BOZICH | Can Louisville expand football recruiting brand to West - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Can Louisville expand football recruiting brand to West Coast? Ask Heyward

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Keith Heyward will coach the Louisville secondary next season. Keith Heyward will coach the Louisville secondary next season.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Georgia, Alabama and Florida has been recruiting sweet spots for the University of Louisville football team for more than a decade. That will not change.

But can the Cardinals grow their brand by targeting and adding select recruiting pieces from the West Coast?

A defensive back here? A wide receiver there?

“We’ll find out,” Keith Heyward said, with a smile. “I’ll go wherever to find the best players that are going to help us win.”

Heyward will direct the discussion. U of L formally announced his addition as the secondary coach Thursday.

Heyward played at Taft High School in suburban Los Angeles. His last three coaching stops – Oregon State, Washington and USC – have all been Pac-12 campuses. Heyward said that U of L head coach Bobby Petrino has not officially outlined his recruiting responsibilities but this is a guy who understands how to navigate the Harbor and Santa Monica freeways.

“Coaching and playing over there has been on the West Coast,” Heyward said. “But those that know me close, I was actually born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Queens, N.Y. until I was about 13 and that’s when I moved (to the L.A. area).

“People may label me as a West Coast guy. I feel like I can go anywhere and be in there anywhere and recruit, meet people and get along with anyone. At SC, we had a little bit of an area, but then we also nationally recruited. So I’ve been just about everywhere to recruit.”

Metro Los Angeles is a great place to start. In 2013, Sports Illustrated reported that over a five-year period California produced an average of 236 FCS level recruits per season. Only Texas (358) and Florida (320) averaged more.

Talent abounds in the Los Angeles area. Maybe Heyward can convince one or two to play for a program that intends to compete fiercely with Clemson and Florida State in the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Heyward was instrumental in helping the Trojans earn eight commitments, including two five-star prospects, over the last two seasons. But USC coach Clay Helton fired Heyward and two other assistants at the end of last season.

It was a difficult season in Troy. Head coach Steve Sarkisian was forced out in the mid-year because of personal problems.

The Trojans secondary ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in passing yards allowed and eighth in touchdowns allowed. USC lost three of its first six games before rallying to play Stanford in the Pac-12 title game.

Heyward has worked for Mike Riley at Oregon State as well as Sarkisian at Washington and USC.

Heyward said that Petrino called him to gauge his interest in the job. He also interviewed for a position at Arizona State. He said that he was told he would coach cornerbacks, safeties and nickel backs.

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