Louisville football could be closing in on its next big name safety

Safety has quietly been one of the best groups for the Louisville football program over the last decade and Scott Satterfield could be closing in on the next star at the position.

When you think of Louisville football and the success they’ve had at certain positions, I can almost guarantee that safety doesn’t come to mind.

Quarterbacks like Johnny Unitas, Chris Redman, Dave Ragone, Stefon LeFors, Brian Brohm, Teddy Bridgewater, and Lamar Jackson have helped the Cards rank as the third place for “Quarterback U” by Sports Illustrated. Roman Oben, Eric Wood, Jason Spitz, Breno Giacomini, Gerald Christian, John Miller, Jamon Brown, and the recently drafted Mekhi Becton have all gone on to be drafted after having incredibly successful careers at Louisville.

Those positions clearly are two of the more celebrated at Louisville, and even WR, TE, DL, and CB’s would come to mind when it comes to the talent produced by the Cards. However, I would make the argument that in the last decade the safety group has been one of the most productive and has produced multiple draft picks.

Since 2010 Louisville has been fortunate to see players like Hakeem Smith, Calvin Pryor, James Sample, Gerod Holliman, Joshua Harvey-Clemons, and now Russ Yeast all have All-Conference caliber careers and everyone outside of Smith (and Yeast, of course) have either gone on to be drafted and play in the NFL.

Since the graduation of Harvey-Clemons, the safety play at Louisville has taken a dip as Peter Sirmon and Brian Van Gorder were never able to develop the talent that previous coordinators and coaching staff’s had in the past. That changed this past year when Bryan Brown came to Louisville, following Scott Satterfield from Appalachian State, and quickly saw one player who had the potential to be the next star at Louisville while turning veteran Khane Pass into one of the most dominant run-stopping safeties in the ACC.

That was Russ Yeast, who moved over from the cornerback position after pulling his name from the transfer portal. As a junior Yeast became one of the most productive and consistent playmakers for the improved Louisville defense in 2019, 61 sacks, four forced fumbles, and one interception and looks poised to be a potential draftee in the 2021 NFL Draft with a big season.

As Scott Satterfield and Brown look to build out their roster’s for future seasons, starting with 2021, they’ve made the safety position a priority on the recruiting trail. In the class of 2019, the staff landed two important commitments at the safety position, including three-star Lovie Jenkins who could be a big part of the defense right away after enrolling early, as well as three-star local, Josh Minkins.

The staff has continued to look to find the “next” guy in the class of 2021 and they could have potentially found that in three-star Benjamin Perry Jr. The Chicago, IL product ranks as the 29th best safety in the country according to 247 Sports rankings and the 486th best player in the class. With over 25 scholarship offers, Perry is a top safety target for many schools – mostly in Big Ten territory.

The Cards have been all over him for quite some time now offering back in January of 2019  and ultimately got to meet him up close on an unofficial visit earlier this spring. That’s led to serious interest from both parties and as Perry’s commitment date sits a little less than 24 hours away, Louisville may be in the best position to the land the stand out safety.

At 6’3, Perry has great size for the position, and considering his speed, athleticism, instincts, and ability to hit and hit hard, he’s the exact player you’d expect to see playing for Bryan Brown and back end’s coach, ShaDon Brown.

Allien Trieu of 247 Sports broke down Perry’s game, writing:

Long defender who looks like a prototype on the hoof. Covers a lot of ground with his stride. Physical in run support and also excellent on blitzes. Showed good anticipation and ball skills both on film and in 7-on-7. Does not have verified speed times but has good play speed. Big frame may cause him to move closer to the line of scrimmage in college if he keeps growing. Must continue to polish man to man skills to broaden versatility. Can be a ROVER or a true safety at the next level, a lot of that will depend on growth but combination of size and skill set is that of a Power 5 starter.

Perry is an interesting case of recruiting location, considering he’s from Chicago, IL, not known to be a pipeline for Louisville. The new staff has continued to show a willingness to go into Big Ten and Big 12 country (even into the west coast and Pac 12 region) in order to get the guys they feel fit their system best. Louisville recently landed the commitment of tight end Victor Mullen out of Ottowa, IL, and now could be close to beating out Minnesota and Michigan State for Perry’s service. They also hold commitments from the state of Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, all considered hotbeds for the Big Ten.

Things looked to be headed towards a commitment to Minnesota earlier in the spring, but in the class couple of weeks, the tide has turned in Louisville’s favor. While recruiting is an never-ending cycle of things changing, two crystal balls have been logged for Perry to commit to the Cards, one of which was flipped from Minnesota.

Perry would give Louisville their second safety in the class of 2021, following the commitment of another big, long, and athletic player in Brayln Oliver and would be the sixth player to pledge to Scott Satterfield.

Next: 2021 quarterbacks recruiting big board

As Louisville begins to put together another talented class, Perry will easily be at the top of the list of players capable of making a major impact as a freshman. His