How Louisville football coach Jeff Brohm balances transfer portal, high school recruiting

Louisville Courier Journal College football used to buzz on the first Wednesday in February, but Louisville football's office was quiet the morning of Feb. 7. The traditional National Signing Day seemed to be just another day for the Cardinals.

Their freshman class took advantage of the December signing day — with some players already on campus as midyear enrollees. More of U of L's focus shifted toward the transfer portal. “It's kind of been an uneventful day for us,” Louisville coach Jeff Brohm said Feb.

7. “I just think the college landscape has changed quite a bit. Yes, it will continue to probably adapt moving forward even more, but we just try to figure it out and make the most of it.

” Like many college football programs across the country, U of L must toe the line of recruiting and developing high school talent while taking advantage of veteran transfers who can help the team win sooner. Brohm’s win-now mentality paid off last year when the Cardinals signed 25 transfer portal players, many of whom helped the team to a historic season. “You want to build for the future and all that, but the important thing is always how can we win this next game?” Brohm said.

“How can we win this next year? I think that's what you've got to factor into it. So, for us, I've got to help our football team win in 2024. And I think that on paper, we did a pretty good job doing that.

” After signing 17 high school players in the 2023 class, Brohm signed 14 players in December during the 2024 recruiting cycle. The Cardinals already have started building the 2025 class with three verbal commitments from quarterback Mason Mims and offensive linemen Gradey Anthony and Jake Cook. Nationally, top programs including Alabama, Georgia and Texas are bringing in larger high school recruiting classes.

Over the past three years, the top-10 recruiting classes have increased in signees, going from 20. 4 players per class in 2021 to 24. 8 players per class in 2023.

Similarly, the number of outgoing undergraduate transfers increased from 1,410 in 2021 to 1,866 in 2022. Brohm said he doesn’t have a ratio of how many portal players to high school signees he brings in but wants to do “right by our state and the surrounding area" by recruiting high school athletes. With the rise of the transfer portal, there is a greater risk associated with that.

The development of younger players can sometimes be soured when programs “try to poach (players) from you in a way that you don't like,” Brohm said. The Cardinals did well in limiting departures from their freshman class. Of the 17 who signed in 2023, wide receiver William Fowles was the only one to transfer during the offseason.

Despite not signing any more high school recruits this month, Louisville signed 10 players from the portal since Dec. 20 for 26 transfers. Brohm said his roster is “pretty” full, so he won’t be too active in the portal now.

Still, coaches always keep an eye on the portal just in case. “We will be in position or are prepared to be in a position if there becomes room (on the roster), and that always changes,” Brohm said. “I think we get through spring practice and people see where they're at, see where they are on the depth chart, things can shake and move, and we've got to be prepared for that, but right now, it's a pretty full roster.

” .

Filed 02.18.2024

Players Mentioned in This Article

Brian Brohm

William Fowles

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