It was a beautiful day for some Louisville football. Over 16,000 fans came out to cheer the Cardinals on as they wrapped up the spring session with a very competitive scrimmage. The first team offense dazzled scoring 73 points while the first team defense locked down the white team holding them to just 7 points. Cardinal fans got everything they expected and more from this year’s team.
I expected a lot from Lamar Jackson today and he did not disappoint. Shining just as bright as the sun over Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium he lit up the football field throwing for 519 yards and 8 touchdowns. As impressive as he turned out last year with just a limited time to adjust to the program the writing was on the wall as to just how good he would be after a full season. While now also getting to spend the entire off season in the strength, skills and conditioning program. The improvement is noticeable with better accuracy, arm strength and field command. I can’t wait until September to see him take the College Football world by storm.
As far as the other skill players are concerned it was a big day for the receiving corps. James Quick led this group with 150 yards and a touchdown. His highlight moment was when he and Lamar Jackson hooked up on an 85 yard bomb.
I was looking forward to seeing Jamari Staples today as he finished last season on such a high note and he also looked very good out there. His highlight moment was when he and Jackson hooked up for a 54 yard score.
Another guy you’re going to want to keep an eye on this season is Cole Hikutini. He will be a very important part of the Cardinals passing game. Today he hooked up with Jackson for two scores finishing with 75 yards. He has great hands and really gets himself in good position coming out of his routes. I think he could end up being one of the best tight ends in the ACC.
The Cardinals are once again going to have a stable of very good running backs. Brandon Radcliff has an extra gear when he hits that sideline, and with his work ethic and drive he’s in for a big year. Jeremy Smith and Malin Jones are also very capable backs. Jones had a very impressive 65 yard trot for a score in the scrimmage.
On the defensive side of the ball it was some of the usual suspects on the field flying around making tackles. I was most impressed with Stacy Thomas, Chucky Williams, Alphonso Carter, and Zykeisis Cannon. These guys combined for 30 tackles. Josh Harvey was a guy I was watching closely and he had 2 tackles. I look for him to step it up this season as he really wants to play at the next level.
These Spring scrimmages aren’t a be all end all predictor of how the upcoming season will look, but it is a great opportunity to see how certain players have improved their games and gives you an idea of just what the offense will look like come September. Today in the post-game pressor Coach Petrino said that he welcomes high expectations and said to “bring them on”. He surely will get his wish as I know mine are thru the roof and if you were at the spring game today I’m sure yours are as well.
I just finished covering another Derby Basketball Classic and it was three days of great hoops action played by some of the most talented High School seniors in the country. There were dunks, three point shots, alley oops, and give and go’s. But there were also many years of hard work on display and this all-star game like them all was a culmination of hard work and dreams realized for the players. There were several big-time college basketball programs represented in the Derby Basketball Classic and also a few central Kentucky counties. I spent my three days of the Classic covering Bullitt East High School’s Tyler Sharpe who will be attending the University of Louisville as a preferred walk-on and Owen County High School’s Carson Williams who will be playing for Northern Kentucky University.
Located just south of the city of Louisville Bullitt County is included in the Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Metropolitan Area, commonly known as Kentuckiana. Tyler Sharpe a 6-1 guard played for Bullitt East High School. He has several scholarship offers, including Pikeville, and Kentucky State, but like many kids in the area he grew up a Louisville Cardinal fan. He could have chosen to go to one of these other schools but when he was offered the coveted preferred walk-on spot at the University of Louisville he jumped at the opportunity. Watching players like Elisha Justice, Tim Henderson, and David Levitch have success in this walk-on spot over the last six years was all the motivation Tyler needed. Watching Tyler Sharpe compete in the Derby Basketball Classic events over the last three days I can tell you that he is a very humble young man who is a decent athlete with surprising leaping ability. He had an off shooting night in the Classic but he has a very nice jump shot. This young man has spent his life dreaming of playing in front of the Louisville crowd and in the Derby Basketball Classic he got to realize some of that dream.
Carson Williams played his high school career for the Owen County Rebels in Owenton Ky. In that small rural Kentucky town you never hear the words “real deal” when it comes to the athletes that play sports there. Don’t get me wrong there are some very good athletes that have played for Owen County over the years but nothing like Carson Williams. This kid first made waves when he was running the floor, making plays, and dunking a basketball as an 8th grader. Folks in that small town started to realize then that he was going to be special. Carson is an athlete that has been dedicated to the sport of basketball and worked really hard to gain recognition in such a small town. Winning Mr. Basketball in Kentucky was a surreal moment for Carson and everyone who has followed him along the way. And being able to play in the Derby Basketball Classic just put an exclamation point on a very successful high school career.
Carson Williams represented himself very well this week in the Derby Basketball events. He won the 2on2 Championship with Jared Harper who will be attending Auburn University at Night of Future Stars and also made it to the Finals of the Slam dunk contest. He finished the Derby Basketball Classic with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assist. Not only was Carson representing himself in Louisville on Friday night he was also representing a very tight knit community. Owen County fans have traveled thousands of miles watching and supporting Carson Williams during his career. One of those fans was Chase Duvall. Chase the brother of Owen County basketball Coach Devin Duvall passed away suddenly on Wednesday afternoon right before Carson left town for the Derby Basketball festivities. On Friday night Carson wore a special band on his Derby Basketball uniform to honor Chase. That’s the kind of young man Carson Williams is and nobody deserved to have his moment more than he did at the Derby Basketball Classic.
“It’s always basketball season in Kentucky,” said Derby Festival President and CEO Mike Berry. “We have the most dedicated fan bases in college basketball. Tonight they were treated to a game with outstanding talent and we’ll be watching these young players closely as they continue their careers.”
I know I can’t wait to see how Tyler Sharpe and Carson William do in the next phase of their basketball careers and I will be watching and supporting these two great young men as they continue to live out their dreams.