(Photo of Malik Cunningham: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Ever since the 2020 season ended for the Louisville football program, it has been a whirlwind of roster upheaval. Between players declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft, transfers coming in and out, as well as new recruits joining, at times it has been hard to track which scholarship players are joining, leaving and staying for another year.
Now that the dust has settled a bit, we have some idea as to what Louisville's roster will look like for the 2021 season. As Feb. 2, the Cardinals have 85 players on scholarship - meeting the NCAA allotted maximum of 85. There are currently three players who have not announced if they will return to the program by way of the extra year provided by the NCAA in light of COVID-19.
As we progress through the beginning of another long college football offseason, take a look below on who's in, who's out, and who's back for the Cardinals for the 2021 season:
*Due to extra season provided by NCAA, each player's class is noted by their 2020 class (Fr., So., etc.), with the exception of incoming high school seniors.*
*This list will be updated if/when additional roster moves are made*
Who's In (1): TJ Lewis (Fr.)
Who's Out (2): Jawon Pass (Transfer - Towson), Tee Webb (Transfer - Southern Miss.)
Who's Back (2): Malik Cunningham (R-Jr.), Evan Conley (So.)
Summary: Arguably the most thin position on the entire roster for Louisville. Despite a down 2020, Cunningham should retain his starting job for next season barring even more setbacks
On Roster: 3
Who's In (1): Trevion Cooley (Fr.)
Who's Out (1): Javian Hawkins (NFL)
Who's Back (4): Maurice Burkley (R-Sr.), Hassan Hall (Jr.), Jalen Mitchell (R-Fr.), Aidan Robbins (R-Fr.)
Summary: Louisville's top offensive threat might be leaving for the NFL, but there is a solid level of talent still left in the running back room. Expect the Cards to go with running back by committee next season, at least in the first half.
On Roster: 5
Who's In (3): Shai Werts (R-Sr., Transfer - Georgia Southern), Ahmari Huggins-Bruce (Fr.), Demetrius Cannon (Fr.)
Who's Out (3): Dez Fitzpatrick (NFL), Tutu Atwell (NFL), Corey Reed (Transfer - Jackson State)
Who's Back (8): Justin Marshall (R-Jr.), Josh Johnson (R-Jr.), Braden Smith (So.), Tyler Harrell (R-So.), Nick Malito (Fr.), Christian Fitzpatrick (Fr.), Jordan Watkins (Fr.)
Undecided (1): Roscoe Johnson (Gr.)
Summary: With Louisville's No. 1 & 2 receiving threats heading to the league, the Cards should have a very different passing attack next season. Huggins-Bruce and Smith bring a lot of speed to the table, as does Werts, who is converting to WR after a long career as a QB at Georgia Southern.
On Roster: 11
Who's In (2): Vic Mullen (Fr.), Christian Pedersen (Fr.)
Who's Out (2): Ean Pfiefer (Not returning), Tobias Little (Transfer - Missouri State)
Who's Back (5): Isaac Martin (R-Jr.), Marshon Ford (R-So.), Dez Melton (R-Fr.), Duane Martin (Fr.), Desmond Daniels (Fr.)
Summary: Pfiefer denied the opportunity for an ultra-rare seventh year, but Louisville's top tight end in Ford is back. Overall, a fairly deep TE room that should help boost the offense that OC Dwayne Ledford wants to run.
On Roster: 7
Who's In (3): Bryan Hudson (So., Transfer - Virginia Tech), Aaron Gunn (Fr.), Michael Gonzalez (Fr.)
Who's Out (1): Jackson Gregory (Transfer - TBD)
Who's Back (12): Robbie Bell (R-Sr.), Cole Bentley (Sr.), Caleb Chandler (R-Jr.), Adonis Boone (Jr.), Trevor Reid (Jr.), Josh Black (R-Fr.), Renato Brown (R-Fr.), Zach Williamson (R-Fr.), Austin Collins (Fr.), Tim Lawson (Fr.), Kobe Baynes (Fr.), Luke Kandra (Fr.)
Undecided (1): Cam DeGeorge (Gr.)
Summary: Louisville returns their entire starting five offensive linemen from last season, as well as plenty of solid backup options. Could be deepest position on roster if DeGeorge opts for another year.
On Roster: 15
Who's In (5): Caleb Banks (Fr.), Victoine Brown (Fr.), Ryheem Craig (Fr.), Ashton Gilotte (Fr.), RJ Sorensen (Fr.)
Who's Out (1): Jared Goldwire (NFL)
Who's Back (9): Tabarius Peterson (R-Sr.), Malik Clark (R-Jr.), Yaya Diaby (Jr.), Dayna Kinnaird (R-Jr.), Zach Edwards (R-Fr.), JaDarien Boykin (Fr.), Henry Bryant (Fr.), Jared Dawson (Fr.), Dezmond Tell (Fr.)
Undecided (1): Derek Dorsey (R-Sr.)
Summary: Only three players here (Peterson, Clark, Kinnaird) are ones that HC Scott Satterfield & DC Bryan Brown did not recruit. A young, but relatively deep position. Main question is who takes over at nose tackle.
On Roster: 14
Who's In (1): Jaylin Alderman (Fr.)
Who's Out (2): Dorian Etheridge (NFL), Robert Hicks (Transfer - TBD)
Who's Back (4): CJ Avery (Sr.), Monty Montgomery (R-Jr.), KJ Cloyd (So.), Dorian Jones (R-Fr.)
Summary: Not a ton of depth here, but retaining CJ Avery for another year was a huge boost for the program. Monty Montgomery could (should) elevate to starter with Dorian Etheridge heading to the league.
On Roster: 5
Who's In (1): Jackson Hamilton (Fr.)
Who's Out (2): Rodjay Burns (NFL), Thurman Geathers (Transfer - Arkansas State)
Who's Back (6): Nick Okeke (R-Jr.), Yasir Abdullah (Jr.), Marvin Dallas (Jr.), Allen Smith (R-Fr.), Kam Wilson (Fr.), Zay Peterson (Fr.)
Summary: Losing Rodjay Burns and Thurman Geathers hurts in terms of talent and depth, but Yasir Abdullah and Nick Okeke are serviceable starters for next season.
On Roster: 7
Who's In (7): Kenderick Duncan Jr. (R-Jr., Transfer - Georgia Southern), Rance Conner (Fr.), Derrick Edwards III (Fr.), Benjamin Perry (Fr.), TJ Quinn (Fr.), Bralyn Oliver (Fr.), Kani Walker (Fr.)
Who's Out (6): Isaiah Hayes (NFL), Marlon Character (NFL), Russ Yeast (Transfer - Kansas State), Anthony Johnson (Transfer - Virginia), Telly Plummer (UT Chattanooga), Trenell Troutman (Transfer - TBD)
Who's Back (8): Jack Fagot (R-Jr.), Chandler Jones (Jr.), Kei'Trel Clark (So.), Lovie Jenkins (Fr.), Marqui Lowery (Fr.), Jamel Starks (Fr.), Josh Minkins (Fr.), Greedy Vance (Fr.)
Summary: Without a doubt, the most roster turnover happened in the secondary. Fortunately, Kei'Trel Clark is back for his second year in Louisville, along with several elite prospects.
On Roster: 15
Who's In (0): None
Who's Out (0): None
Who's Back (3): Mitch Hall (Sr.), Brock Travelstead (Fr.), James Turner (So.)
Summary: Long snapper Mitch Hall is back, so is walk-on punter Ryan Harwell and kicker James Turner who was awarded a scholarship in January. Walk-on punter Logan Lupo entered the transfer portal in January.
On Roster: 3
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