A packed house at the Brown & Williamson Club for the 2015 National Signing Day ceremonies for the University of Louisville football program. Another recruiting season over, the coaches can catch up on their sleep, the players can quit tweeting, and the recruiting die-hards can find other distractions — at least for a while.
Before introducing his assistant coaches to assess the recruiting catch, Bobby Petrino took note of the crowd on hand, somewhere between 800 and 1,000 fans, expressing his appreciation. He also harkened back to the school record-setting attendance during the 2014 season, every game sold out, with an all-time average attendance of 52,971 per game.
“There’s no question that level of fan support helped us get the class we got this year,” he said. “The players notice the support.” Petrino added that he expected there to be more Louisville red than Auburn orange in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic on Sept. 5.
Petrino also acknowledged that keeping Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham and Offensive Coordinator Garrick McGee on the UofL staff was a critical factor. Grantham was courted by the Oakland Raiders and McGee by Oklahoma late in the recruiting season. The loss of either assistant would have had a negative impact on the class (as Tom Jurich recognized in okaying salary boosts for both assistants).
The UofL coach described his incoming class as addressing specific needs, with four offensive linemen to replace three departing seniors and three tall wide receivers to compensate for the loss of several receivers, including DeVante Parker, at that key position while shoring up the linebacker corps.
“One thing we wanted to do with our class was to get taller, bigger, longer and faster,” he said. “We’re looking forward to integrating these players into our system, providing more options and flexibility when combined with our returning players. We’re very excited about this class, it’s one of the best we’ve had at Louisville.”
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Prior to getting with the fans, Petrino addressed a couple of issues that had come during the recruiting process, including the pursuit of Devonte Fields, former national defensive player of the year who was dismissed by TCU after a domestic violence incident, and the proposed gray-shirting of South Carolina prospect Matt Colburn.
On Devonte Fields:
“It was a long process. We have had a relationship with him the entire football season. We went from speaking with Gary Patterson, the TCU coach and every coach on their staff, working with his mother and the attorneys. I think we have a very good understanding of what went on, what happened. Talking with his attorneys, we felt absolutely comfortable that there was no gun and that it’s a misdemeanor charge. I’ve been instructed that that’s all I can say about it. I feel good about how what the outcome will be. Sitting down and talking with the young man, he understands what our expectations are and the standards he’s going to be held to when he’s here on campus. It’s important to him to go to a four-year college and be a student and an athlete. I feel like he’s earned a scholarship.”
On Matt Colburn:
“Gray-shirting is a part of recruiting, not my favorite part of it. I’ve been on both sides of it. The reason Lorenzo Maudin was here was because he was asked to gray-shirt (delay playing football for a season by enrolling in January) by another school … You don’t take his scholarship, you ask him to delay his admission. The timing is the hard part. This is the one time as a college coach you get to manage your roster. We needed to balance our roster and we felt it was important to fill other positions.”