LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The list of Charlie Strong's fourth University of Louisville football recruiting class was not long.
But it was Quick.
"We got the wide receiver we wanted," Strong said Wednesday with characteristic understatement while announcing his 17-player signing class for 2013.
Trinity High School wide receiver James Quick, Kentucky's top high school player and the leading wide receiver in state high school history, staked Strong to a successful class when he picked U of L over Ohio State in a high-profile national television announcement during the Army All-American Bowl -- during which he scored the winning TD and was named the game's MVP.
Yes, he's only one player -- and a player at a position where U of L already is stocked, at that. But Quick's staying home brought both substance and symbolism. Paired with Charlie Strong's new contract extension that made him one of the 10 highest-paid coaches in college football and coming on the heels of a Sugar Bowl shocker over Florida, Quick's signing gave Strong all the momentum he needed.
Strong knew going in he wouldn't land a class that ranked high in the overall ratings, because he only could sign 17 players. But he also knew Quick was the one player he couldn't lose, and the one that would give even a small class a big sizzle.
"Quick really enhanced our recruiting early," Strong said. "He announced at the Army All-American game and really gave notoriety to our program at a big time after a big Sugar Bowl win. . . . You just look at his athletic ability and what he can do. Anytime he touches the ball he can make things happen and be a great contributor. Wherever we use him, he's a guy we can move around, and has great hands. You look at his family, his father was a player here, his mom and dad did a great job of raising him."
Strong said his rapport with Quick wasn't one built on long conversations.
"He doesn't talk much," Strong said. "It was hard to get him to really talk. He's the way he is. He's an outstanding player, you just had to know your conversation was going to be very limited. I'd say, 'How's everything going?' He'd say, 'Going good coach.' . . . It was going to be a very short conversation. You just have to know the young man. I said this, if he's talking to me like that, he's talking to everyone else like that. But it was big for our program. You need a big name, and getting a player like Quick was something special."
If the conversations with Quick went quickly, there was no shortage of conversation from Lexington Catholic quarterback Kyle Bolin. He has been as ardent a backer as Strong and the Cardinals have had, even in the midst of Big Blue country, and he has the hate mail to prove it. A knee injury cut short his senior season, but he still threw for just over 7,000 yards and 63 touchdowns in his career.
"He is an outstanding quarterback, had an injury his senior season, but he'll bounce back," Strong said. " . . . You really like his leadership qualities. You expect that of a quarterback and that's a strength of his. And then, he was a guy who called recruits for us. Guys would say all the time, 'I talked to Kyle Bolin and he said to give you a call.' I was getting calls from guys I didn't even know who they were. And they said, 'Well Kyle gave me your number.'"
Overall, Strong's class was not about numbers. But it does contain some interesting numbers. Of the 17 signees, 10 are defensive players.
He signed five secondary players -- three cornerbacks, two safeties. All five are either 6-1 or 6-2, and all from the state of Florida.
Height was something Strong looked at throughout the class, with all but one player coming in at over six feet. Particularly with the defensive backs, Strong said he wanted players with length and range who could match up with taller receivers.
He took a trio of offensive lineman, and likes the potential of tight end Keith Towbridge out of Toledo, Ohio.
Strong also gave updates on several other issues. He said that he and Tom Jurich continue to look for a possible high-profile addition to next season's schedule.
"You know anybody who wants to play?" Strong asked reporters.
Strong also took one recruit to task. Of Gainesville, Fla., linebacker Keith Kelsey's stunt of putting on a Kentucky hat, then removing it for a U of L hat during his announcement, Strong said: " I told him that you can't do that to any program because all coaches work hard in recruiting and you don't embarrass another program. … You've got to have respect for them. This recruiting process is getting out of hand where everybody wants their own stage and to be on Twitter and be on Facebook and make their own announcement. But you have to respect the coaches and their programs."
Wednesday, March 5 2014 8:53 AM EST2014-03-05 13:53:25 GMT
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