Defensive Line Depth a Focus for Louisville in Spring Portal Window

The Cardinals added four lineman in the spring to an already deep defensive front.
The Louisville defense takes to the field during practice on April 12, 2024
The Louisville defense takes to the field during practice on April 12, 2024 / Matt Stone/The Courier Journal / USA
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Even before the spring transfer portal window this past April, the Louisville football program was set up to have a very good defensive line for the 2024 season.

For starters, they are returning multiple linemen from last season that helped the Cardinals post the No. 9 rushing defense and No. 21 total defense in the FBS. Players such as All-American defensive end Ashton Gillotte, plus longtime veterans like Ramon Puryear, Dezmond Tell and others. Then in the first portal window immediately after the 2023 season, Louisville brought in Harvard's Thor Griffith and FIU's Jordan Guerad to bolster the depth.

But Brohm and Co. weren't done. In the spring portal window, not only was defensive line a major point of emphasis for Louisville, it was almost the only focal point. Of the five transfers that Cardinals landed during this time, four of them were defensive linemen.

This recruiting strategy during the spring portal window, according to Brohm, was a decisive effort on their part to add playmakers in the trenches, and not a byproduct of simply grabbing whomever they could.

"I think the trenches is the area that you got to be good at," he said Monday. "There's a lot of great skill players throughout the country that you can recruit and go get, and obviously some a little bit better than others. But on the defense and offensive front, you've got to be good. You've got to be physical, you've got to be athletic, you've got to be able to change the outcome of the game. I think we understand that, and we tried to attack it in that way."

Related: Louisville HC Jeff Brohm Provides Summer Update

Louisville focusing on the defensive line during this time wasn't because of underperformance by this unit during spring ball. As Brohm eluded to, it was simply a proactive effort to bolster the depth across the line and elevate their overall play. Especially considering the D-line did take a bit of a step back in the final month of the 2023 season.

As a result, the Cardinals brought in four players who should be ready to contribute immediately this upcoming season.

Myles Jernigan was a multi-year starter at edge rusher with Cal, Tramel Logan was the same at USF, as was Richard Kinely II as Middle Tennessee. Rene Konga also brings a fair amount of experience with him at both the edge and interior during his time at Rutgers. Even the lone non-lineman spring portal addition, Dan Foster Jr., in an inside linebacker who will only help the front seven.

Put it all together, and you have a defensive line that is shaping up to be one of the best in the ACC, and quite possibly contend for one of the best in all of college football.

"I think we have quite a bit of depth on the defensive line, and we can play quite a few guys," Brohm said. "Obviously, you want to see difference makers emerge that can take over the game, but at the same time, we're gonna have competition."

The depth and production in the trenches is just one factor behind what could be a very disruptive defense in 2024. At linebacker, Louisville also brings back key playmakers in T.J. Quinn, Stanquan Clark and Benjamin Perry. The Cardinals' secondary has an upper tier blend of returners like Quincy Riley, M.J. Griffin and Devin Neal, mixed with impact newcomers such as Corey Thornton, Tamarion McDonald and Tahveon Nicholson.

Heading into Brohm's second year at the helm, there is playmaking potential all over the defense, and the head man in charge likes the pieces he has.

"I think we're going to be able to play a lot of guys on defense," Brohm said. "We want to be as aggressive as we can, but yet not give up big plays, keep the score low and create turnovers. I like our pieces. Without question, I expect our defense to play very well this year."

(Photo of Louisville players: Matt Stone/The Courier Journal / USA)

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Matthew McGavic


McGavic is a 2016 Sport Administration graduate of the University of Louisville, and a native of the Derby City. He has been covering the Cardinals in various capacities since 2017, with a brief stop in Atlanta, Ga. on the Georgia Tech beat. He is also a co-host of the 'From The Pink Seats' podcast on the State of Louisville network. Video gamer, bourbon drinker and dog lover. Find him on Twitter at @Matt_McGavic