The Five Most Under-Ranked Recruits in Louisville Football History

Matthew McGavic

Anyone around college football who is even remotely familiar with recruiting will tell you it is an inexact science to the say the least. Five-star prospects aren't always a surefire bet to be dominant forces on the gridiron in college, while conversely three-star recruits will sometimes outkick the coverage once they get to the next level.

The Louisville Football program is a perfect example of the latter, as many of their signees over the years have gone on to have collegiate careers that weren't reflective of a three-star evaluation. Even eventual Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson was pegged as a high-end three-star prospect by some recruiting services.

So who are some of the most under-ranked recruits in the history of the program? Using the 247Sports Composite as a reference point, let's take a look:

Sheldon Rankins

Ranked just barely inside the Top 800 in the Class of 2012 (No. 798) and collecting just twelve DI offers, Rankins went on just two official visits to Wake Forest and Louisville before deciding to commit the the Cards. The defensive tackle was a primarily a backup in the first half of his collegiate career, but then exploded in his junior & senior campaigns to become a consistent force on the defensive line. He collected 26.5 tackles for loss and 14.0 sacks in those two seasons alone, resulting in a pair of Third-Team All-ACC selections and being selected No. 12 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints.

Jaire Alexander

A one-time South Carolina commit, Alexander was barely a Top 1000 prospect (No. 941) when he arrived on campus in 2015. Though it didn't take long for him to establish himself as one of the top cornerbacks in college football, as his sophomore season saw him come away with five interceptions and nine pass defections. A knee injury limited his play time in 2017, but by then he had already developed a reputation as one of the best one-on-one defenders in the nation. He was selected by the Green Bay Packers with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Lorenzo Mauldin

Mauldin received just six D1 offers in high school and was already arriving on campus as part of a 2011 class that included the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Gerod Holliman & DeVante Parker. Though the DE/OLB hybrid quickly developed into a fan-favorite in his time at the University of Louisville, and was named Second-Team All-Conference in both his junior and senior seasons in the AAC & ACC respectively. During those seasons, he collected 27 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks, resulting in him being taken at No. 82 overall by the New York Jets in 2015.

Javian Hawkins

It might be a tad early to call Hawkins one of the most under-ranked prospects in Louisville history, but after having the season he had in 2019, it's safe to say he might have been under-evaluated considering he was not even nationally ranked when he arrived on campus in 2018. He was not originally projected to be the starting running back in year one of the Satterfield era, but the redshirt freshman wound up breaking the single-season UofL rushing record (by a RB) with 1,525 yards, and finished seventh in the nation in that category.

Jonathan Greenard

While he did not finish his career at the University of Louisville, his progression as a collegiate player is one that absolutely cannot be ignored. According to the Composite, Greenard is one of the lowest-ranked recruits to ever sign with the Cardinals, doing so as part of the Class of 2015. Redshirting his first year, his breakout season came in 2017 where he led the team in tackles for loss and sacks with 15.5 & 7.0 respectively. He suffered a season-ending wrist injury in the first game of 2018 against Alabama, and transferred to Florida after the conclusion of the season. In his lone season as a Gator, he led the SEC in TFL's and sacks with 15.5 and 9.5 respectively, and was later drafted at No. 90 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.

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