When Louisville hired Charlie Strong in December of 2009, he didn't full take on the job until after the Florida Gators beat Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl in January 2010. Still, in his first month on the job, Strong finished the recruiting period by landing several high profile prospects at the last minute and established a pattern. Last year, Strong got Teddy Bridgewater in late December and parlayed that commitment into a late run that catapulted the Cardinals into most recruiting services top 25 recruiting classes. It appears Strong is once again closing strong and his 2012 recruiting class is deep, balanced, and has the added benefit of having several key early enrollees already on campus.
Louisville will be replacing its defensive leader in middle linebacker Dexter Heyman, and Strong has made it clear that linebacker is his top priority. Florida linebacker Patrick Jean has long been committed. In the past month, however, Strong has landed the jewels of his recruiting class in linebackers James Burgess, Keith Brown, and Nick Dawson. Brown and Dawson both committed to Louisville at the US Army All-American Game in San Antonio on national television, providing a bit of good publicity for the program. Dawson was also rated the no. 89 overall player in the latest Rivals 100 rankings. Brown was rated the no. 1 linebacker in the state of Florida by Rivals.com.
Yesterday, Strong got more good news as he seeks to put the finishing touches on the class of 2012. Seeking a running back, Strong possibly ended the day with commitments from two. Three-star running back Brandon Radcliff out of Miami. Within the hour, Louisville three-star running back Anthony "Ace" Wales also committed to the Cardinals. Wales' commitment is particularly good news for Louisville as Central High School had been a stronghold for Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips. While there is still some uncertainty about Wales and whether or not he will sign in February or "greyshirt", to get him when he was clearly a target of the in-state rival was big for Louisville.
Strong's team will also benefit from several talented transfers and early enrollees. Safety Gerod Holliman, a four-star prospect that actually signed in 2011, did not qualify but has now enrolled in the January term and will participate in spring practice. Joining Holliman are linebackers Brown and Burgess and junior college tight end Ryan Hubbell. In addition to the signees that are joining the team in January, Strong also welcomed two former Florida players to Louisville. Gerald Christian was one of the nation's highest rated tight end prospect and Robert Clark was a three-star wide receiver. Both signed with Florida in February 2010. Clark and Christian will have to sit out the 2012 season and will have two years of eligibility after that.
Strong's third straight strong finish has the Cardinals recruiting class ranked in the low 30s by most recruiting services, but ESPN's recruiting coverage has the Cardinals in its top 25.
For more coverage of Big East football recruiting, visit our football recruiting section.