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The Cardinal Countdown: 17 Days Until Kickoff

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Memphis v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

#17 Dorian Etheridge

Class: Sophomore

Ht/Wt: 6-3/233

Position: Linebacker

Hometown: Charleston, WV

Twitter: @D_Shmoney_17

Thoughts: While others may argue for Becton, Bentley, or Dez I’m giving the nod to Etheridge as my biggest first year impact player in 2017. If I’m being honest part of that is simply because his play last year came as such a surprise. I knew about Dez, and anybody with two eyes and a brain could see Becton was gonna be a problem up front, but Dorian, straight out of the gate in Fall ball last year was running first team reps and never looked back.

Even the biggest Etheridge supporters would have a hard time believing that the #50 rated outside linebacker coming out of high school would walk onto Louisville’s campus, start all 13 games, be the first true freshman to ever lead the team in tackles (83), and get named a freshman All- American...

[Petrino three days into camp]

“Man, I’m glad we called that guy...”

Dorian was all over the place in 2017, making plays in the middle of the field, stalking on the outside, penetrating gaps, making strip plays, he was literally doing everything you need to see from a outside linebacker, and he was doing it at 18 years old. If you’ve been following the Cards during the Spring, through the summer, and now into the beginning of Fall camp you’ve bound to have heard Dorian’s name come up a time or two. The coaches are still over the moon with what Etheridge is bringing to the team not only on the field but off of it as a developing leader in the position group. For those who read Keith Wynne’s breakdown of the VanGorder defense last week maybe you were in the same boat as me, thinking who on the current roster translates well to each of the various defensive sets. Obviously the versatility and play making ability of Etheridge will keep him on the field in the base defense (4-3) and the slightly modified 4-3 Over with the OLB covering a TE or playing up on the line, but I also think Dorian is a good fit in the nickel packages and dime packages as well as an outside backer or playing in the middle. He showed enough speed to not get burnt in coverage and enough form tackling to bring a man down in open space.

TL;DR version, he’s damn good, and appears to continue getting better in a defensive system that may highlight his talents even more than what we saw in 2017. Be afraid.

Sweet Tweet:

Two years ago Etheridge was just a recruit soaking in his visit…now he’s preparing to be a defensive leader on a unit that is looking to prove the doubters wrong. A lot can change in 24 months…like a whole stadium addition, and a new stadium name, and finally getting rid of those inflatable Cardinal heads.

***

#17 Drew Zaubi

Class: Freshman

Ht/Wt: 6-3/200

Position: Quarterback

Hometown: Louisville, KY (Product of South Oldham High School)

Twitter: @DZaubi

Thoughts: In a flashback to 2014, Petrino is once again on a mission to gather any and every quarterback within a 100 mile radius of Louisville’s campus and bring him onto the squad. Zaubi was a three year starter for the South Oldham Dragons at QB and had some decent numbers in his career, leading the squad to a 10-2 record and being named to the “All-Area Team’ in the CJ his senior season. After almost pulling the trigger to attend East Coast Prep and try and to reclassify into 2019, Zaubi decided to take one of the multiple offers he had to walk-on to a program instead, looking to move to the next chapter in his career. Turning down a scholarship from Morehead State and passing on the walk-on proposal from Purdue, EKU, Ball State, and a host of others, Drew picked the Cards to learn under Petrino and stay close to home.

I joked above but many times but if you’re going to bring a walk-on player onto the roster, and you got a spot or two to fill, it only makes sense to try and grab a quarterback. Nine times out of ten they are the sharpest player on the team, have a solid grasp of the playbook, a dedicated leader, and someone who has soon they can be coached. Even if they never play a snap in a live game that personality translates to those around them, pushing the starting QBs, acting as a solid scout team QB, and passing his knowledge onto other position players in meeting/film, etc. Glad to have Drew on board and I’m sure his presence will help the team moving forward.

Sweet Tweet:

“I was looking for my phone. I dropped it because I was trying to text while eating my burger and my hands got all slick and stuff. Plus I needed the extra light to read this bogus ‘distracted driving’ ticket I got earlier. Crazy cops man.”