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Way Too Early 2017 Football Depth Chart: Offense

The 2016 season ended in a disappointing fashion, so let’s start talking about next year.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Louisiana State vs Louisville Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

I will start this post by pointing out that my last Way Too Early Depth Chart predicted that Tyler Ferguson would be the starter after the Belk Bowl. Therefore, you should take all of this with a grain of salt and have some fun with it. Even though this is an educated prediction of what the depth chart will look like next year, things change all the time and everything is fluid. Feel free to chime in in the comments.


  1. Lamar Jackson
  2. Jawon Pass
  3. Kyle Bolin/Ethan Horton

It’s obvious that Lamar Jackson will be the starting quarterback next season so we can go ahead and bypass him. I believe that Jawon Pass will be the primary backup next season for a couple of reasons. For one, I think that Pass will be able to run the same offense that Jackson runs which will be needed if Jackson were to get injured. Secondly, I think that Kyle Bolin could potentially transfer if he graduates this spring/summer. Bolin could be a starter at plenty of schools at the FBS level and it would make sense for him to explore that option over being a backup during his last season. Incoming freshman Malik Cunningham will likely follow the same plan as Pass and redshirt while dressing for each game.


  1. Jeremy Smith
  2. Malik Williams
  3. Dae Williams or Colin Wilson

Louisville enters the 2017 season with a stable of running backs that are very similar to one another. Every back on the roster is somewhere in the range of 220-230 pounds and all are on the taller side. In my opinion, Louisville needs a big play running back to team up with Jackson so that teams can’t key on one or the other on read option plays. Louisville also needs an upgrade in overall team speed and these backs don’t really help from that standpoint.

I don’t think that the running back position will be a position of weakness or anything of that sort but I don’t think that the offense will have a guy as reliable as Brandon Radcliff to step up. Smith is a known commodity that is best utilized in short yardage. Malik Williams provides some intrigue as he has shown some flashes of being a potential home run threat. Dae Williams redshirted this year, but he didn’t come in with a high pedigree and I will have to see how he looks in the spring before I truly know how he projects.

Colin Wilson is somewhat of a wildcard for me. He’s a composite 4* prospect and he has a good amount of high level offers. However, Wilson’s all but one of his offers came during or directly after his sophomore season and only Notre Dame was actively recruiting him before his commitment. Wilson doesn’t wow you on film like most players with his ranking and offer list, either. He seems to have turned things around a bit later in his senior season after being benched last year and early this season. I would expect the staff to give Wilson every opportunity to come in and compete for the starting job but I don’t see that happening, personally.



  1. Reggie Bonnafon
  2. Seth Dawkins
  3. Devonte Peete


  1. Traveon Samuel
  2. Keon Wakefield
  3. Josh Johnson


  1. Jaylen Smith
  2. Dez Fitzpatrick
  3. Emonee Spence

Wide receiver is the position on this team that excites fans the most. Louisville has landed multiple receivers in the last few classes that were in the upper half of the class from a rankings standpoint. Louisville will have two new starters next year, so the competition should be great to watch in the spring. We could also see some movement at the position if Bobby Petrino choses to move Reggie Bonnafon to an outside spot.

Jaylen Smith is set to have a breakout year as the top returning target for Jackson. Smith needs to be more consistent with his hands and he needs to be more crisp in his short route running. I think that Reggie could be used better as an outside receiver. He didn’t really excel on the short crossing routes that the slot receiver runs often. I think that he could be better utilized with his size and long speed on the outside in Jamari Staples’ spot.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Justin Marshall or Cory Reed end up getting good minutes in the rotation over some of the more veteran players. There’s a reason that Louisville targeted so many receivers this year and they really need more speed at the position this year. Josh Johnson could get on the field as a return man this year and could pass up Keon Wakefield if he hasn’t improved in his redshirt year like coaches may have hoped. There could be a real shakeup at this spot with so many “new” players getting their chance.



  1. Micky Crum
  2. Charles Standberry


  1. Jordan Davis
  2. Austin Cummins

The tight end position will look completely different next year while also being pretty familiar. Micky Crum should be in line to retake his starting spot at the H-Back position vacated by Cole Hikutini. Crum was the starter there at the beginning of the 2015 season but lost it to the future NFL pick. Crum has been in the doghouse a lot during his time here but I think a full offseason to focus should help him out.

Jordan Davis is a former 4* who transferred in from Texas A&M and he should see the field plenty. Davis is a big guy at 265 pounds so he should be a better fit in the blocking role. However, I haven’t been able to see Davis play and he could be athletic enough to split out and run the deep routes of the H-Back spot.



  1. Geron Christian
  2. Linwood Foy


  1. Cole Bentley
  2. Chandler Jones


  1. Robbie Bell
  2. Nathan Scheler


  1. Lukayus McNeil
  2. Kenny Thomas


  1. Ronald Rudd
  2. Toriano Roundtree

There isn’t a position on this team that needs a shakeup more than the offensive line. I don’t think that there is any way that Louisville can start a player that was a backup this year on the line next year. Common sense would tell you that if a player wasn’t good enough to play ahead of Kiola Mahoni or Khalil Hunter this year, how can they improve to the point that they will be better next year? The line needs a shot of new life in 2017.

Ronald Rudd and Cole Bentley are incoming players that I think (hope?) will be in the starting lineup before the end of spring. Bentley is a guy that has seen his profile rise a bit during his senior year but he only holds 3 other power five offers. The lack of offers is what we’ve seen with other linemen that haven’t played too well so far but Bentley does seem to be legit. Rudd is a former UCLA commit that will come to UofL from the JUCO ranks. Like Bentley, there’s some rough history with players with a similar background. Mahoni and Hunter were JUCO transfers and some other players have come and gone already without seeing the field. It would be hard to imagine that either of these players wouldn’t be an upgrade at this point, but there is also some cause for concern.

Rudd will likely play tackle with Lukayus McNeil moving back to guard where he played in 2015. Robbie Bell seems to be the popular pick to move into the center spot after redshirting this season. Bell was a solid recruit coming out of high school and I would have loved to see him get some game minutes this year if the staff felt that he was the future there.