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The Cardinal Countdown: 9 Days Until Kickoff

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Allstate Sugar Bowl - Louisville v Florida Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

#9 Jaylen Smith

Class: Senior

Ht/Wt: 6-4-220

Position: Wide Receiver

Hometown: Pascagoula, MS

Twitter: @JaylenSmith_12

Thoughts: Jaylen Smith stepped onto the field last year and did exactly what Petrino and Lamar needed him to do. He became a clear #1 receiver. Having been a decent piece of the offense two seasons prior it was key that Jaylen take on the top spot and not fall back into a complimentary position. We heard all last offseason that Lamar was going to be more of a pocket passer and Jaylen was hoping to reap the rewards of that decision. He did.

Jaylen came out of the gate hot, racking up 17 rec for 300 yds, or a 17.64yd/rec average in his first two games, lighting up both Purdue and UNC. He was statistically one of the top wideouts in the country, and then…wrist injury. Second half of the Clemson game when things weren’t going great to begin with Jaylen gets dinged and some fear arises that he could be gone for a long time. Fortunately Jaylen only missed three games (Kent/MurrayNC St) but from a purely selfish standpoint those were three games he could have padded his stats and possibly helped the Cards pick up a ‘W’ against NC State. Jaylen had a couple ‘slow’ games by his standards late in the year but even missing three games (25% of the season) he still finished as the Cards leading receiver in yardage, receptions, average, and yards/game average. In fact his 98yds/gm average was good enough to put him at #9 nationally, and his 980yds total had him at #32 nationally, playing a full three games less than the majority of the 31 guys above him.

The 2018 season is a year that a healthy Jaylen can bump his name up onto a national level. We all saw the unfortunate appendectomy surgery a few weeks ago but all signs point to a full recovery and the potential for him to be ready to go Week 1. I think most fans locally consider Jaylen a top wide receiver but I think Puma can catapult this whole position group into one of the best in the country, not just the ACC.

It hasn’t been talked about much but Jaylen will go down as a four year contributor who has the chance to be considered statistically one of the best to ever do it at Louisville….

-If Jaylen can maintain his 17.4yd/rec avg in 2018 he’ll remain at #9 all time (min 50 catches) for his career. If he bumps it up by just 1 yard (18.4yd/rec) he becomes Top 5 all time.

-If Jaylen has two more 100 receiving yard games he’ll move into the Top 10 in career 100 yard games, and if he replicates last year (4 games w/ 100+yd) he’ll slide into Top 6 all time.

-If Jaylen can pull in at least 35 receptions in 2018 he’ll move into the Top 10 in career receptions, and if he replicates last year’s output (60rec) he’ll move into the Top 5 all time.

-If Jaylen can get 77 yards receiving this year he will move into Top 10 in career receiving yardage, if he can replicate last year’s output (980yds) he’ll move into #2 all time. #2!!

Soak it in folks. It was nice to get blessed with the offensive firepower of Lamar Jackson the last three years but the young man had some certifiable weapons around him that are still on campus and will be wearing the Red & black this season.

Sweet Tweet:

You think some lame ol’ appendix was fitting to keep this man down? Don’t need it, cut it out!

***

#9 CJ Avery

Class: Sophomore

Ht/Wt: 5-11/221

Position: Linebacker

Hometown: Grenada, MS

Twitter: @Averyy_Sports

Thoughts: CJ Avery walked through the doors at the football complex last January, a full 4 months before his “official” senior year of high school completed. Avery put in the time and energy to complete his academic work ahead of schedule and become an early enrollee for the Cards last season. When questioned about it he responded that he was ready to get to work on becoming a better player, and those few extra months could help him prepare to see the field as a true freshman. Turns out CJ was right. Avery came in for Spring ball last year and raised eyebrows quickly, showing off his athleticism and his frame that many coaches said resembled that of a player who had been in their program for two or three years. Avery earned the respect he wanted in the Spring, and then earned the playing time he wanted during the fall. Avery appeared in all 13 games last year in a combination of special teams play and getting two deep reps at linebacker. Finishing 2017 with 25 tackles (including a few that made me hurt for the guy he laid out) and a fumble recovery Avery wasn’t an afterthought on defense, he was a nice part of the puzzle. So, what does the sophomore have in store for us this year?

In my opinion there isn’t much more you could ask for from a true freshman than to compete hard enough that you can’t keep him off the field, and that’s literally what happened last year. The staff could see Avery’s ability to not only make big hits but to cover space and most importantly not be a liability. Since we’re now 9 days from kickoff and have still yet to a see a depth chart I’m going to go with my gut and say that CJ Avery is one of your starting outside backers Week 1, likely replacing the departed Stacy Thomas, and he doesn’t let go of the job all year. The staff was singing his praises during the Spring and I think he has the talent to be a 3 year starter on a defense we hopefully see slide back into that Top 20 spot over the next couple years.

Sweet Tweet:

Could not agree more. Could watch that video 50 times and still be just as hyped on the 50th time. We’re almost there folks. Almost there.

(P.S. ‘Imagine Dragons’ could legit retire on the money they make off sports promos alone, right?)