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Louisville's Influx of Newcomers Meshing Well With Returning Players

The Cardinals bring back multiple playmakers from the 2023 season, but also have plenty of new faces for their 2024 campaign.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Earlier this week, the Louisville football program took their first step towards preparing for their 2024 season.

On Tuesday, the Cardinals conducted their first of 15 spring practices. It wasn't the most complex of practices, as hitting was kept to a minimum and the drills and sessions were vanilla, but it served as a great first session for Louisville's roster.

"You know what, I thought we had a good first day of practice," head coach Jeff Brohm said. "I think our guys worked hard, they gave good effort today. I think they want to be good, and they want to succeed."

Louisville is coming off of a great first season under Brohm. In 2023, the Cardinals went 10-4 for their first 10-win season in a decade, and made their first appearance in the ACC Championship Game since joining the conference. When you look at the roster that Brohm currently has at his disposal it's hard not to envision them potentially running it back.

For starters, Louisville brings back a lot of production from last season. While they undoubtedly lost some impact playmakers, they are still returning 66 percent of their overall production from 2023, which according to ESPN is good for 44th in the FBS.

On top of that, the Cardinals have replenished who they lost - whether it be to graduation, the NFL Draft or the transfer portal - with a high amount of talent. According to On3, Louisville currently sports the No. 1 transfer portal class in all of college football. Then on the high school side of things, UofL signed the No. 30 recruiting class in the 2024 cycle, according to 247Sports.

Of course, you can have all the talent in the world, but if it doesn't come together on the field - or if the collection of newcomers and returners don't like each other - all that talent doesn't mean a thing. Fortunately, the players that did opt to come back have so far been meshing well with the ones who are entering their first season with Louisville.

"I think so far the team dynamic and chemistry is really good," Brohm said. "These guys work hard. I think they want to succeed and win. And they've come here with a purpose, which is always great. But you got to gel together. And when you go out there and practice, and you're playing fast and there's a lot of thinking that has to go on and happen before the ball is snapped. You can see we're way behind in that aspect.

"But I do think they'll put the time in and we've got to utilize every practice we can, every meeting we can in order to improve it and be at our best. We've got a long ways to go, but I do think we have some good athletes that have played some football and they want to win."

Just how many newcomers will Louisville have next season? Well, as of this writing, the Cardinals have landed 26 scholarship transfers, as well as 16 scholarship high school prospects. Of that group of 42 newcomers, 29 are already on campus for spring ball - 24 transfers and five prospects. 

Then when you throw in the fact that Louisville has 48 scholarship returners, you can understand how you could have a potential chemistry situation on your hands when you have almost a 50/50 split between newcomers and returners. Thankfully, that has not been the case so far.

"I think we're meshing great," safety Devin Neal said. "Obviously, we brought in a lot of veteran guys, so I feel like there's great additions to the safety room. A lot of experience, a lot of depth. I like that."

Of course, as Brohm eluded to earlier, there are still plenty of things to iron out on the actual football field. While he was more so on the optimistic side, co-defensive coordinator Ron English was, shall we say, less than impressed.

"I'm trying to be a little bit patient, because I felt that it was a loaf-fest yesterday," English said. "We just kind of jogged around all day. Some of it's guys not knowing, some of that is that they're out of shape, and some of it is getting back into it.

"But the reality that these guys have to understand is last year, it ain't like we had a whole bunch of all-stars and stuff. We played good on defense because we played fast and hard, and we were physical, and we execute. It all starts with how fast you play, and getting to the ball. So we got to do a better job of that, and that's really what came out of that practice yesterday."

One thing that will help, should any problems do arise in the future, is Louisville's continuity when it comes to Brohm's assistant coaching staff. The Cardinals are one of just a handful of programs that were able to retain all ten of their position assistants from the 2023 season. Brohm believes this will help serve as a massive boost to the program as they aim to try and get back to the ACC Championship, and potentially beyond.

"I really like our assistant coaching staff. I think they're really good people. They work hard, they want to win. They care about this football team. They understand what we're trying to get done and what improvements have to be made. How it starts with us.

"We've got to put the best plan together. We've got to get our guys ready to go mentally, but also physically. We've got to know the right mix of how much you can do and what you got to dial back on. But at the same time, you got to throw a lot at them right now and see what they can learn, see what they can handle, because if you can change some things up and do a couple different things at this level, each and every week, it's going to help you. So, our coaches are putting a lot of effort, a lot of time and work well together. I like what they’ve done to this point."

(Photo of Jeff Brohm: Sam Upshaw Jr. - Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK)

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