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National Signing Day Recap: Defense

A secondary of priority

Boston College v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

National Signing Day has come and gone for 2017, with the Cardinals landing the 32nd ranked class in the nation, according to the 247 Sports Composite rankings. Some of the Cards top recruits in this class will play on defense, with the possible exception of a UK legacy who spurned both the Wildcats and the Irish to play for head coach Bobby Petrino. For the offense, the main priority was to recruit and rebuild the offensive line. For the defense, those efforts have been placed on getting new talent in the secondary, as Louisville has added seven new players to the back end of the defense.

You can review Louisville’s offensive signees here.

Defensive Line/Linebacker

*Listing the LB/DL signees together as a lot of these guys are interchangeable at either position.

Committing to Louisville in July, Jones decided he couldn’t wait to be a Cardinal and chose to enroll early. He was only offered by five schools; Louisville, UConn, Mississippi State, Northwestern, and Georgia State.

Etheridge is a big linebacker, coming in to the program already standing at 6’3” and weighing in at 210 lbs. Despite committing to Louisville in July, he was still projected to head to West Virginia, according the Crystal Ball projections. He held 10 offers, notably from Maryland, Virginia Tech, Louisville, West Virginia, and Pitt.

Malik Clark was going Louisville all the way after receiving his offer. He attended Louisville’s camp back in July, after which he named the Cardinals his leader, then decided to end his recruitment by committing to the program. His only other two offers were from Murray State and Florida A&M. Let’s hope the staff is seeing something with Clark that not everyone else is on this under-recruited prospect from Georgia.


The most highly publicized recruit in this year’s class is cornerback Russ Yeast. His dad was a standout player at rival Kentucky, but Russ decided to go his own path and make his legacy as a Cardinal. He is one of the highest rated players of this class, and holds offers from some blue blood programs such as Notre Dame, Alabama, Auburn, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Ole Miss. There was drama in Yeast’s recruitment all the way up till signing day as Notre Dame was making a late push to flip Yeast.

There is some speculation that Yeast will play wide receiver in college (he’s definitely talented enough to do so), but I’d imagine he gets his first shot at playing time at defensive back as Louisville is well-stocked in talented receivers. Whichever position he ultimately ends up at, it is definitely a win in landing Yeast.

Johnson is a 6’2” cornerback from Chaminade-Madonna Prep in Florida. His offer list isn’t very lengthy, with offers Louisville, Pittsburgh, and South Florida. Keith Heyward was the primary recruiter for Johnson.

Kaheem Roach had a pretty active recruitment. He received offers from LSU, Auburn, Louisville, Illinois, UCF, and Temple. He took an unofficial visit to Louisville’s campus in early June and then committed a month later, however, that did not stop him from taking visits to other schools as he took back-to-back visits to Miami. The Louisville coaching staff was able to slow any momentum Miami might’ve had by getting Roach to take an official visit in January, and made things official a couple of weeks later by signing the composite 3-star from Florida.


CJ Avery is a talented safety prospect from the South who enrolled early at Louisville. Being one of the top prospects from the heart of S-E-C country, Avery has all of the offers from local SEC powers that you’d expect. His primary recruiter was Cort Dennison, and it’s pretty impressive what Dennison was able to accomplish in landing Avery. Avery took a visit to Tennessee, Clemson, Florida State, Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn, and Cal. Despite visiting those campuses throughout the country, Avery decided that Louisville was the best place for him.

Strange joins fellow safety commit CJ Avery in making his way to campus as an early enrollee. He had 28 offers, but the race really came down to Miami and Louisville. Strange is a big prospect, standing at 6’3” at 190 lbs, with room to add on some muscle after spending some time in the weight room.

Smith decided to stay relatively close to home by turning down offers from Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Penn State, and Syracuse. It was pretty clear that Smith was going to be a Cardinal as he took a total of five visits to campus. He did check out the campuses of Notre Dame, Indiana, and Penn State, but decided to stick closer to his home of Cincinnati and play for the Cardinals.

Rodney Owens is another recruit who is somewhat close to Louisville as the safety from Nashville will make his way north this fall for his first semester of college. He has six offers in total, but Louisville, Georgia Tech, and the hometown program Vanderbilt are his most prestigious. He visited both Louisville and Vanderbilt, but made his commitment to the Cardinals in early June.

Long Snapper

The only special team’s player in this year’s class, Mitch Hall makes his way to the Ville from North Carolina. Hall played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He was recruited by Tony Grantham.