new starters look to fill the shoes of Kelsey, fields
Another week, another preview.
Only two weeks are left until the Louisville Cardinals kick off 2017 against the Purdue Boilermakers in Indianapolis. There will be a lot of familiar faces, but some that will change this year. On defense, the Cards will be without standout linebackers Devonte Fields and Keith Kelsey. Trevon Young also shifted to the line, as did James Hearns.
This defense is different. The Cards return only one starter at linebacker, albeit a very talented MLB in Stacy Thomas. Thomas totaled 85 tackles in 2016, second-best on the team. Thomas is an athletic back with size- 6’1”, 242 lbs.
From left to right, linebackers are London Iakopo (6’0”, 223 lbs.), Thomas, and Khane Pass (6’1”, 211 lbs.)
Iakopo was a hard-hitter at safety before tearing his ACL in the second-half of the season. He joined as a four-star prospect and the 49th junior college player in the 2016 class. The Carson, Claifornia native played well enough in practice to earn the starting spot, and is backed up by Malik Staples and Damien Smith. Staples is a Sophomore, and Smith a junior.
Backing up Thomas is Junior Isaac Stewart and Sophomore Amonte Caban.
At the other OLB position is redshirt sophomore Khane Pass. The 6’1” Columbus, Georgia native was a three-star recruit, and ranked the No. 29 safety in his class. He emerged as a physical player, making five tackles along with a pass break-up against Kentucky, and started his first game in the Citrus Bowl versus LSU. Pass finished with 19 tackles.
Behind Pass is Freshman C.J. Avery. Avery enters as one of the highest-touted Louisville recruits for 2017. The No. seven safety and 79th player in the country was one of ESPN’s top 300 and a four-star recruit. He participated in the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando. He also was the ninth prospect from Mississippi. Sophomore Lamarques Thomas is third on the depth chart.
Time will tell if the current linebackers will be able to fill the void left by one of the best linebacker corps. in 2016. If all else fails, many other positions feature versatile players that may be able to fill in.
Next week, River City Cards will preview the secondary, as we march to Indianapolis.