Rick is on a roll….

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I’m not going to lie I was worried that the Dorm Incident would have an impact on our recruiting for a few years. But it hasn’t happened and one could argue that Rick Pitino is on the hottest recruiting  haul he’s had in years. Back in November he inked 5* top 25 player VJ King to the 2016 Class and now has two 4* top 50 players committed to the 2017 Class in #42 center Malik Williams and #48 true point guard Darius Perry.

With his big man of the future Williams committed most assumed Coach Pitino would next look for his point guard of the future. Today we found out who that would be when Darius Perry announced his commitment. By all accounts Perry is a very talented player that can do it all. He is a triple threat on the perimeter. He can drive and pop, hit the three and run an offense. He has a very solid shot. He will be a very nice compliment to Ryan McMahon in that shooting guard spot in a few years. I’m looking forward to seeing this duo on the court together. Lights out!

This 2017 Class is coming together nicely. With two areas of need addressed I think Coach Pitino and his staff will now narrow down their focus as this class only needs two more guys. Some of the hot names floating around are Brandon Randolph, Alex O’Connell, Lance Thomas, Makhtar Gueye, Lindell Wigginton and DJ Harvey.

If any of you were ever worried about the future then those thoughts can rest easy because the last three years of recruiting have been some of the best ever in Louisville. The Coaching staff are not only getting great talent they are also getting solid young men who want to play hard, improve and help their team win. By all accounts this latest commit fits that mold. Congrats to Coach Pitino and his staff for all of their work paying off. Keep it rolling!

ESPN Breakdown of Darius Perry:

ESPN Analyst

Strengths:

Perry is a true point guard that is tough and competes on both ends of the floor. He pushes the ball on the break and does a good job running the halfcourt offense. He can also make plays when the things break down. Perry can get to the rim and knock down the open three. He is a terrific open court passer as well. Perry has a tight handle that allows him to change speeds and direction and weave in and out of traffic with ease. Perry also has excellent court vision that he uses to get the ball to open teammates on time and on target. Perry can also play off the ball and make scoring plays from the wing. He is also an excellent on ball defender that applies relentless pressure.

Weaknesses:

Perry will need to continue to add strength. He also over dribbles at times and becomes a little careless with the ball all will be fixed as he gain valuable playing experience and maturity.Perry will need to continue to work on developing his overall point guard skills and decision making at times but has already made positive strides in those areas.

Bottom Line:

Perry is a true point guard that can handle, pass and make open jumpers to the arc. He is a good athlete that is tough and competes which makes him a high major point guard with tremendous upside.

Video of Darius Perry:

Darius Perry Silky Smooth SG @ NBPA Top 100

Ten Seasons Ago the Kragthorpe Era Had Just Begun

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Sorry for the reminder but you can’t really appreciate where you are without being reminded of where you came from.

The one thing that I noticed at Media Day this past weekend is that the winning attitude and personal drive for excellence is very much engrained into this Louisville program. This is a program that now has everything it needs to get to that next level of competition and compete for both conference and national titles. It’s not easy climbing the ranks of College Football and it hasn’t been easy for Louisville.

Every year at the Media Day event we are provided a great hard bound copy of the media guide. As I was flipping through it this weekend I was reminded that it had been ten seasons ago that Coach Petrino left the first time and we were just headed into year number one of Kragthorpe.

Ten seasons ago Louisville Football fans were still dealing with the loss of Coach Bobby Petrino as he headed to chase his NFL dream. We were headed into year number one of the Kragthorpe era. After being a field goal away from a possible National Championship appearance Cardinal fans had to sit thru three seasons of sub 500 football 15-21 overall record and a 5-16 Big East record. Not to mention three straight losses to Kentucky.

What had taken generations to build up Steve Kragthorpe came along and in three seasons tore it all down. He was even responsible for the worst jersey in Louisville’s history. “The Ville” jerseys… Yea remember those… As I watched during that 2009 season my heart broke seeing what had become of the Cardinal football program. And I wasn’t the only one.

After the rock bottom season of 2009 Tom Jurich sent Kragthorpe packing and brought in a guy that got the ship headed back in the right direction. Coach Charlie Strong cemented his legacy as the Louisville coach who done major damage repair and fast. It was Coach Strong who implanted that winning attitude and personal drive for excellence back into the Louisville program.

There is a lot to be learned from a disastrous coaching hire, but the biggest is not to ever do it again. That’s why when Charlie left to chase his dreams Tom Jurich didn’t hire another guy to build a foundation; he hired the guy to finish the job. It has all come full circle. Ten seasons ago Bobby left us holding the bag and this season could have us holding the trophy.

Working thru Media Day it was obvious that these players believe in themselves and in the coaches leading them. And the message was loud and clear that the coaches believe in their players. There is just something in the air folks. It’s that smell of success. Expectations are thru the roof and after what I’ve seen so far they should be.

After watching the Louisville program struggle thru those sub 500 years and not getting to celebrate at the end of the season in a bowl city has sure made me respect their success that much more. I’m excited about where the Louisville football program is and I’m excited about the guys leading it. I do think Coach Petrino will finish the job this time around and can’t wait to celebrate when he does.

Below is some of the video I shot from the Football Media Day event Saturday morning. You can judge for yourself the attitude and excitement. I asked each coach about their confidence in the depth this season. Great teams have a great depth chart. The 2 has to be just as good as the 1 and the three has to be ready to go. I also interviewed some of the players who will be very important this season.

Coach Petrino Part One:

Coach Petrino Part Two:

Offensive Line Coach Klenakis:

Wide Receivers Coach Galloway:

Secondary Coach Heyward:

Linebackers Coach Tony Grantham:

Lamar Jackson:

Reggie Bonnafon:

DeVonte Fields:

Brandon Radcliff:

Jamari Staples:

DeAngelo Brown:

Always a light hearted moment during Media Day:

Cardinal Basketball Lands Big Man of the Future

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Along with the high expectations of the upcoming Cardinal Football season there has been a level of anticipation waiting to hear from the NCAA about whether or not they will accept the self-imposed penalty by the Louisville Basketball team or will it be more punishment coming. I know it has been the big elephant in the room for many die hard Cardinal fans and we just want it to be over and behind us.

While the Louisville Program continues to wait on that final judgment of the NCAA today Coach Pitino got some big news from the big man of the future Malik Williams. Williams is a 6-11 product of R. Nelson Snide High School in Indiana. This kid really burst onto the recruiting scene during the spring playing with Legit Basketball in Indiana. When you see scouts and other folks breaking down his game they talk about how well he runs the floor as a big man and how well he moves in the post. He is a player that is capable of facing up and making a move to the basket and can step back and hit shots on the perimeter.

Coach Pitino said recently that he was going to go back to having his teams press a lot more. This means that the back-court guys along with front-court guys are going to have to be able to run up and down the floor and be able to make things happen on both ends of the court. Malik Williams is a guy that can do that and will fit in nicely to what Coach Pitino’s plan is for his team. Williams just recently started to break-out as a big time player but a lot of programs had taken notice of his potential. He held offers from Georgetown, Indiana, Iowa, Purdue, Michigan State, North Carolina State and UCLA.

Coach Pitino got the guy he wanted in the 2016 Class when he inked VJ King, and now has started the 2017 Class off with a guy to build around. Williams will blend into the Louisville program nicely. He is a kid that has been described as having a great work ethic and has that competitiveness and desire Coach Pitino loves in a player. With the potential to be a future NBA player is a kid who will need a couple of seasons of college to get ready for that. Williams a four star recruit is ranked #42 in the ESPN 100, #22 in 247 Sports, #30 in the Scout 100 and #35 in the Rivals 150.

Now that Coach Pitino has his big man of the future he will turn his focus to the perimeter. Other primary targets that he will look to add to this class are Makai Ashton-Langford, Brandon Randolph, Alex O’Connell, Darius Perry, Lindell Wigginton, and Matt Coleman. You can check the profile of these players along with Malik Williams over on the Beak Recruiting Page

This has been a great week for Cardinal Sport’s fans. Football season is ramping up and with less than a hundred days until College Basketball tips we got a very solid player for the future of the program. I’m looking forward to what is shaping up to be a very good year of Cardinal athletics.

ESPN BREAKDOWN OF MALIK WILLIAMS

Strengths:
Williams is extra long and lean power forward. He has good hands and runs the floor extremely well. He is also a high level shot blocker with great length and timing. In the lane he scores with quick turn shots or finishes above the rim when he receives drop off passes created by dribble penetration. He handles the ball pretty well for his size and has good range on his jumper from the mid range areas out to the arc with needed time and space. He rebounds well with his length as opposed to strength.

Weaknesses:
Williams will need to continue to.work on adding strength and weight in order to be more physical and make his production more consistent.

Bottom Line:
Williams is a high major prospect with excellent versatility. He is talented and loaded with potential with his best playing days ahead of him.

Deng Adel & Donovan Mitchell take their games to Adidas Nations

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Adidas Nations, the premier international grassroots basketball program is holding their event this weekend. Practices, pool play and college counselor games are being held July 29-31. More than 80 of the top under 18 players from around the world have the opportunity to hone their skills under the guidance of elite coaches and players. The camp culminates August 1 with third-place and championship games played at Cerritos College beginning at 4pmPT and broadcast live on ESPNU.

Over the years several Louisville players have been chosen to be counselors at the Adidas Nations Camp. This year Deng Adel and Donovan Mitchell got the honor. There were 37 current U.S. college players, who competed on four teams. The counselors are taught and put through drills by coaches and pro-type players. They also get to scrimmage a lot against other top players. The experience should help both of these guys get better and that is important heading into a season where both will play significant minutes.

Here is a list of college players at Adidas Nationals:
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Deng Adel started his first two games as a freshman and had a small setback missing eight games with a sprained left knee suffered in practice on Nov. 20. He
returned to practice on Dec. 20. He had his best game of the season against Boston College where he totaled season highs with 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and 34 minutes starting in place of injured Damion Lee. He started the last five games, averaging 7.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game while providing a valuable defensive presence for the Cardinals. He played in six games as a freshman where he scored 8 points or more. Deng is a match-up nightmare for opposing teams and can score in a lot of ways. There has been a buzz surrounding him this summer and by all indications he is due for a special sophomore season. Adel had one really stand-out performance at Adidas Nations on Saturday when he had 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal.

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Donovan Mitchell had many moments where his athleticism stood out last season. He is just one of 10 players in Louisville history to score as many as 14 points in a freshman career debut, tying for eighth on that list. He made his first college start against Wake Forest, scoring a career-high 18 points and pulling down a career-best eight rebounds. Mitchell played at least 10 minutes in every game last season and was a starter on five occasions. He was a double-figure scorer in 13 games and averaged 7.4 a game. If Donovan can add a consistent jump shot to his arsenal along with his extremely athletic game he will be one of the very best to ever suit up for the Cardinals. I have enjoyed watching him evolve and look forward to seeing him be one of the best players in college basketball this season. Like Adel there has been a lot of buzz around him also this summer. Mitchell’s standout performance of Adidas Nationals came on Friday night where he had 10 points, 6 steals, and 4 rebounds.

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As we get ready to embark on another exciting Louisville Football season it’s never too early to talk some basketball. The ceiling is very high for the current Louisville roster. Players tend to have the biggest jump under Coach Pitino from their freshman to sophomore year. Deng Adel and Donovan Mitchell are both guys who will play major roles for the Cardinals this season. Glad that they are out getting in the extra work. Go Cards.

ACC Kick-off, High Expectations for the Cardinals

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The Cardinals Football team came out of Spring workouts on a very positive note and all through the Spring Camp the theme seemed to be that of high expectations. I think that theme followed this group through their summer workouts and it was the centerpiece today at the ACC kickoff event in Charlotte.

Coach Petrino talked about how his team had all the ingredients to be very competitive this season. It is a team with experience, talent, speed, heart and wisdom. These guys went into battle together last season and to overcome an 0-3 start like they did this team won that war together. Forget about team chemistry these guys are brothers. Brothers want to win for themselves and the guy standing beside them.


(Video Courtesy TheCrunchZone)

When a program loses a player like Teddy Bridgewater it hurts. This is a guy who we watched have many moments… That clutch performance in the Sugar Bowl, the heart pounding win in Cincy and heroic win at Rutgers. You wait a lifetime for that player to come to your school. Folks the wait won’t be as long this time around. Lamar Jackson is going to have many moments. This kid like Teddy just gets it. He knows his strengths and wants to improve his weaknesses. As a player he enjoys high expectations and competition. Jackson is bound for greatness. This kid has a great personality as well and he had that on full display at ACC Kickoff today.


(Video courtesy TheCrunchZone)

Another great kid and outstanding defensive player Keith Kelsey was with Jackson at ACC Kickoff. Kelsey one half of last years smash brothers is a tackling machine. He has a nose for the football and he doesn’t react he reaps. The Louisville Defense will be one of the best units in the ACC and have a chance to be the best. A big reason why is players like Kelsey. He will be the centerpiece of Coach Grantham’s plan. He also has a great personality and was winning over the media at ACC Kickoff.


(Photo courtesy TheCrunchZone)

I know I have written these words before but I really don’t think I’ve seen expectations as high as they are. And this year it’s not just the Cardinal faithful who want it. The players and staff expect just as much from themselves. I was excited after the Spring Camp now I’m counting down the days until I can be on the sideline covering this team. Come on September..!

Cardinal’s ACC Kick-Off, Third Time’s A Charm

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Thursday marks the unofficial start of the college football season for us in ACC country. It’s a lean time of the year for college sports but conference media days are a thirst quenching event for all avid fans. Coach Petrino will have Line Backer Keith Kelsey and QB Lamar Jackson with him at the Westin Charlotte located in Charlotte, N.C. July 21-22. They are two great players that will certainly play a major role in the Cardinals success in year three of the conference.

The past two years at the ACC Media Days the Cardinals garnered quite a bit of attention being the new kids on the block. They brought with them a reputation of a program on the rise and one that was going to give their very best every time they hit the field, and they had to go out and prove that in year one and two.

On Thursday they will make their third appearance at the event and this time our Cardinals will bring with them a proven identity. An identity developed from going out and competing at the highest level with every ACC football program they’ve played against since being in the conference.

The Cardinals did more than prove they belonged in year one and two. They proved they could contend. I don’t think the players or the coaches considered the past couple of years a transition or really thought about it that much. They went out on the field and performed trying to be the best football team on that day.

As a fan I have really enjoyed the transition and have enjoyed getting to watch my Cardinals play and get wins in great venues like Notre Dame Stadium. I also have enjoyed watching them go toe-to-toe with the elites of the ACC. I’m looking forward to another great year in the ACC and looking forward to seeing my Cards take another step up in the hierarchy.

Here are the top questions I think the media will have for our Cardinals over the next few days:

#1 What about that starting QB?

Coach Petrino has started the past two seasons with all of his guys on an equal playing field and there were no leaders for the position. He didn’t have them ranked and was looking forward to watching them compete for the starting job. After the Cardinals started 0-3 last season Coach Petrino finally settled on Lamar Jackson as his starter but even changed that up in the last game of the regular season. Jackson had the top 3 rushing games in ACC history last season. Will the Louisville offense be built around him and his ability this season?

#2 Are the Cardinals poised for a breakout ACC season?

Unlike the first two seasons in the ACC they only lost seven starters in the off season. Two on offense in T Aaron Epps and G Skylar Lacy, three on defense in DEs Rankins, and Pio Vatuvei and ILB James Burgess as well as PK John Wallace and P Ryan Johnson. Will returning nine starters on offense and eight players on defense help the Cardinals be consistent enough to take the next step in the league and help them compete for an ACC Title?

#3 Can the Cardinals and Coach Petrino top their 9 win ceiling?

It’s going to be a little different this season for our Cardinals. They will go from being the hunter to the hunted. The ACC has been put on notice and they know what they are up against now. With one of the best offensive players in the league in Lamar Jackson and defensive players in Devonte Fields can they compete and beat the ACC elite?

#4 Are there any key injuries/issues heading into Fall camp?

Coach Petrino has said that everyone should be healthy and ready to go by August. We may get another update this week.

#5 Can the Cardinals offensive line take the next step?

Last season the Cardinals had one of the youngest offensive lines in the league. Three of the five starters return this season led by Geron Christian, Lukayus McNeil and Tobijah Hughley. They also have guys poised to step up like Toriano Roundtree. These are some big, tough guys. And keep an eye out on the Roundtree kid he is going to be a beast. Coach Klenakis deserves a lot of credit for the work he has done with them. They sure looked the part this spring. Can they carry some of that positive momentum they had when the season ended at the Music City Bowl into this season?

It should be an informative few days, and if you are craving football like I am then you’ll want to tune into the festivities over the next few days. Here’s how:

ACC Kick-off Live Coverage
The Cardinals will get their turn in the ACC Spotlight on Friday morning at 10:00am…

Cardinals Learn First Opponent at Atlantis

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We learned around June of last year that our Louisville Cardinals would be participating in the 2016 Battle 4 Atlantis pre-season Tournament. And today it has been determined who the Cardinals will face in their opening game. The Cardinals will open up play in Atlantis against Old Dominion on November 23rd at 9:00pm. The Cardinals will then play the winner/loser of Witcita State and LSU. That would make for an intriguing game with a Final Four rematch against the Shockers or LSU and Antonio Blakeney. Michigan State, St. John’s, VCU, and Baylor are the other teams who have been added. This is considered by most to be the best preseason tournament of the year. 

Louisville last played in the Battle 4 Atlantis during the 2012-13 season where they went 2-1 in the tournament beating UNI and Mizzou before losing to Duke in the title game. The Cardinals would get their revenge on the Blue Devils a few months later beating them in the Final Four in route to a National Championship. It’s ironic that the Cards will play in Atlantis in 2016 because like that 2013 group this group will be a favorite to win the National Title. I certainly wouldn’t mind a little déjà vu here…

The Battle 4 Atlantis is a Kerzner International owned and operated preseason college basketball tournament that takes place in late November of each year, at Atlantis Resorts on Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas usually the week before Thanksgiving. The tournament is known for being the richest Division I Men’s pre-season college basketball tournament. Teams are awarded 2 million to participate in the event.

No doubt this will be a great preseason tournament to start the college basketball season and will be a great gauge to see just how good our Louisville Cardinals will be to start the season. I can’t wait!

2012 Battle 4 Atlantis promo:

Thank You Muhammad Ali For Making Us Move

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I took my son to his first T-Ball practice last week. Before the practice starts I see this kid over to the side playing catch with his father. This kid was really good and catching every ball his Dad was throwing to him. Wanting to be challenged more he was yelling at his Dad “make me move”. As I’ve grown older I find myself wanting to be challenged more and am always looking for someone or something to “make me move” There aren’t very many times while we are on this earth that we will be truly “moved”

This past week we lost one of The Greatest men this world has ever known. In his lifetime Muhammad Ali was responsible for not only making those around him “move” but inspired the world to “move”. Over the past week I have been “moved” hearing the stories and seeing the impact that this Great Man had. Among my favorites are the time Ali helped a random car full of college students whose car had broken down on the side of the road, in 1981 how Ali talked a suicidal man out of jumping to his death, or the time he helped secure the release of 15 US hostages in Iraq.

I was also “moved” this past week to see the impact Muhammad Ali has had on not only his generation but many generations to come. Covering Louisville sports this week It was great to see the Louisville Baseball team wear the name “ALI” on their hats, and seeing that even in his passing he was with them and inspiring them to be great, or reading about a group of Louisville Football players who went to Ali’s childhood home to pay their respects. Even on Friday seeing that the Louisville Basketball team was together paying their respects at the Ali memorial service.

Watching the memorial service Friday afternoon I was not only “moved” but was challenged personally to “move”. The speeches were incredible and very inspiring but the thing that really stood out was how Muhammad Ali even in his post-life was able to bring a city, a state, a country and a nation together. Friday there was no black & white, us & them, Christian or Muslim, gay or straight, Cards or Cats. That day we all came together to honor someone who “moved us”.

Thank you Muhammad Ali for making this world a better place, thank you in these trying times for showing us all that we can co-exist and thank you for making us “move”.

Ali “moved” me this past week and I will “move” to be a better person. I think that is his final challenge to us all.

“Don’t count the days; make the days count”- Muhammad Ali

Louisville Baseball Hottest Ticket In Town

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Louisville baseball dates back to 1909. There is no rich history and contending for conference Titles and fifth place finishes was the norm for 96 years. The program was decent but lacked the consistency to be on the other level. That all changed when Dan McDonnell took over as coach in 2007. Now hosting NCAA Regionals are the norm. The Cardinals will host their fourth straight NCAA Regional on Friday night.

Scanning the radio shows this week and the flavor was much the same. It wasn’t basketball or football conversations that dominated the airwaves. Cardinal Nation is all a buzz for Louisville Baseball. Not only are folks excited to get out and watch this team play on Friday night they are also looking forward to showing Coach Dan McDonnell some love for signing his new 10 year contract.

The Cardinals are coming into this tournament as the #2 seed in the country. Expectations are at an all-time high. This team has a roster oozing with Major League potential and seems to be peaking at the right time. With a great defense and an offense manufacturing runs at will this Louisville team will be hard to beat.

We often talk about how far the football program has come up over the years but I think one could argue that there hasn’t been a bigger rise from the ashes story than with the baseball program. If you are hoping to watch the Cardinals play tonight but don’t have tickets good luck. The Louisville session is sold out and there aren’t even any seats to be had on the secondary sites. The Cardinal Nine and Coach Dan McDonnell are the hottest ticket in town.

More on this years team and the NCAA Tournament from GoCards.com

A Humpy Day for Cardinal Fans

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To say that Cardinal Basketball fans have been held captive would be an understatement. We’ve waited anxiously for the last 2 months to hear news from the NCAA about a scandal we’ve waded through for the last 6 months. Today Louisville fans waited for another decision, and had plenty of company. Most College Basketball fans where stuck to their social media accounts waiting to hear who would stay and who would go. As most of us where just trying to get through our “Hump Day” it was also filled with many “Humpy” moments as college athletes held our nerves. As college sports fans it’s hard not to get caught up in the drama of young athletes making one of the biggest decisions of their lives. We invest a lot of time and emotion on these guys and don’t want to see them go. And we know that our team is better with them.

Chinanu Onuaku by my account is a very humble young man, and out of all of the Louisville players in that locker room he seemed to dislike the media attention the most. Many times the sounds of a post-game locker room drowned out his soft tone during interviews. I’m not going to blame him for having his moment, but these decision day platforms are frustrating. The NBA needs to find a better way to recruit their talent and aren’t doing these young men any favor. The other professional sports have it figured out give them a call.

After all of the ups and downs and plot twist of a daytime soap opera Chinanu did make it official Wednesday evening on his Instagram account:

“After talking to my family and going through the NBA process, me and my family have decided that it would be best for me to keep my name in the draft,” Onuaku wrote on his Instagram post. “I will take the Terry Rozier route and work my way into the first round. I have talked to Coach Pitino and he is behind me 100 percent.”

I wish him all of the best this world has to offer and hope he can grab a hold of success at the next level. He was a great Cardinal and helped win a lot of basketball games.

There was also another young athlete who made a big decision today. Tadarrius Patterson, a three-star outside linebacker from Birmingham (AL), committed to Louisville Wednesday afternoon. Perhaps not grabbing the attention it deserved this was big news. We pulled this kid straight from the jaws of the mighty SEC. This kid held offers from Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Kentucky. He also held the attention of Alabama and other SEC schools.

ESPN breaks down his talent:

Size-Strength-Range
Adequate height with good length and range. Runs well and covers ground quickly. Lacks strength and power at the point of attack at this stage.
Instincts/Take On Skills
Above average recognition skills finding the ball, plays fast and reads on fly. Will occasionally over run the ball or take and inside angle and lose contain. Feels routes develop well in coverage. Lacks an strong anchor versus the run and can continue to develop strength and improve power-base. More effective slipping blocks then then taking on and shedding.
Tackling
Reach and grab tackler, not a wrap and drive through type. Would benefit from coming in lower as he tends to grab high for drag downs.
3rd Down Capabilities
Shows raw ability as a pass rusher, quick with hands and has the athleticism to make an inside move or redirect to beat blockers. Flashes of effective speed-to-power. Shows good savvy and range dropping and closing in zone coverages.
Bottom Line
Patterson is an active defender with good range and athleticism. Big upside given his frame and lack of great run support strength at this stage. Has the tools to develop into a three-down linebacker in time.

We lost a great basketball player today but gained a great football player. I couldn’t be happier about the progression of our football program. Coach Petrino and his staff are at the top of their game, and this thing is on a collision course.

As humpy as this day was for many Cardinal fans it still turned out pretty good. We got a verbal commit from a great football player and the Cardinal 9 keeps rolling on. GO CARDS!