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Louisville Football team of the decade headlined by Lamar Jackson

As voted on by the Card Chronicle staff.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Louisville v Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As voted on by the Card Chronicle staff, here is your Louisville football team(s) of the decade (only contributions in 2010-19 counted).

*denotes unanimous selection



Lamar Jackson* (2015-17)

Imaging telling a Louisville fan midway through the decade that there would be a unanimous choice at quarterback on this team, and it wouldn’t be Teddy Bridgewater. A Heisman Trophy and 42 school records will do that. Teddy was tremendous here for three years, but this was a no-brainer.

Running Back

Bilal Powell (2010)

Louisville’s only two 1,000-yard rushers from the running back position bookended the decade. First, there was Bilal Powell, who went from something of an afterthought for three years to “the face of the program” in Charlie Strong’s first season on the job. Powell rushed for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games as a senior, picking up First Team All-Big East honors along the way and helping the Cards to a surprisingly successful 7-6 campaign in 2010.

Javian Hawkins (2018-19)

Just as Powell led the way for a surprising debut season from Charlie Strong, Javian Hawkins has been the catalyst for an overachieving year one under Scott Satterfield, despite no one expecting the redshirt freshman to earn the starting job heading into the year. All he’s done in his first year carrying the workload is rush for 1,420 yards in 12 games, good for the seventh-most rushing yards per game and the 10th-most rushing yards overall in the country.

Wide Receiver

DeVante Parker* (2011-14)

Another no-brainer selection, Parker was one of the top deep threats in the entire country throughout his college career. Despite seeing his senior season cut short by injury, the current Miami Dolphin and former Ballard Bruin left Louisville with 33 career touchdown catches, tied for the most in program history. He also ranks first at U of L in TD catches in a season (12), second in receiving yards in a single game (214), and fourth in career receiving yards (2,775).

Jaylen Smith (2015-18)

Lamar Jackson’s favorite target during their time at U of L together, Smith ranks sixth all-time at Louisville in career receiving yards (2,561). His 15 career touchdown catches are tied for the ninth-most at U of L, and his 152 career receptions put him at No. 10 on the all-time list.


Mario Benavides* (2010-12)

The U of L trend of centers starting for three/four years, having great careers, and then passing the torch to the long-term anchor of the O-Line continued when Eric Wood left and Mario Benavides stepped in. A First Team All-Big East performer in 2012, Benavides missed just four games in his college career, and was the heart and soul of an offensive line that helped the Cards go 11-2 and beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl in his final season.


John Miller* (2011-14)

A four-year starter, Miller was an all-conference performer as both a junior and senior before leaving Louisville to begin a still-active NFL career. He played four seasons with the Buffalo Bills but currently suits up for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jake Smith (2010-14)

Like many Louisville offensive linemen, Smith moved around a lot throughout his college career, which makes him sort of difficult to place. He started every game at guard besides the Sugar Bowl (illness) for the 2012 Cardinal team that won the Big East, and was then a First Team All-AAC performer a year later after making the move to center to take over for the graduated Benavides.


Jamon Brown (2011-14)

Despite starting his college career at defensive tackle, Brown was quickly flipped to offense by Charlie Strong and company and saw significant action on the O-Line as a true freshman. The Fern Creek product then became a three-year starter, earning First Team All-AAC honors in 2013 and Second Team All-ACC honors a year later. After stints with the Rams and Giants, Brown currently suits up for the Atlanta Falcons.

Mekhi Becton (2017-19)

A three-year starter, Becton was one of two Cardinals to earn First Team All-ACC accolades in 2019. He announced earlier this month that he will be foregoing his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft, and that he will not be playing in Louisville’s Music City Bowl game against Mississippi State.

Tight End

Cole Hikutini (2015-16)

After transferring in from Sacramento State following his sophomore season, Hikutini spent two years at Louisville where he established himself as one of the best receiving tight ends in the country. He was a John Mackey Award semifinalist in 2016, when he led the Cards in receptions (50) and touchdown catches (8), and ranked second in receiving yards with 668.


Defensive Line

Marcus Smith (2010-13)

Smith came to Louisville as a quarterback and left as one of the most accomplished defensive linemen in program history. As a senior in 2013, he earned AAC Defensive Player of the Year honors after recording 42 tackles, including 18.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks, which was second nationally. Those numbers were also enough to land him on the Second Team of the Associated Press’ All-American squad. He was drafted 26th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles the next spring.

Sheldon Rankins (2012-15)

A finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award in 2015, Rankins was an all-conference performer as both a junior and senior. He was the 12th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and is still suiting up for the same Saints team that selected him.

DeAngelo Brown (2012-16)

One of the strongest defensive linemen to ever play at U of L, Brown was a Second Team All-ACC selection in 2016. That year, he led Louisville in tackles for loss (14) and racked up 41 total tackles and three sacks.

Lorenzo Mauldin (2011-14)

Mauldin was a three-year star on the defensive line for the Cards before being moved to linebacker as a senior. His best season at DE came in 2013, when he ranked 19th nationally in sacks with 9.5. His performance in 2014 as a linebacker was impressive enough to earn him enough votes here to receive a Second Team nod at that position.


Keith Kelsey (2013-16)

A three year starter and a four year contributor, Kelsey was the rock in the middle of some of the best Louisville defenses of the last decade. He led the Cards in tackles as both a junior and senior, and was second on the squad as a sophomore. He was a First Team All-ACC performer in 2015 and a Second Team honoree in his final season at U of L.

James Burgess (2012-15)

One of the most athletic linebackers to ever suit up for the Cards, Burgess was an all-conference honoree as a senior and has spent the last four years since graduating from U of L suiting up for eight different NFL teams.

Preston Brown (2010-13)

After taking over at middle linebacker in 2012, Brown led Louisville in tackles in both 2012 and 2013, earning all-conference accolades in both of those years. He led the NFL tackles in 2017 and currently suits up for the Jacksonville Jaguars.


Jaire Alexander (2015-17)

Alexander was a breakout star as a sophomore in 2016, earning Second Team All-American honors. Injuries plagued his junior season, where Louisville’s defense often seemed lost without him. He declared for the draft following the end of the 2017 regular season and is establishing himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.

Charles Gaines (2011-14)

One of the fastest players to suit up at U of L this decade, Gaines began his career as a wide receiver but transitioned to cornerback during his redshirt sophomore season. He promptly recorded 22 tackles and a team leading five interceptions on his way to earning First Team All-AAC accolades. After another solid season in 2014, Gaines announced he would forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the 2015 NFL Draft. He was taken in the 6th round and spent three seasons in the league.


Calvin Pryor* (2011-13)

One of the hardest hitters in Louisville football history, Pryor finished his Cardinal career with 218 tackles, 2 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 7 interceptions, and 9 forced fumbles. He was a First Team all-conference selection as both a sophomore and a junior and a Second Team All-American in 2013. He was taken with the 18th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Gerod Holiman (2012-14)

After spending two seasons waiting for his turn behind a talented group of Louisville defensive backs, Holiman delivered one of the best individual seasons in Cardinal football history in 2014. He tied an NCAA record with 14 interceptions, won the Jim Thorpe Award, and was a consensus First Team All-American.



John Wallace (2011-15)

After four solid seasons, Wallace left Louisville as the program’s all-time leader in field goals made, and ranked second on the school’s all-time scoring list.


Mason King (2015-19)

King will leave Louisville with the school records for longest punt and highest career punting average.


Jaire Alexander (2015-17)

His injuries in 2017 kept us from seeing what he would have done in year two as Louisville’s primary return man, but his 2016 season was impressive enough to earn the nod here. His 130 punt return yards in U of L’s romp over Florida State were the second-most in program history, and despite serving as Louisville’s returner for just one season, he ranks seventh on the school’s all-time list in return yardage.



Teddy Bridgewater (2011-13)

Running Back

Brandon Radcliff (2012-16)

Senorise Perry (2010-13)

Wide Receiver

James Quick (2013-16)

Eli Rogers (2011-14)


Tobijah Hughley (2014-16)


Khalil Hunter (2015-16)

Kiola Mahoni (2015-16)


Geron Christian (2015-17)

Alex Kupper (2010-12)

Tight End

Cameron Graham (2010)


Defensive Line

Brandon Dunn (2010-13)

Trevon Young (2014-17)

GG Robinson (2015-19)

Drew Bailey (2015-17)


Devonte Fields (2015-16)

Dexter Heyman (2010-11)

Lorenzo Mauldin (2011-14)


Adrian Bushell (2011-12)

Johnny Patrick (2010)


Hakeem Smith (2010-13)

James Sample (2014)



Blanton Creque (2015-19)


Joshua Appleby (2012-15)


Hassan Hall (2018-19)


Jeremy Wright (RB)
Dominique Brown (RB)
Cole Bentley (OL)
Tyler Haycraft (OL)
Byron Stingily (OL)
Kenny Thomas (OL)
Gerald Christian (TE)
Damian Copeland (WR)
Josh Bellamy (WR)
TuTu Atwell (WR)
Roy Philon (DL)
Stacy Thomas (LB)
Dorian Etheridge (LB)
Terrell Floyd (CB)
Andrew Johnson (CB)
Josh Harvey-Clemons (S)
Chucky Williams (S)
Ryan Johnson (P)
Corvin Lamb (Returner)