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The Cardinal Countdown: 12 Days Until Kickoff

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West Virginia Mountaineers v Louisville Cardinals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

#12 Trey Smith

Class: RS Junior

Ht/Wt: 6-0/220

Position: Running Back

Hometown: Madison, MS

Twitter: @Trey12smith

Thoughts: While the name Trey Smith wasn’t necessary on the tip of everyone’s tongue 12 months ago6 months ago3 months ago…3 weeks ago, it certainly is now. Once Fall camp started Petrino in no uncertain terms said that Trey, at that point in time, was the man taking the lead in the running back room as a starter, and moments later Kolby Smith backed that statement up. I think more than a few heads were cocked to the side with that declaration as many projected Trey to certainly be in the mix of the big three but not necessarily the go-to option come Week 1. Trey Smith: Allow myself to reintroduce myself.

Trey, as many of you recall was a nice story on signing day a few years ago as he is the son of former Jacksonville Jaguar Jimmy Smith. Jimmy just so happened to play his best football in Jack-town (don’t call it that) while a coach named Bobby Petrino lead the offensive unit. Trey came in as an “athlete” out of high school and Petrino was trying to play him literally everywhere except kicker and punter just to get him on the field. Wideout. running back, inside linebacker, back to running back…

Trey settled in at the running back spot last year but even with the rash of injuries he didn’t see a ton of time, appearing in only five games (four of which were blowouts) and only getting 21 attempts. This production, in a season where the Cards could have used another back, was the reason I believe many were so confused with his propulsion to the top of the charts a few weeks ago, but let us not forget…a lot can happen in a year.

Trey dropped a little weight, gained some speed, and by all appearances has built up his strength in the weight room as well, not to mention another season in the offense, learning the playbook, understanding assignments, etc. On media day last week Trey was very humble in his approach but also very direct in his mindset that he had waited his turn and was ready to show folks what he could do given the opportunity. If you go back and watch some of his carries last year he certainly has good vision and isn’t afraid to introduce contact. While he may lack some of the “burst” of Williams and Wilson, he doesn’t hesitate to make a read and drive for additional yardage.

My praise on this countdown for Dae Williams was very high, and I really like what Colin Wilson can do as well, but maybe I, like many others, am undervaluing what Trey brings to the table. He’s never going to be the sole option out of the backfield, but they don’t need him to be. What the Cards need week one against a tough defensive front is a confident back that values the ball and isn’t scared to run right into the teeth of the defense. A player that knows the playbook, knows his assignments, and can lay a block on a crashing defensive end. If Trey is the guy who can do those things consistently than by all means, give him the reps. Disciplined, mature, and knowledge usually wins out…and it doesn’t hurt that might have a little something to prove to his doubters as well.

Sweet Tweet:

Trey retweeted this from WLKY, and while the message is important I had to watch it three times because the first two I was distracted by Trey Smith looking YACKED up…with a capital YACK. Hat tip to Joe Midday and Trey putting in work this offseason.

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#12 Marlon Character

Class: Sophomore

Ht/Wt: 6-1/195

Position: Cornerback

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Twitter: @riptrizzle

Thoughts: Ask a casual fan about the Cards new additions this season in the secondary and a typical response would include a comment about transfers Rodjay Burns, or PJ Mbanasor, or maybe the freshman Chandler Jones, but flying completely under the radar is the February JUCO addition Marlon Character Jr.

Marlon came out of Grady High School as a four star prospect, Top 250 player nationally that had an offer from just about every Power 5 program east of the Mississippi, including Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Ohio State. Marlon ultimately chose Auburn and was getting plenty of praise from the staff for his athletic ability and willingness to compete. Marlon took a redshirt in 2016 before ultimately leaving the Auburn program in May last year. After enrolling at Northwest Mississippi Community College Marlon announced his commitment to South Carolina a few months later, planning to enroll for the 2018 season, but the Cards staff had other plans. Marlon, when healthy, played some quality football last year for NMCC, grabbing 28 tackles, breaking up seven passes, blocking a couple kicks, and even snatched an interception, placing him squarely as the #1 JUCO safety in the nation. The Cards staff saw in 2017 that the secondary was going to need some help with the departure of Jaire, Chucky, Tru, etc and the sirens song of immediate playing time was too much for Character to resist, and he pledged his commitment to Louisville back in February. Check out some of his tape from back in high school below.

While his name may still be somewhat unfamiliar I don’t think it will take long for everyone to see what Marlon is capable of this year. While I’ve still yet to see an official depth chart everything I’ve read from fall camp says that Marlon is heavy in the competition for one of the starting corner spots opposite Mbanasor and even if he doesn’t win that job (I think he will) you’d be hard pressed to convince me he isn’t a starter at the nickel spot. I told you back on Day 100 that I was excited about a secondary that took a lot of beatings last year, Marlon is one reason why.

Sweet Tweet:

It’s a little after 7:00am and I’m already fighting the battle in my head. Tacos or BBQ for dinner tonight...? The struggle is real.