UofLSports.com has the latest football roster up and, of course, that means it's time to dig in and make any number of unwarranted assumptions and observations. That being the case, here's what struck me when reviewing the roster:
- For as much as he was a heralded wide receiver recruit, Charles Gaines is now a corner. This move was made late in spring practice and surprised some since Gaines was electric early on catching the call. Still, the coaches always felt he was a good enough athlete to see the field even earlier as a defensive back and it appears that has come to pass. With Michaelee Harris a redshirt freshman and Eli Rogers and DeVante Parker coming in this fall, the receiver position still has plenty of young talent without Gaines. The good news is Charlie Strong's philosophy - when its a tie, the athlete goes to the defense - has worked wonderfully before with Darius Ashley here and players like Reggie Lewis and Joe Haden at Florida. Gaines has all the potential in the world. This is a good sign for the future of the defense.
- Terrence Simien is back on the roster, and playing outside linebacker. This is good move for him because he is a very big kid to be playing safety (6'3, 220) and is in one of those between modes where he's not big enough to play every down at linebacker but isn't quick enough to play in the secondary against some of the offenses that Louisville will face this season. Simien can be that 5th defensive back in some of the 3-3-5 alignments Louisville will inevitably run due to the spread offenses it will face in Pittsburgh, South Florida, West Virginia, and others. He's big enough provide run support and cover in the flats, etc.
- Champ Lee has done the same thing and this might actually work out to be a really nice move for him. Lee came to Louisville as a defensive back but is now up over 200 pounds and much like Simien, is probably just a little too slow to crack the two deep in the secondary but is big enough (and will keep growing) to become an effective tweener linebacker. Cardinals fans will recall that this is precisely the route Daniel Brown took to becoming one of the team's best linebackers.
- Jalen Harrington, the freshman from Fern Creek, was always listed a safety, but on the first roster is a linebacker and that's where he'll be best. He reminds me of what Marcus Smith looked like his first day on campus. Long, tall, lean, with plenty of room to grow on that frame. I have been told he has a lingering knee issue that he'll likely take a redshirt on to help fix. Still, that linebacker position is about to be full of very talented players.
- I'm concerned that some of the guys that have been on campus for some time now really aren't getting that much bigger. Hunter Stout is entering his third year on campus and is still hovering at 290. Chris Acosta redshirted last season and is still just 275. Stout has a chance to be a good, quick left tackle but probably not at 290. I can't see how Acosta helps anywhere at just 275. An even bigger project - true freshman Aaron Epps arrived at 6'7, 250 pounds. He will most certainly redshirt this season and if he gets closer to 300 pounds in the next year or two could be every bit as good as Byron Stingily wound up being. On the bright side, true freshmen offensive linemen John Miller is a compact 6'2, 304 and Ryan Mack an impressive 6'5, 316. I have no doubt that one or both will see the field regularly by year's end.
- Jerrell Moore, listed will play wide receiver and this is probably for the best. He could easily take over Doug Beaumont's role in the slot, but is much faster than Doug. It's also a good move for him because with the return of Corvin Lamb, Louisville is suddenly very, very deep at tailback.
- At defensive tackle, Greg Scruggs is still listed as a defensive tackle at 270 pounds, but I believe you'll see him playing almost exclusively as a five technique defensive end. In fact it's really a perfect situation for Scruggs because at 270 he's not going to race upfield, but in the 4-3 under front that Louisville uses as its base defense he's much more difficult to block with a linebacker covering up the outside. I look for Scruggs to have a big, big year. The Cardinals also finally have some real beef at the position. Jamaine Brooks slimmed down to 328 and true freshman Jamon Brown arrives an imposing 6'6, 327 pounds. I expect Jamon to play as a freshmen at the nose tackle position and for Hurtt to rotate him, Brooks, and Salmon at the nose and let Dunn, Philon and at times Scruggs play at that three-technique weakside defensive tackle spot.
- Defensive end is young but it is in great shape for the future. In addition to Scruggs and Savoy, the seniors, there's sophomore Malcolm Mitchell. All have seen significant playing time. Then you add in the really young guns true sophomore BJ Butler (6'2, 265), true sophomore Marcus Smith (6'3, 251), and the true freshmen BJ Dubose (6'5, 240), Lorenzo Mauldin (6'4, 225), and Deiontrez Mount (6'5, 220). I bet you'll see Dubose and perhaps Mauldin from day one. Mount must have a redshirt year to get bigger. The wild part of looking at this defensive end group - Louisville loses Scruggs and Savoy, that's it. In 2012, Butler and Smith will just be juniors, Dubose, Mauldin, and Mount just sophomores or redshirt freshmen. The defensive line will go from a nightmare of a weakspot to a team strength in the next 12 months.
- It's not time to panic on Mike Romano, Gerod Holliman, or Eli Rogers but it is worth noting that as of now none are on the roster. All other true freshmen are on the team, healthy, and lifting in preparation for the fall.
- Defensive back Rashad Stewart is listed on the roster but he has transferred to an FCS school to play right away.
So there you are, random roster thoughts from me. Will football season finally get here already?