Louisville went 2-10 last year and lost most of those 10 games in an insanely embarrassing way. The Louisville coaching staff also all but quit recruiting halfway through the calendar year and had no plans to host recruits for visits for the 2019 class. I point those things out because I don’t feel like they’re being acknowledged enough during this crazy run of commitments that the new staff has landed. These guys took over a team that had one of the worst seasons in recent memory and they started from scratch with a lot of recruits.
Then you can throw in the roster issues. National writers from Bruce Feldman to Andy Staples have come by the football complex only to leave feeling like they had just learned about some of the worst roster management they had ever seen. Louisville had pressing needs at at least four different position groups and that was just from a purely numbers standpoint. This staff took over a team that was so unbalanced that they were surely going to lose some players that had solid to strong potential. They still had to fix it all.
The 2020 class got off to a slow start with the staff only landing three players before the end of May. Then they caught fire. The staff has landed 16 commitments since May 30th and they are rumored to get a couple more as I’m writing this. I think the run that this staff is on should put some minds at ease when it comes to how this staff will recruit long term.
Let me get this out there before I continue. This class is good and has the potential to improve throughout the process. It’s not “great” and I wouldn’t even describe it as “very good” at this point. It is impressive, however. This program was a laughing stock 8 months ago and it is now being led by a guy who doesn’t have name recognition to work with, yet. Those things matter a lot and as I’m writing this the class is ranked 21st in the 247 composite and has an average player rating that is comparable to some of the Louisville recruiting classes since joining the ACC. That shouldn’t be dismissed or overlooked when it comes to evaluating the class so far.
The staff has addressed the concerns with the roster imbalance very well also. This staff is pursuing a second quarterback for the next class so that they can get the depth that they feel they need in the QB room. They have also added an H-Back to the 2020 class and 10 total offensive linemen since they took over. The defense won’t have to rely on walk-ons to play next year because a starter or two gets injured, either. It’s not easy to rebuild a roster and it’s even harder when you are taking over a roster with the issues Louisville had. The staff being able to get the numbers right in such a short time shows that they know how to manage a roster.
Stars matter and recruiting rankings have a purpose in college football. Those things just don’t really matter for Louisville right now. Getting guys that fit and will be contributors down the road is what was needed in the first two class and it looks like they’ve been able to get those types of guys. I wrote about how the staff’s strategy for the 2019 class would pay off in the long run and that strategy extends to 2020. These guys can’t whiff on recruits early because they have to build a roster that can withstand all that comes with college football. Injuries, attrition, and flat out bad luck will happen. Recruiting players that can step in and actually fill those holes is key.
With that being said, it is also being ignored that Louisville is landing players that are rated similarly to guys that have become very good players for this program in the past. They are also beating out teams that are on a similar level to them. Hell, Kobe Baynes picked up an offer from Michigan two months ago and still committed to the Cards. Tim Lawson spurned UNC and NC State. Just because these guys “fit” and just because this staff is fixing the roster it doesn’t mean that they are not getting talented football players. Some of these guys will find themselves in the two-deep early on. They’re also not done yet. I expect the staff to take 28-29 guys this year. They might have ten more spots to fill and as I’ve said before, with the numbers they have they can really go all out for the last handful of guys.
It shouldn’t be hard to look at the things this staff has done in a short time and be impressed. It also shouldn’t be hard to be honest when assessing what they’ve done. The 2019 class was built with a great game plan. The 2020 class is off to a good start with a bunch of guys that obviously fit and should have the ability to at least provide early depth for this team. That’s something to be excited about. This team went two-and-freaking-ten last year. There is no reason that they should be recruiting like they are. It’s OK to feel that this staff can recruit better while also acknowledging the fact that what they are doing is very impressive considering the state of the program.
I know it’s extremely dumb for me to ask people to utilize nuance and context on the internet. It’s also dumb to expect college football fans to show patience in any way. It’s even dumber to expect that to happen during the summer when there’s nothing to talk about. But, I think that the fan base that sat through an insanely awful 2-10 season can look at the whole of how this staff is recruiting and be very impressed with what they have done and be hopeful for the direction of the program.