Commentary

Louisville finishes strong

Originally Published: February 2, 2011
By ESPN Recruiting | ESPN.com

Here's a team-by-team look at the Big East conference recruiting classes.

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1. Louisville Cardinals

Top prospect: Gerod Holliman (Miami/Southridge), an upper-tier safety, has the range, ball skills and overall athleticism to contribute early.
Name to remember: CB Andrew Johnson (Miami/Southridge) is perhaps overshadowed a bit by Holliman, but he has good speed, the quickness to recover and is savvy.
Breakdown: Using his ties to the region from his days as a Gators coach and taking advantage of the coaching turnover at both Miami and Florida, Louisville coach Charlie Strong cleaned up in Miami. Down the stretch, Louisville landed three significant ESPNU 150 members from the area, including a prolific offensive connection in teammates WR Eli Rogers and QB Teddy Bridgewater (Miami, Fla./Northwestern). Holliman is one of the top safeties in the country and should challenge for early playing time thanks to the total package he brings to the table, particularly his coverage skills. Overall, this class is deep and stacked with great midrange quality at positions of need.

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2. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Top prospect: Savon Huggins (Jersey City, N.J./Saint Peter's) will be Rutgers' next Ray Rice, but he has better speed.
Name to remember: We thought RB Charles Davis (Neptune, N.J./Neptune), a quick and explosive back, showed flashes on film of an upper-tier runner, but he fell under the radar.
Breakdown: Greg Schiano was able to keep Huggins in-state and land DT Al Page (Bronx, N.Y./Christopher Columbus). Look for Huggins to carry the load right away, while Page has the size and strong, active hands coveted at the defensive tackle position to cause disruption. Overall, this is your typically solid Rutgers class without a lot of wow factor. The Scarlet Knights also needed a good quarterback to develop with Tom Savage leaving and got one in top-20 sleeper Gary Nova (Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco). While good speed and athleticism were added with track stars like Miles Shuler (Long Branch, N.J.), we like what Rutgers did up front, particularly at defensive tackle with the signing of Page and Daryl Stephenson (Parlin, N.J./Sayreville War Memorial).

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3. West Virginia Mountaineers

Top prospect: Athlete Terrell Chestnut (Pottstown, Pa./Pottsgrove) was a high school QB and is athletic enough to stay there at West Virginia but also could slide his smooth movement skills out to receiver or defensive back.
Name to remember: RB Andrew Buie (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian) is fast and explosive with good space-player attributes that should allow him to flourish in Morgantown.
Breakdown: WVU is losing some big weapons on offense, such as Noel Devine, but has focused on bringing in some young skill for quarterback Geno Smith. Receiver Dante Campbell (Clermont, Fla./East Ridge), a tall and physically imposing receiver, projects to be more of a possession-type in Morgantown. Kenneth Myers (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) has great size as well, and is equally effective catching in a crowd and causing headaches for smaller DBs. This class should help bolster West Virginia's future offense, particularly under Dana Holgorsen. On defense, CB Vance Roberts (Washington, D.C./Dunbar) is a tough and feisty cornerback prospect with good instincts and burst, which allow him to constantly be around the ball making plays.

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4. Syracuse Orange

Top prospect: TE Louie Addazio (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz) will enter Syracuse as a better blocker than pass-catcher, and with added size, he could develop into a solid tight end at the next level.
Name to remember: CB Jaston George (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Frommel Smith) is a small but dynamic athlete we feel will settle in at corner and make a lot of plays with his quick-twitch athleticism.
Breakdown: Doug Marrone has exceeded expectations on the field and off. When looking at the quality, three-star depth, this is one of the deeper classes we have seen from Syracuse in recent years. Looking to improve on the offensive side of the ball, the Orangemen loaded up at receiver, highlighted by Brandon Reddish (Brooklyn, N.Y./Fort Hamilton). He is a quick and speedy receiver who separates as a route-runner and after the catch. Defensively, there is an infusion of youth in the back seven, led by the signing of well-rounded and ultra-productive Cameron Lynch (Snellville, Ga./Brookwood) at outside linebacker.

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5. South Florida Bulls

Top prospect: All Andre Davis (Tampa, Fla./Jefferson) is lacking is some quick-twitch athleticism and speed to be considered a nationally regarded receiver. His hands and concentration are excellent.
Name to remember: Kenneth Durden (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes), a long and rangy defensive back, is a bit of a 'tweener safety/corner but has a ton of upside and played against great competition.
Breakdown: First-year coach Skip Holtz did a good job signing some under-the-radar prospects out of Florida and adding athleticism to his future offensive line. Tackles Max Lang (Orlando, Fla./Boone) and David Simon (Bay Minette, Ala./Baldwin) both have good agility and athleticism on the edge and have upside as pass-blockers. On defense, we like the high ceiling in outside linebacker Edsel Caprice (Cape Coral, Fla./Cape Coral), who is a bit undersized but can flat-out run and make plays sideline to sideline.

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6. Cincinnati Bearcats

Top prospect: RB Jameel Poteat (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt) is the onetime Pitt commit who has slid down our board from the spring but is still a quality back. Poteat is ready to carry the load for the Bearcats.
Name to remember: QB Stephen Weatherford (Land O' Lakes, Fla./Land O' Lakes) is an athletic quarterback with the arm strength to make most of the college throws and shows flashes of good talent for the Bearcats to develop.
Breakdown: First-year coach Butch Jones has signed a big class that is solid, for the most part, from top to bottom. Cincinnati did well in the Midwest and spread outside the region for a few talented prospects. The Bearcats stocked up at running back with Poteat, Crockett and the small but explosive Ralph David Abernathy (Atlanta, Ga./Westminster). Opening up holes will be No. 12 center Daniel Murray (San Diego, Calif./Torrey Pines), a solid pickup with his ability to also play guard or tackle.

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7. Pittsburgh Panthers

Top prospect: Tight end Sam Collura (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic) is not real flashy but is well-rounder as a blocker and pass-catcher -- which is often hard to find.
Name to remember: We like the value and versatility RB Jeremiah Bryson (Smyrna, Tenn./Smyrna) possesses with his big-play quickness and ball skills.
Breakdown: When the Dave Wannstedt era ended, so did this onetime top-25 class. Pitt entered signing day with fewer than 10 commitments, and Todd Graham did his best to salvage this class, considering the turmoil surrounding the program. Aside from Collura, Pitt signed some decent prospects on offense, including a pair of quality backs headlined by potential workhorse Malcolm Crockett (Washington, D.C./Collegiate Academy), and one of the top guards in the state -- technically sound 300-pounder Artie Rowell (Harrisburg, Penn./Central Dauphin).

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8. Connecticut Huskies

Top prospect: We expect OLB Marquise Vann (Fairfield, Ohio) to contribute early in Storrs because he is physically ready for the college level and is productive in heavy-pressure schemes.
Name to remember: QB Michael Nebrich (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock Secondary) is savvy and athletic with a quick release. His lack of size (6-foot, 195 pounds) allowed him to fall through the cracks.
Breakdown: Randy Edsall won in the Big East with marginal recruiting classes, and now it's time to see whether recent hire Paul Pasqualoni can do the same. This class is comprised mainly of two-star prospects but does have a solid out-of-state linebacker prospect in Vann. Increasing speed and athleticism was an emphasis in the secondary, and CB David Stevenson (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson) is a sleeper with good quickness and hips.