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The Cardinal Countdown: 32 Days Until Kickoff

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Louisville v North Carolina State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

#32 Ryheem Craig

Class: Freshman

Ht/Wt: 6-3/210

Position: Defensive Line

Hometown: Taylorsville, NC

Twitter: @CraigRyheem

Thoughts: The Cards welcome true freshman Ryheem Craig to the 2021 squad and he comes with some defensive flexibility. Craig got some reps both at the end position and back off the line as an outside linebacker in high school, so the staff has some options with him as he gets on campus. His speed is there for sure (ran track in high school as well) but he also does a good job at putting himself in a good spot on the field. Instead of going full speed all the time Craig seems to pick his spots as to not over run the play or get ole’d by a shifty ball carrier. In the clip below you can see he has some nice ball tracking which hopefully translates well at this level, it’s just all about speeding himself up to get to point quicker facing ACC competition.

Craig wasn’t recruited to come in and be an immediate impact player so any contributions they see from him this season is pure bonus in my head. The Cards beat out some fellow ACC schools (BC, NC State, Syracuse) and a handful of SEC schools with Craig citing the relationship with Coach Ivey as a big selling feature. I can see Craig has a 2-3 year contributor on the line with some bulk and development.

Sweet Tweet:

Probably in my Top 5 movies of all-time. Most people love Squints, Ham, or Smalls but me….I was a big Wendy Peppercorn fan.

***

#32 James Turner

Class: Sophomore

Ht/Wt: 6-0/196

Position: Kicker

Hometown: Saline, MI

Twitter: @jamesturner004

Thoughts: While Turner was the projected starter heading into the year he was a still a big question mark coming off of 2019 where the Cards saw some challenges in the kicking game. Creque had some struggles before his injury and then Chalifoux fought some demons in kicking both field goals and extra points. Turner was pegged as the savior of the kicking specialists, and my man James delivered.

Coming into 2020 James had never attempted a collegiate field goal, and he ended up going 13 for 15 on the year with his only two misses both being from 52 yards and both as time expired in the first half of games in back to back weeks (ND/FSU). James had also never attempted a collegiate extra point heading into 2020 and he went all Jose Canseco and joined the 40 for 40 club in his first year. Those numbers are significant because if he were to only replicate them in 2021 he would already go in the books as one of the best kickers to do it in terms of production. His 86.7% was just shy of the single season record for the Cards while still good enough for 2nd in the ACC and 15th in the country last year. His 100% success rate on point after attempts is obviously tied for 1st all time but if he continues to stick at 100% he’s not only flying up the chart for totals and percentages but the “consecutive attempts made” chart as well. Turner put on a show in 2020 and in January the staff rewarded him with a well deserved scholarship.

I’m a big Art Carmody fan, really like John ‘Wallace & Bomb it’ and of course was a card carrying member of the fan club for Creque, but Turner has shown he has the leg to battle with those guys as an all-time great at the position, but you don’t have to take my word for it as the Lou Groza committee plans to keep an eye on him as well, naming him to the preseason watch list.

While I don’t make it a habit to highlight “unsuccessful” attempts I think this clip is significant. At the end of the first half against Notre Dame Turner’s 52 yarder is just short, clipping the crossbar. One can assume a Notre Dame nerd was doing some chirping since as the camera pans back we see Turner going Luke Smith on someone, giving them a “good day to you sir, as well”.

While a chatty kicker isn’t always the best, I like the mental toughness to miss a kick and not just walk off with your head in your chest. Especially against a Top 5 fraud like Notre Dame. I think we got another good one here, folks.

Sweet Tweet:

Not sure if I could kick it 65 yards if you gave me two chances to get it there but Turners out here making it look like light work. Go ahead and stack up some more 52 yarders in 2021...we got this, baby.