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Dust settles, class of '08 finalized

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Ladies and gentlemen, your Louisville football recruiting class of 2008:

Darius Ashley      RB     5-9     182     Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)
Keith Baker         LB     6-3     230     Scotch Plains, N.J. (Scotch Plains-Fanwood)
Stephon Ball        TE     6-4     215     Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)
Ryan Barnes        OL     6-6     300     Carmel, Ind. (Carmel)
Mario Benavides   OL     6-4     285     Los Fresnos, Texas (Los Fresnos)
Jacques Caldwell  ATH     5-9     175     Garland, Texas (Garland)
Chris Campa       LB     6-2     220     Orlando, Fla. (Butler CC)
Maurice Clark      WR     6-3     200     Lake Elsinore, Calif. (Saddleback)
Jon Dempsey       LB      6-0     233     Visalia, Calif. (College of the Sequoias)
Damion Dixon      WR     6-3     180     Port Allen, La. (Port Allen)
Dexter Heyman     LB     6-3     225     Louisville, Ky. (Male)
Tyler Jessen         DT      6-2     300     Wichita, Kan. (Butler CC)
Rock Keys            TE     6-5     235     Collins, Miss. (Jones County JC)
Justin Mathews       S     6-2     215     Leaksville, Miss. (Jones County JC)
C.J. Millenbah       OL     6-4     295     San Diego, Calif. (Grossmont College)
Nate Nord            TE     6-5     230     Boca Raton, Fla. (West Boca Raton)
Chris Philpott         K     6-0     180     Atlanta, Ga. (St. Pius X)
Randy Salmon      DT     6-3     290     Stockbridge, Ga. (Stockbridge)
Greg Scruggs       DE     6-5     235     Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)
Byron Stingily       OL     6-6     295     Country Club Hills, Ill. (Joliet)
Zack Stoudt         QB     6-4     210     Columbus, Ohio (Dublin-Coffman)
Josh Wiley            S       6-1     200     Hattiesburg, Miss. (Pearl River CC)

Quick notes:

UofLSports.com has mini-biographies for every player in the class, but here are some highlights:

Darius Ashley  RB
5-9  182
Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)

Played for Steve Specht at St. Xavier High School... one of the best running backs in the state of Ohio... rated the 62nd best running back by Scout.com... rated a three-star prospect by Scout... also a three-star prospect by Rivals.com... ranked as the No. 20 player in the state of Ohio by Rivals... timed at 4.4 in the 40-yd dash... rated as the No. 17 overall all-purpose back in the nation... rushed 249 times for 1,583 yards and 17 touchdowns... missed time with an ankle injury... ran for over 1,000 yards in each of his final three seasons... rushed for 89 yards in a win over Elder... led St. Xavier to a perfect 15-0 record and a state championship win over Mentor, 27-0... rushed for a state-title record 272 yards on 36 carries... scored on a 27-yard run and had a 40-yarder... named the team's Best Offensive Back in 2007... selected first team All-GCL... ran 23 times for 205 yards in a win over Cincinnati Moeller -- his best statistical line during the regular season... chose Louisville over Northwestern, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, Boston College and Indiana.

Mario Benavides  OL
6-4  285
Los Fresnos, Texas (Los Fresnos)

Played for Scott Ford at Los Fresnos High School... enrolled at UofL in January and will participate in spring practice... rated the No. 33 offensive tackle and a three-star prospect by Scout.com... voted All-Metro co-Most Valuable Player as a senior... selected first team All-State, All-District and All-Metro as a junior... rated the No. 2 prospect in South Texas by Scout.com... three-time 32-5A All-District performer, received All-Valley twice, Associated Press All-State in 2006... was a big reason why Los Fresnos won back-to-back 32-5A District championships in 2006-07 and pancaked an astounding 200 defenders (45 in `05, 74 in `06, 81 in `07) in his three seasons for the Falcons... rated the No. 40 offensive guard prospect by Rivals.com... chose Louisville over Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Arizona, Baylor, UTEP, Houston and Iowa State.

Zack Stoudt QB
6-4  210
Columbus, Ohio (Dublin-Coffman)

One of the top quarterbacks in the state of Ohio...played for perennial power Dublin Coffman... threw for 3,547 yards while completing 65.5% of his passes (237 completions on 362 attempts)...threw 34 touchdowns against just 14 interceptions... named first team All-Ohio Division I (largest classification)... Central District Offensive Player of the Year... first team All-Metro by The Columbus Dispatch... first team All-Ohio Capital Conference..."Super 25"...led Dublin Coffman to a 13-1 mark and the Capital Conference and Region 3 championships... team advanced to the semifinals of the Ohio Division I playoffs...rated the nation's No. 19 pro-style quarterback by Rivals...rated Ohio's No. 18 overall prospect by Rivals...PrepStar All-Midwest Region...SuperPrep All-Midwest Team...rated No. 80 on Scout's Midwest Top 100 list...played under Coach Mark Crabtree...son of former pro quarterback Cliff Stoudt, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1977-83 and earned a pair of Super Bowl rings (1978 and 1979 seasons)...Cliff was a fifth-round draft choice of the Steelers after a record-setting career at Youngstown State...he later played for the USFL's Birmingham Stallions (1984-85) before concluding his pro career in the NFL with the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals (1986-88), Miami Dolphins (1989) and Dallas Cowboys (1991).

Josh Wiley S
6-1 200
Hattiesburg, Miss. (Pearl River CC)

Two-year starter... named second team All-District... played scholastically at Hattiesburg High School... named All-Area... voted the team's Most Valuable Player... three-year starter... guided team to a state championship in baseball... played catcher and outfield... chose Louisville over Marshall, Alabama, Southern Mississippi, West Virginia and Mississippi.

The class finish ranked 54th in the country by Rivals.com, and 53rd by Scout.com.

While the ranking services don't think too highly of the class, Steve Kragthorpe believes he has signed 22 players who will benefit the program in terms of both talent and character.

But don't try to tell the U of L coaches their class is ranked as low as sixth in the eight-team Big East Conference.

"I question their judgment," Kragthorpe said twice when talking about the rankings during his news conference at the Howard Schnellenberger Complex.

He did say there is "a whole lot of talent" in a signing class that has players from 12 states, including four from Ohio.

...

"I like this group of guys in terms of the fit they will give us in our program," Kragthorpe said. "I think they fit our needs in terms of some of these guys being able to come in here and immediately having an impact on our team.

"And they fit our needs in terms of character. We want to not only bring in good football players in our program, but guys who are going to stay here and be here for four or five years and do things the right way."

The staff at CollegeFootballNews.com takes a look at the class and deems Butler Community College defensive tackle Tyler Jessen the star. They also list linebacker Jon Dempsey and safety Josh Wiley - both junior college signees - as potential impact players.