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The Cardinal Countdown: 18 Days Until Kickoff

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Rutgers v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

#18 Justin Marshall

Class: RS Junior

Ht/Wt: 6-3/213

Position: Wide Receiver

Hometown: Conyers, GA

Twitter: @JusMarshall

Thoughts: Ever since we saw flashes of Justin in early 2019 he’s either fairly or unfairly been pegged as the ‘next big thing’ for Louisville football. The big body wideout with hops and speed had folks thinking DeVante Parker or Jaylen Smith but we just haven’t seen that yet from Marshall. While I think he craves the opportunity this season will give him a chance to show out as the Cards look to replace a lot of production from the last couple seasons.

While the success of one phase of the game is never solely dependent upon a single player (especially a non-QB) many are looking at Marshall to take a big leap in 2021 not only statistically but in terms of growth and maturity in the game. Coming out of high school I think many saw the potential of Marshall as he was being recruited by nearly half the ACC and Big Ten. A redshirt season (2017) and a season with heavy focus on special teams (2018) set up for a breakout in 2019 and beyond but a deep wideout room left little space for new blood, and if they weren’t at the top of your game (route running, dropped passes, etc) you weren’t getting PT. Marshall took the lessons from the last couple years and showed major improvement in the spring per the staff. While there were NFL caliber weapons on the roster Marshall and the coaches know he’s too good to be limited to 7 catches for 87 yards as he was in 2020.

While the consensus is that Marshall is a starter on this team my feeling is they need him to also become a true #1 option for Malik. Sometimes you have to read between the lines but I think the coaches actually agree with me, especially since almost every clip we see from fall camp they have Kei’Trel lined up across from him. To be the best, you gotta beat the best and those reps will pay major dividends in my opinion once the season kicks off. I know we’ve got some talented receivers again but I think the staff and Marshall are pushing hard to get the production from him many thought they may see in 2020. For those waiting to see Marshall step up into that lead role….I think that time is coming very soon.

Sweet Tweet:

I agree. I actually surround myself with a bunch of “no” men just to mix it up. “Anyone better than me?” No. “Can anyone be on my level?” No. “Can anybody compete with what I’m doing?” No.

See what I mean, mix it up a bit, flip it on it’s head.

***

#18 Rance Conner

Class: Freshman

Ht/Wt: 5-10/178

Position: Defensive Back

Hometown: Miami, FL

Twitter: @HumbleRance03

Thoughts: If pressed hard enough to give a Top 5 “impact players” from this recruiting class when all is said and done and they hang up their cleats at UofL, I might sneak Conner into that Top 5. The kid is an absolute ball magnet. I mean in just the clip below one could extrapolate that for a full season he had a shade under...uh, 78 interceptions. Every pass ended up in his hands one way or another, and for a defense starving to turn the ball over he is a much needed commodity.

One of the first things folks may look at are Conner’s measurables as he is a bit undersized and I’m sure the staff would like to add 15-20lb in the next year or so, but on the flipside he is another extremely quick athlete that can make up ground fast and put himself in a position to make a play. We see that first hand in the clip below and in many other clips on his Hudl page. He can find the football and create disruption. Yes mechanics are important, and height is important, and technique is important….but all that is useless if you can’t make plays. The Louisville defense is looking to force turnovers and make the opposing QB uncomfortable and I think Rance has that in his DNA.

We may not see a significant amount of Rance this year (although he does have some special teams experience as well) but I’d fully anticipate him to be in the mix of it all in 2022.

Sweet Tweet:

I’m telling you…….BALL. MAGNET.