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The Cardinal Countdown: 31 Days Until Kickoff

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AutoZone Liberty Bowl Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

#31 Malik Staples

Class: Sophomore

Ht/Wt: 6-1/222

Position: Linebacker

Hometown: Suwanee, GA

Twitter: @MalikStaples_1

Thoughts: Last season at this time I was highlighting Malik's strength and physicality, referring to him as another big body out of the backfield and spoke about how Kolby smith pegged him as a "bruiser" on NSD in 2016. I called for a redshirt because of the depth in front of him at the position. Instead, Petrino and Grantham called an audible (having seen his athleticism and his desire for contact) and the coaches decided to give Staples a shot at linebacker, and he accepted the challenge.

Less than two weeks into his new position Grantham was already praising his ability to learn the playbook, adapt to the subtle nuances at linebacker, and his ability to use his foot speed and strength to be in the correct position and make tackles. For a young man with limited time at that spot, it was pretty encouraging to see him slide right in and become what I considered a formidable threat to earn some PT in the next year or two. Once again, I was wrong. (It happens occasionally). Grantham was so impressed with Staples he became the only true freshman to get clock last season on defense, filling in at ILB on occasion, but becoming a mainstay on special teams, playing in all 13 games and finishing the year with 5 tackles. If you follow college football, and have read this countdown, you know special teams is the "gateway drug" for standout players to becoming a solid piece of the puzzle on either offense or defense the following season, and I think we're in line for that to happen once again. Staples will no doubt remain a key on special teams this year but back in the Spring he was already getting second team reps at ILB behind a couple other inexperienced players in Amonte Caban and CJ Avery. The potential for him to steal time in that role as a true Sophopmore is not only possible but extremely plausible and I wouldn't be stunned see coach Dennison give him some early run against Purdue while the game may still be in question.

I liked Staples last year as a running back, then I was impressed with him as a special teams player, and now I'm starting to really like his potential at linebacker. Better than all this though, the young man seems like a genuinely good dude. Try and watch this video and not smile...

Sweet Tweet:

We talkin bout spring? Spring? We're 31 days from kickoff and you wanna talk about spring? Not fall, not fall...but spring. That’s crazy man.

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#31 Jack Duane

Class: Junior

Ht/Wt: 5-10/165

Position: Wide Reciever

Hometown: Chatham, NJ

Twitter: N/A

Thoughts: I searched the web up and down looking for info and I couldn’t find...Jack. Duane appears to be a walk-on for the Cards out of New Jersey, playing both sides of the ball back in high school. I assume Jack will be another nice addition to the practice squad this year. Feel free to check out some video from him back in high school

Sweet Tweet: No twitter for Duane that I could locate so how about we take a moment to catch you all up on some videos from UofL that you may have missed the last few weeks…

Get to know Coach Lorenzo Ward

Get to know Coach Chris Klenakis

Behind the scenes at ACC “Media Days”