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The Cardinal Countdown: 17 Days Until Kickoff

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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

#17 James Quick

Class: Junior

Ht/Wt: 6-1/191

Position: Wide Receiver

Hometown: Louisville, KY (Product of Trinity High School)

Twitter: @Uno1Siete7

Thoughts: I’ve heard the same question asked in a multitude of ways to a wide range of people, but the answer is almost always the same. "Who is the breakout star for the University of Louisville in 2015?" The majority says you can go ahead and pencil in Mr. James Quick.

Quick came in with some hype, rightfully so, as some sites still consider him the highest ranked recruit to ever attend Louisville, but some of it may have been a  tad over the top. Quick played just fine as a freshman in the Watson system (6rec/73yds) but disappointed many because they expected him to be a large piece of the offense. If you look back to 2013 the Cards had Parker, Rogers, Copeland (3 NFL players) as well as De La Cruz, Robo Clark and Matt Milton. Hard to argue Quick coming in to unseat those top 3, and the second team was solid on many levels at that point as well. Throw in the fact that the Cards had a run first, run second, and run third offense and it wasn’t all that surprising to see his numbers lower than many expected. Last year Quick made the most of his opportunities in 12 games while learning another new system, finishing third on the team in receiving yards behind a first round draft pick (Parker) and a Senior in Eli Rogers (undrafted free agent by Steelers) who proved his worth  time and time again during his career. Quick also finished 2014 tied for third in receiving TD’s, second on the team in average yds/rec, second on the team in all-purpose yardage, and had the season’s longest reception (74yds) against FIU. When Parker went down I think most expected Quick to take on the bulk of the load and while he performed well the veterans Rogers, De La Cruz and Christian were the ones who seemed to take over. Thus, enter the naysayers once again. Quick seemed to finally find his role at Virginia leading the team in receptions but unfortunately will only be remembered for muffing a punt in the final minutes which many still point too as the reason for the loss. Amongst all the negativity of the week after the Virginia game Quick responded the next week with a career game against FIU (174yds/2TDs) looking to shake off the haters….but then trended down a couple games before Parker returned and ultimately took away catches from everyone else on the team.

While many thought Quick would be left off the return team this year after multiple close calls last season Petrino has said that Quick is still a top option, proving he has faith in his abilities as a return man. If you missed it in the N&N yesterday there was a nice article on Quick and how the coaches are working with all special teams players to instill the basics and fundamentals needed to be successful, including the old school 'Words or blanks’ drill. It may seem elementary but I could care less if we go back to Pop Warner drills as long as our consistency improves. At this point for me it’s strictly “whatever works”. When you point to a handful of special teams plays potentially affecting the win-loss column by one or even two games something obviously has to be done, and the staff knows that. I think Quick, along with the rest of the special teams units all improve and James gets back to showing flashes of what he did in his days at Trinity. He’s simply too athletic to not make an impact with the ball in his hands. It's funny to me because the up and down relationship fans have with Quick, fueled by lofty expectations and magnified with some potential head scratching plays is reminiscent of the one they had with another recent Card. Wayne Blackshear. Maybe when I have some time I can do a  statistical breakdown of each vs. expectations, etc but the career path has been fairly similar on a individual basis. Of course, by this point in his career Wayne had already brought home a couple Final Fours and a title so....balls in your court James.

While I may have missed a few picks over the last few years I’ve successfully pegged the leading receiver for UofL the last two seasons, neither of which many considered the #1 option, (Copeland and Rogers) so I take my prognostications fairly seriously in this category. I’ve looked at the tape, I’ve broken down the footwork, I’ve reviewed the hand placement, I’ve watched them all run routes frame by frame and I’ve finally made my decision. I may not be walking too far out on a limb this year but Quick gets my vote for leading receiver in 2015. The move to the slot, his second year in a system, the bond he has with both Gardner and Bonnafon, it all adds up to a great season for Quick at wide receiver and hopefully it will provide him some confidence in the return game as well. I hope this isn’t a case of the boy who cried wolf one too many times, but year three will be the coming out party for Quick as he then heads into a senior season on numerous watch lists and is being talked about by many as one of the best receivers in the country. The time is now. Sit back and watch.

Sweet Tweet:

Quick going straight Pitino with the Twitter account for fall camp, seeing him clapping and encouraging the other wideouts in the practice videos, hearing McGee say he is focused and committed, all of these things make me feel good about his play this year. I understand that being focused and being a great cheerleader doesn’t always transition to results on the field, but I think Quick is coming into his element as a leader and as a player ready to show others outside of the ACC what he can do.