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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Benjamin Ratajczak, the son of Cardinal super fans Whitney and Victor Ratajczak, is ready to see Sheldon Rankins realize his dream Thursday night.

I_medium In a few hours, Louisville football will have a player selected in the first round of the NFL Draft for the fifth time in the last three years. Here's a look at where 30 different mock drafts have Sheldon Rankins going.

I look forward to the Detroit Lions selection whoever that Boston College player that Rankins jumped over during his touchdown run was. At least the Reds are good.

I_medium John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader says recent draft production shows exactly why Louisville has been dominating Kentucky on the gridiron.

You don't need to be a football fanatic to figure out why Louisville has dominated archrival Kentucky over the past five years.

You need only study the history of the spectacle that begins Thursday night in Chicago when commissioner Roger Goodell strides to the podium and announces the start off the 2016 NFL Draft.

A little later in the evening, probably between the 10th and 15th selections of the first round, a team will turn in a draft card containing the following name and information: Sheldon Rankins, defensive tackle, University of Louisville.

It will be the continuation of a trend. If Rankins indeed is chosen Thursday — which nearly every mock draft predicts — it will mark the fifth first-round pick U of L has produced over the past three seasons, including at least one in each of those three seasons.

During that time, Kentucky has had just one first-round pick, he being defensive end Bud Dupree, selected by Pittsburgh with the 22nd overall pick last year, making the Georgia native the first ex-Cat to hear his name called in the first round since Dewayne Robertson in 2003.

The disparity doesn't stop there. Over the past 10 years, Louisville has had 33 players taken in the draft. Kentucky has had 15. Over the past five years, 18 Cardinals have been chosen, compared to seven Wildcats.

I_medium Louisville is high on the list of 2017 guard Matt Coleman from Oak Hill.

I_medium The buzz yesterday from the NFL Draft folks on the Interwebs was that Sheldon Rankins is now more likely than not to be drafted in the top 10, and could go as high as No. 4 to the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas is one of three teams that Rankins has had formal visits with. I don't know if that means he had to wear a tux, but apparently formal visits are an actual thing in the days leading up to the draft.

I_medium Gary Stevens reppin'

This tweet also produced arguably the greatest "well actually" moment in BBN Twitter history.

Lotta things to discuss here.

First, for some reason Gary Stevens doesn't get the respect of being referred to as a human being. Instead he's an "it" who apparently isn't even deserving of the apostrophe that he's owed. No way to treat a three-time Kentucky Derby winner who also did an admirable job on the big screen in Seabiscuit.

Second, let's talk about "at best." This tweet is perfectly indicative of a troubling trend where these two words are lobbed onto the end of statements where they have no earthly place. Micah's main contention here, I believe, is that the Cardinal bird on Gary Stevens' hat isn't an accurate depiction of a legitimate avian species. That being the case, it's implied that the depiction has to be that of a fictional variety. The term "at best" would indicate that something below the fictional genre exists in this equation. What does that sub-sub-species entail? Only the dark mind of Micah Pearson knows.

Finally, the need to point out that a rendering of Louisville's mascot isn't an accurate portrait of a real bird is Exhibit 9,547,653 in the argument that Kentucky fans will legitimately argue about anything when U of L is involved. That said, I think all college merchandise being actual photos of the mascots their school's teams are named after would be hilarious, so I'm in favor of the change taking place. You're an inspiration, Micah.

I_medium The ladies of Louisville lacrosse will begin their ACC Tournament run Thursday night at 7:30 in the quarterfinals against third-seeded Notre Dame. The Cards, who ended the regular season with three consecutive losses, defeated the Fighting Irish 10-9 in overtime back on March 5.

You can see the full tournament bracket and schedule here.

I_medium Congrats to the Heldermans on tying the knot. We all hope you're having a wonderful time in Cancun.

I_medium I wrote about how Villanova's championship has officially ushered in the start of a fresh era for the "don't call us the new Big East" Big East. You can read that here.

I_medium Louisville softball sort of unraveled in the final inning last night and dropped a 2-1 decision to 11th-ranked Kentucky.

I_medium Recognize, Draymond. The 2012 Sweet 16 is forever.

I_medium Louisville's Kaylin Morissette and Cortnee Daley were named to the 2016 All-ACC Women's Lacrosse Team, as voted upon by the league's head coaches and announced on Wednesday. Morissette, who led Louisville with 34 goals and 17 assists this season, earned first team honors. Daley was named to the second team.

I_medium Luke Winn hands out the rest of his efficiency awards for the 2015-16 college hoops season.

I_medium Seven U of L track and field athletes have been named to the ACC's All-Academic Team.

I_medium Louisville City FC scored a rain-soaked draw at Slugger Field last night.

I_medium The CCBM loves Stonehenge almost as much as Iceland.

I_medium Louisville's Taylor Stone has been selected to USA Field Hockey's Under-19 National Team's Germany Tour roster.

I_medium In two years, Idaho will reportedly become the first football program to go from FBS to FCS, when it joins the Big Sky Conference. The Vandals, who are currently coached by Paul Petrino, got the boot from the Sun Belt earlier this year, and decided it would be more financially beneficial to move down a level than to compete as an independent.

It will be interesting to see if other schools with struggling programs follow this lead in the coming decade.

I_medium Todd Grantham explains why Sheldon Rankins is so special, and why he'll be a star in the NFL.

"He's the best player that I've coached that puts his hand in the dirt on all three downs since I've been back in college," Grantham said. "And he's a guy that can win one-on-one blocks up front in the run game. He has range to affect plays outside of him, he can affect the passer, and he can play multiple positions.

"Against Kentucky, he played an end position for the first time since the second game of the season, and truthfully the same thing happened in the bowl game when Trevon (Young) got hurt. Just from a rotation standpoint, Sheldon had to play end as well as tackle. He can play multiple spots. Then you start adding his character, his work ethic and what he's going to bring to your locker room, he's a slam-dunk first-round pick. Easy."

Scouts have seen the same in Rankins starting with his standout performance in the Senior Bowl, when many pundits noted the way he dominated one-on-one drills. ESPN draft expert Todd McShay has Rankins going No. 12 overall to New Orleans in his last mock draft.

If Rankins does go in the first round, it would mark the third consecutive year Louisville has had a first-round pick after going four straight years without one. Though Louisville won't have a school-record 10 players drafted, as it did a year ago, there still is a shot at history. The highest Louisville player ever drafted was Ken Kortas, who went No. 9 to St. Louis in 1964.

I_medium If you missed the news last night, Louisville basketball has hired Oldsmar Christian coach Jordan Fair to its staff. The 26-year-old Fair has led Oldsmar Christian to a 115-30 record over four years, won back-to-back SIAA regular season titles and made three consecutive state Final Four appearances.

I_medium And finally, Kade McClure tied a career-high with seven strikeouts and moved to 8-0 on the season as the Louisville baseball team hammered FIU 7-0 yesterday at Jim Patterson Stadium. The Cards are back in action tomorrow for the first of a three-game non-conference set against St. John's.