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Charlie Strong has done a miraculous job of bringing in top talent since being hired by Tom Jurich. But has the unstable Big East taken a toll on this year's recruiting class?
Charlie strong has done an amazing job of getting the Cardinal football program back on track since taking over a team that had backed into four wins the previous year. He's received plenty of praise for what he's done on the field, but what he's done off of it is outstanding. Strong's recruiting classes have been flat out amazing for a couch taking over a struggling program.
Charlie's first class spent most of the season ranked in the top 25 by multiple recruiting services. Ultimately, it took some signing day commitments from some power conference teams to knock UofL to around number 30 in most rankings. That means a coach that took over a team that had beaten three FBS teams by a combined eleven points was able to get guys to buy into his goal of taking this school to new heights.
In his first two months on the job, Strong reeled in multiple four star recruits, including B.J. Butler who decommited from Georgia. Strong hit the ground running and really gained national recognition for his success on the recruiting trail. It seemed to have a positive effect on recruiting because he absolutely killed it the next year.
Charlie landed Theodore Bridgewater to headline his 2011 recruiting class. Bridgewater and others in the class had offers from schools like Miami, LSU, Ole Miss, Nebraska, South Carolina, Iowa, Arkansas, and Florida State. Coach Strong and Clint Hurtt were lauded once again for pulling top talent out of Florida to come to a Louisville school that still was technically struggling. Hurtt was voted by multiple publications as the recruiter of the year.
With all of the success that Strong has had in recruiting it seems as though we as fans have reached what I call the "level of expectation". It's pretty self explainitory. We now expect a great recruiting class every year no matter what. We've been spoiled so to speak.
The city of Louisville has arguably the highest level of high school talent that it has had in recent memory. Trinity boasts three nationally recognized talents and it also has two other seniors that are probable Division-I (I hate FBS) prospects. That's one school. Obviously with Strong's success on the recruiting trail, we expected these kids to commit without thinking twice. But why?
Put yourself in a recruit's shoes right now. Louisville, for the second year in a row, is one of the youngest teams in the country. There are only three seniors on the ENTIRE defense. And one of them is a walk on. Strong had a major recruiting pitch working in his favor for his first three classes. Playing time. No kid on earth wants to sit on the bench. And the unfortunate thing for Strong is that his fast start in recruiting could quite honestly be hurting him in this class. "Losing" a recruit this year is more likely due to the crowded roster than it is anything else.
Strong also has to be picky. After last years recruiting class was signed Strong was left with only 12-15 scholarships available for this years class. NCAA rules state that you are allowed to sign 25 players per year as long as your total number of scholarships doesn't exceed 85. You can do the math on that one. Strong having to be picky is a gift and a curse. It's a blessing because you can can really go after the guys you want and cast a smaller net. Strong has gotten a lot out of the lower rated recruits he's landed over the years. Jake Smith, Andrew Johnson, Brandon Dunn, and Senorise Perry are all good examples of this. He's really targeting "his" guys this year that fit his system. This could also be a curse because accepting a kids scholarship is literally a gamble. What happens if a "better" kid wants to commit? Does he not accept the commitment like he did last week with Valdez?
Another reason, and the most important one in my opinion, that people shouldn't worry about Strong's class so far is the fact that he always closes better than he starts. Charlie Strong hasn't landed a single 4-star recruit before December. That should be more than enough to help people calm down about the state of the recruiting class. Strong and Hurtt pride themselves on being able to do two things really well. They are great with parents on in-home visits, and they are absolutely money once they get a kid on campus for a visit. Here's the thing though. They don't typically do either of those things until the season is over with. So just be patient. This class will not be as great as the others have been. But we will get a couple of really good recruits that will be worthy of fanfare.
Oh, if anybody is wondering if the Big East is the reason why we're allegedly having a down year in recruiting? No one told Kyle Flood at Rutgers