Louisville football, facing the departure of several key pieces to the 2015 defense, signed two key replacements on junior college football mid-year national signing day. Defensive lineman Chris Williams and defensive back Ronald Walker, both consensus top 100 junior college players, signed with the Cardinals today and will enroll in January 2016. Both will participate in spring practice next year.
Walker (6'2, 185) is rated the #29 junior college player in the country by ESPN and the #67 junior college player by 247Sports. Those services rank him the #4 and #6 JUCO cornerback respectively. His ranking being what it is, Walker might find his home at Louisville at safety. He's a very physical defender who could easily slide into the role occupied by Josh Harvey-Clemons, who is reportedly still mulling his NFL future. With the proliferation of spread and no-huddle offenses on Louisville's schedule, any time you can add another quality, versatile defensive back it helps.
Williams (6'1, 280) was a four-star defensive lineman out of high school who signed with Ole Miss originally. 247Sports rates him the #50 overall junior college player the #11 junior college defensive tackle. Williams is physically in the mold of players Todd Grantham has sought to play along the defensive line at Louisville. He can play defensive end because he's still a pretty quick player for his size. When needed, he can move inside as well. The staff reportedly has sold Williams on the opportunity to come in and fill in the role played the past four years by Sheldon Rankins. If he can even come close to approximating that, Louisville's defensive line which could still return Drew Bailey, GG Robinson, DeAngelo Brown, Kyle Shortridge, Johnny Richardson, and Devonte Fields will be a team strength again in 2016.
Louisville is not done adding mid-year players. Kordell Slater, a high school prospect from central Florida, will graduate in December and enroll in January as well, but the school has not announced that yet. We'll post analysis separately when it does.