A few years ago you would be hard-pressed to name Louisville’s second cornerback. That’s not really due to the team not having a talented option but more because no one could be consistent enough to hold down the job. That wasn’t an issue last season and it won’t be an issue this year, either. Jeff Brohm’s staff inherited a strong pairing at the top of the depth chart but they put an emphasis on adding guys at the cornerback spot and did well to do so.
The top returner for Louisville is Jarvis Brownlee. After a solid career at Florida State, Brownlee got a fresh start at UofL and had a strong year. Brownlee finished with 12 PBUs, 2 interceptions, and 67 tackles. Brownlee is a prime example of the fact that corners are mostly remembered for getting beat. Outside of a rough game against FSU, Brownlee was very good in coverage and made a few big plays on the year.
Quincy Riley will likely get starter snaps this season after putting up one of the best statistical seasons in the country as a rotational player. Riley led the team in interceptions and also took one of those picks back for a touchdown. There aren’t many players in the country that were better than him in coverage as his passer rating defense rating would have led the country if he had played full-time snaps. If his tackling improves, we could be looking at an all-American-type of season from Riley.
UofL’s depth last season was a huge aspect of their improvement on defense and this year shouldn’t be any different. The staff landed Storm Duck after spring practice to add a third option at the corner spot. Duck was second-team All-ACC last year with 3 interceptions and 9 PBUs. His size will be an attribute to Louisville as they will be able to put multiple guys on the field to defend bigger receivers as well as tackle in the run game. My assumption at this point is that he will rotate with Brownlee at the boundary corner spot.
UofL is a bit young behind the top three guys but Trey Franklin is the guy I expect to see the field the most behind them. Franklin has been outstanding in every practice I’ve been to since the new staff took over. He is aggressive and sticky in coverage which bodes well for him in this defense.
The jobs look to be open behind the top four guys. Aaron Williams was a prized recruit in the 2023 class but he is recovering from a torn ACL and it’s unknown when he will be ready to play. Marquis Groves-Killebrew and Marcus Washington are SEC transfers who should be able to see the field but neither has stood out in open practices.
My uneducated guess is that Derrick Edwards will get a shot to be the next man up before the young transfers but I do think Ron English and Steve Ellis value size with their corners which doesn’t favor Edwards. The experience may win out as Edwards has been around for a few years but if Williams is healthy, I think he will have an advantage.
It’s impossible to not pick Riley here. His numbers last year are comparable to some of the best corners in the country and he played a full season without giving up a touchdown. To put his season into more context, he gave up 15 total catches in coverage and had 5 passes defended, in total. When the ball comes his way, he’s pretty likely to make a play on it. I’m wrong a lot (like, a whole lot), but I think Riley could put up the best season by a UofL corner since Jaire Alexander was here.