Spring Game Primer: Preview, Radcliff & Staples Ready for Big Seasons, NFL Draft Prospects, No 3-Divisions in ACC, New 4-star RB Addition

Posted on Apr 16 2015 - 1:55pm by Ethan Moore
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Photo – AP

*From the ESPN ACC blog, RB Brandon Radcliff plans on building on his momentum from last year

On third down, Radcliff picked up the first on 13 of his 18 carries, seventh best of any Power 5 back.

Behind the line of scrimmage, he was a ghost. Just nine of his 144 carries (6.2 percent) ended in a loss — the third-best rate in the ACC and well ahead of Louisville counterpart Michael Dyer (22 percent).

And when Radcliff smelled the goal line, he was nearly impossible to bring down. His 12 rushing TDs ranked third among ACC running backs, but his rate of scoring — once every 12 rushes — trailed only Pitt’s James Conner, the league’s offensive player of the year.

“I take a lot of pride in it,” Radcliff said. “People see me as a power back to get those short yards and get downfield.”

*UAB Transfer Jamari Staples feels at home in Louisville

“I knew how Coach McGee wanted things run, so I felt I could come right in and play and do what I’m capable of doing,” Staples said.

The Cardinals’ passing game has been in flux all spring, with three quarterbacks rotating in with the starters and a host of young receivers competing for playing time, but Staples offers something unique on the roster. He has the physical tools to be a weapon, but he also has some on-field experience that separates him from the majority of his competition.

“He’s a big, explosive receiver,” quarterback Kyle Bolin said. “He’s got height, he’s long, he can jump, he’s got great hands. It’s just that when new guys come in, there’s a lot of pressure on them. They want to go out there and perform. It’s all about keeping confidence up. But he’s done a great job coming in and giving us a good, big target to throw to.”

*ACC Commish John Swofford reiterated that there have been no 3-division discussions in ACC play

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speculated to CBSSports.com that the ACC would move to three divisions, but Swofford told ESPN.com on Thursday that moving to three divisions is “not something we’re discussing at all at this point. It just isn’t.”

“Our purpose behind initiating that discussion was really not about anything specific we would necessarily do, but based on the whole deregulation of a number of NCAA issues in recent years,” Swofford told ESPN.com. “We said over and over again that doesn’t mean we would necessarily change anything within our own league.

 *Read this before heading down to the stadium

Those traveling south bound on Interstate 65 are asked to use the Crittenden Drive exit and turn right onto Central Avenue toward the stadium. Fans traveling north on I-65 are encouraged to exit at Eastern Parkway, continue onto Hahn Street and proceed to Floyd Street.

Anyone attending the game traveling east or west bound on I-264, should exit onto Crittenden Drive and then proceed to Park Blvd or Central Avenue. If approaching the stadium from the west side, please use Central Avenue to access the stadium parking lots.

*Rick Bozich looks at all of the UofL talent in the NFL Draft pool (from the SI preview)

Charlie Strong scampered around left end and departed the University of Louisville for Texas more than 15 months ago. But the final numbers on Strong’s four-season stay as the U of L head coach are still being written.

In fact, the latest rewrite is about to be filed.

Sports Illustrated has ranked the Top 300 prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft, which begins April 30 in Chicago. By logging the Sports Illustrated numbers, this is what I discovered:

*Louisville is one of five programs with five players ranked among the Top 150 prospects.

*The Cardinals have 10 guys ranked in SI’s Top 300.

*For the second consecutive season, Louisville will produce at least one first-round selection.

That player will be receiver DeVante Parker, a prospect that SI ranks the ninth-best player in this draft. Parker has been invited to appear in Chicago for the first round.

A year ago, three Louisville players – safety Calvin Pryor, defensive end Marcus Smith and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater – were first-round picks.

*The C-J’s Jeff Greer gives you four story lines to what for in the spring game

Protection. No matter who is under center for Louisville, the offensive line is a huge question mark. Aaron Epps had a solid finish to last season and moves to strong-side tackle. Kelby Johnson couldn’t beat out Ryan Mack last fall for weak-side tackle, and Epps eventually passed them both, but he’s made enough progress to hold the position this spring.

The interior linemen, though, have their hands full against Louisville’s fierce defensive linemen like DeAngelo Brown and Sheldon Rankins. Centers Tobijah Hughley and TC Klusman have struggled with consistency. Where U of L puts heralded signee Khalil Hunter will say a lot about that position. Hunter is a versatile lineman, and he’ll go where he’s most needed.

*UofL landed a former 4-star RB (who was once committed to Arkansas and Notre Dame)

James, 6-0, 240, is a former member of the Top247. After de-committing from the Razorbacks and Irish, James signed with Texas State and spent his freshman season there before attending Navarro (TX) College this year.

James told InsideTheVille he will report to Louisville in June. James will visit Louisville this weekend and attend Friday’s spring game.

“I will be reporting to campus on June 1 or if I get more information about move in dates over this weekend it may change,” James said.

 

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