36 and he was always joining in our corner conversations. A great team player who has gone on to a respectable NFL career. He used to joke that if he ever started on Monday Night Football he would announce that he was from Joe Whitt’s Louisville School for Corners.
DB Johnny Patrick – A player with an immense amount of talent that got to show it in 2010 under Charlie Strong. Johnny was my locker mate during the 2007 season. I learned that when he gets in the zone it's best not to mess with him. A fierce competitor who should go on to the NFL.
FS Kerry Rhodes – Easy choice for safey. Kerry did a lot for the younger guys on the team and was a tremendous athlete. He finished his career in style with an interception in the Liberty Bowl to help beat Boise State.
K Nate Smith – Nate was a four year starter, a great kicker, and one of the best athletes on the team. He set the bar for what I wanted to be when I showed up as a freshman in the fall of 2003. I tried to copy his work ethic on the practice field, in the weight room, and in the classroom. Nate taught me a lot about mental toughness and could be hard on us freshmen at times. Looking back on it he was getting me ready to take over for him in 2004. I credit a lot of my success to Nate Smith.
P Wade Tydlacka – Wade took me under his wing as a freshman and is still one of my best friends to this day. He was also a great specialist who kicked field goals, kicked off, and punted during his career as a Card. He had a great fall camp in 2003 and was poised to have a great senior season. However, in warm-ups against Kentucky he felt a sharp pain in his knee but played anyways. He had injured his knee and had to have surgery which sidelined him for almost half the season. If it weren’t for that injury I feel strongly that he would have had a heck of a season.
KOS Chris Philpott – Chris did a great job this year helping the defense with his kickoff ability. I also just wanted to get him on this list because I wanted him to come to Louisville out of high school and was pumped when he committed. So you’re welcome Card fans for every touchback, field goal for the go ahead points in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, and that fake punt run against WVU.
LS Dane Mattingly – Dane was simply a machine. Also had the rare ability to always be on TV or in almost every picture in the media guide. A true skill.
PR/KR Trent Guy – A great teammate who had some electrifying moments as a returner, including my favorite when he took it to the house against WVU in 2006. Also a solid receiver who made a great comeback after being shot in the summer of 2008.
That is my All-Decade team and I hope you enjoyed it. Have a great weekend.