#5 Teddy Bridgewater
Hometown: Miami, Fla
Thoughts: What can I say that hasn't already been said two or threes times over? Teddy Bridgewater is one of the best football players to put on a University of Louisville football jersey. Period. When Charlie took over back in 2010 and got a commitment from this young man from Florida we had no idea what type of impact, if any, he would have on the road to getting Louisville football back to where it once was. That season we were much more reliant on the run with Bilal and Vic Anderson as our QB situation was somewhat sketchy with Adam "Sausage King" Froman and Burke at the helm. No disrespect to those guys, they just weren't the likes of Redman, Ragone, LeFors, Brohm, etc. that we had become accustomed to seeing. I had faith that Coach Strong would get the players necessary to begin the ascent, and we all knew it was going to start with a reliable signal caller. I can't speak for others, but I had confidence in Will Stein two years ago. Was he the ultimate solution? Maybe not, but he was the next step in the progression of the program. I hated to see him get hurt, and thought that we might have sacrificed a decent season at the expense of getting a talented freshman some more game experience. I was wrong. While the injury set Will back on a personal level, it opened the door for Teddy to take the reins of the offense. Not many players could have taken that backseat role in stride like Stein, and maintain the passion he had during the last two seasons. Also, while 2011 and 2012 will be remembered with Teddy as the QB, we aren't back-to-back Big East Champs without Stein making some big plays.
Teddy's progression has been nothing short of magical as the kid just seemed to get better and better the more reps he got. As he got better the questions got harder. He was a good freshman, but can he be "great" as a Sophomore? He was a great Sophomore but now can he have a "Heisman" type Junior year? Sure, the wins are important, but his stats are equally as impressive. Last season he had over 3700 yards of total offense, or 288 yds/game. Only twice has one player had more than that with Redman in 98 and Brohm in 07. He had 27 passing touchdowns last year and added a rushing TD just to show off, finishing with 28. He capped off the year with a 68.5 completion percentage and a 160.48 efficiency rating. The best part, as Strong has constantly emphasized, is that he can be better. Currently Teddy sits at #6 all-time for career offensive yardage...after two seasons. If he plays like last year he'll fly by Jay Gruden, LeFors and Ragone in only three years. He would most likely unseat Brohm and Redman if he stayed all four years, but I doubt we'll see Teddy as a senior and I can't blame him. A lot of people are projecting Bridgewater to be the #1 overall draft pick in 2014, and no one that I've seen has him outside the Top 5. He's that good.
I think the most exciting part about Teddy being the face of the program is the way he represents both himself and this University. From quitting football to help his mother battle though cancer at a young age, volunteering at camps for the underprivileged, visiting cancer patients at the hospital in his free time, staying out of trouble when it's so easy to get "caught" in a bad situation nowadays, (See: Manziel, Johnny), Teddy just seems to get it. For all the awards, accomplishments, accolades and hype, Teddy has remained level-headed and focused on the goal at hand. Championships. Just like Bridgewater, we all know that UofL wouldn't be ranked #9 in the preseason poll nor would they have accomplished any of their amazing feats over the last two years without the rest of the players surrounding Teddy on a day in and day out basis. Teddy may be the head, but all the moving parts and pieces and behind the scenes work is what has ultimately created this growing giant. This season, hopefully that hard work culminates into something we could have never anticipated just three short years ago. The challenging part is that it will take the same amount of dedication to continue this progression after Teddy is long and gone and we are competing against the likes of Clemson, Florida St, Miami and others for ACC titles, but the groundwork has been laid. Teddy recently talked about the back story behind his new "G.U.M.P." moniker. He said that "being Great Under Major Pressure doesn't only involve sports, but everyday life decisions we make and obstacles we overcome". I think he's proven to us from both an athletic standpoint and on a personal level he indeed is G.U.M.P. even though his life, at times, has been quite the box of chocolates.
Teddy has a twitter account, shown above, and you should follow him. I just couldn't bring myself to make a joke or a stupid comment today for some reason. Instead I'll just give you a few of my favorite pictures of the man himself...
Also a big fan of the photo of him giving a high five to the kid after practice...but couldn't find it.