LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The University of Louisville football team has signed 22 student-athletes to national letters of intent for the 2008 season, head coach Steve Kragthorpe announced Wednesday, the first day of the national signing period.
The class is highlighted by seven junior-college players who enrolled in January and 13 high school student athletes. Offensive lineman Mario Benavides also enrolled in January and has been working out with the team.
Linebacker Chris Campa, wide receiver Maurice Clark, defensive tackle Tyler Jessen, safety Justin Mathews, offensive linemen Charles Millenbaugh, Byron Stingily and safety Josh Wiley are all enrolled at Louisville. Tight end Rock Keys is not enrolled yet in classes, but should be by the summer.
"We're very excited about this class," Kragthorpe said. "There is a lot of talent at a number of different positions and we've also filled a number of needs."
As has been typical over the last few recruiting classes, the Cardinals landed one of the best players in the city of Louisville in linebacker Dexter Heyman from Male High School. Heyman, the lone signee from the state of Kentucky, is rated as one of the top recruits in the state and a top 40 defensive end nationally.
The Cardinals also landed a big haul from the nation's top-ranked high school team in Cincinnati St. Xavier. Running back Darius Ashley, tight end Stephon Ball and defensive end Greg Scruggs all signed with Louisville. Ashley is one of top running backs in the state of Ohio after running for over 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns. Ball is a big target who will play tight end for the Cardinals, while Scruggs, who has only played one year of scholastic football, has unlimited potential and could be the sleeper of the class. He recorded nine sacks and 51 quarterback pressures during his senior campaign.
Louisville landed its fourth signee from the Buckeye State with the signing of quarterback Zack Stoudt. The son of former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt, Zack threw for 3,547 yards, while completing 65.5 percent of his passes.
For the first time in recent years, the Cardinals landed a pair of standouts from the state of Texas in offensive lineman Mario Benavides and wide receiver Jacques Caldwell. Benavides, who is already enrolled at U of L, is a top 35 offensive lineman and an All-State selection. Caldwell is one of the fastest players in the state being clocked at 4.27 in the 40-yd dash. He battled injuries last season, but totaled over 1,100 yards as a junior. He has been clocked at 21.08 in the 200-meter run.
Tight end Nathan Nord, who is the nephew of current Cardinals' tight end coach Greg Nord, was one of the top Florida signees and fills a big need for the Cardinals, as both tight ends graduated.
The Cardinals signed two student-athletes from the state of Georgia in kicker Chris Philpott and defensive tackle Randy Salmon. Philpott converted 12-of-15 field goals last season and booted 53 of 57 kickoffs into the end zone. Salmon recorded 47 tackles and 3.5 sacks as a senior.
Louisville filled a huge void at linebacker by signing a pair of solid athletes in Jon Dempsey from the College of Sequoias and Keith Baker from Scotch-Plains-Fanwood High School in New Jersey. Dempsey was a two-year starter at linebacker and recorded over 100 tackles in each season. Baker is an athletic backer who recorded 118 tackles and nine sacks.
Ryan Barnes is an offensive lineman from Carmel, Ind., and helps the Cardinals build depth along the offensive line. Barnes can play both tackle positions and is extremely athletic.
Damion Dixon hails from Louisiana and is a big and speedy receiver. He missed a lot of his senior season with an injury, but still caught 18 passes for 300 yards. He did catch 38 passes for 901 yards as a junior.
The signees hail from 12 states, including Ohio (4), California (3), Mississippi (3), Texas (2), Florida (2), Georgia (2), New Jersey (1), Illinois (1), Kentucky (1), Kansas (1), Louisiana (1) and Indiana (1).
2008 Louisville Football Recruiting Class
Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (Previous School)
Darius Ashley RB 5-9 182 Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)
Keith Baker LB 6-3 230 Scotch Plains, N.J. (Scotch Plains-Fanwood)
Stephon Ball TE 6-4 215 Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)
Ryan Barnes OL 6-6 300 Carmel, Ind. (Carmel)
Mario Benavides OL 6-4 285 Los Fresnos, Texas (Los Fresnos)
Jacques Caldwell ATH 5-9 175 Garland, Texas (Garland)
Jon Dempsey LB 6-0 233 Visalia, Calif. (College of the Sequoias)
Damion Dixon WR 6-3 180 Port Allen, La. (Port Allen)
Dexter Heyman LB 6-3 225 Louisville, Ky. (Male)
Nate Nord TE 6-5 230 Boca Raton, Fla. (West Boca Raton)
Chris Philpott K 6-0 180 Atlanta, Ga. (St. Pius X)
Randy Salmon DT 6-3 290 Stockbridge, Ga. (Stockbridge)
Greg Scruggs DE 6-5 235 Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)
Zack Stoudt QB 6-4 210 Columbus, Ohio (Dublin-Coffman)
Early Junior College Signees (8)
Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (Previous School)
Chris Campa LB 6-2 220 Orlando, Fla. (Butler CC)
Maurice Clark WR 6-3 200 Lake Elsinore, Calif. (Saddleback)
Tyler Jessen DT 6-2 300 Wichita, Kan. (Butler CC)
Rock Keys TE 6-5 235 Collins, Miss. (Jones County JC)
Justin Mathews S 6-2 215 Leaksville, Miss. (Jones County JC)
C.J. Millenbah OL 6-4 295 San Diego, Calif. (Grossmont College)
Byron Stingily OL 6-6 295 Country Club Hills, Ill. (Joliet)
Josh Wiley S 6-1 200 Hattiesburg, Miss. (Pearl River CC)