In August, Louisville senior quarterback Chris Redman lives in
Johnny Unitas Hall, and every morning on his way to two-a-days
he walks past a giant statue of Unitas and through the museum
dedicated to the Cardinals' most renowned football alumnus. Once
the season begins, Redman, who owns every significant passing
record at Louisville, will be gunning for the Unitas Golden Arm
Award, given annually to the nation's top senior quarterback.
But Redman feels an even deeper connection with Johnny U. "Mr.
Unitas wasn't one of the quickest guys in football, and neither
am I," says the 6'3", 225-pound Redman. "Still, he proved it was
just as important to play smart and play tough. He also made
himself a quarterback on the next level. I think about that a
Unitas was drafted in the ninth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers
in 1955, only to be cut before the season began. Later that year
the Baltimore Colts signed him out of a semipro league, and he
went on to have a Hall of Fame career.
Redman's route to the NFL should be much smoother. Last year he
guided the nation's No. 1 offense and completed 65% of his
passes for 4,042 yards and 29 touchdowns, albeit mostly against
second-tier opponents in Conference USA. In addition to having
the sort of numbers scouts look for, he has a solid pigskin
pedigree: His paternal grandfather, Lloyd, was a center and
linebacker for the Cardinals in 1946, and his father, Bob,
played linebacker for Louisville in '68 and '69.
Redman, who has played for two coaches in four seasons, has had
to master three offensive schemes. Like Unitas, he appears to be
blessed with a head for the game, a cool confidence and an
in-your-face toughness. "Chris is one of those players who will
never cease to amaze you," says Cardinals coach John L. Smith.