The Louisville football program lost one of their biggest stars on Tuesday.
Now, true junior receiver Tutu Atwell will be out due to injury for the last game of the season against Wake Forest which is causing him to pursue becoming a 2021 NFL Draft pick one week early.
The 5’9″ 165-pound Atwell finishes his career at Louisville with 2,303 yards receiving and 21 total touchdowns in three seasons.
Atwell played just nine games in 2020 as he battled injury. He racked up 625 yards and seven touchdowns on 46 receptions.
His best year as a Cardinal came in 2019 when he caught 69 balls for 1,272 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
The hype around this season was so big that it would have been extremely difficult for Atwell to live up to his billing. He was a fabulous player and representative of the university and he will certainly be missed in the future.
The next step for Atwell will be for him to prepare for the NFL Scouting Combine that is annually held just down the road from the ‘Ville in Indianapolis, Indiana. There, he will get to showcase his world-class speed on the field in a testing setting.
Many of the concerns for his NFL future stem from his true size. The official college team websites do not always tell the whole truth about height and weight. It is always skewed a bit from what the legitimate scouting combine numbers say.
Atwell will have to prove he has enough height and weight on his body to bear the NFL. That will go a long way in determining where he will be selected in 2021. If Atwell runs as well as people know he can and he has the necessary weight that NFL general managers feel comfortable with, Atwell will be able to raise his draft stock just in time to be selected in April.
Atwell’s departure marks a changing of the guard
Now that Tutu is gone and we have all of the memories to keep of his performances for the Cardinals, there is a sense that a changing of the guard is about to take place.
Javian Hawkins opted out of the season in mid-November while the team was struggling with Covid issues. Hawkins will not be returning as he has also stated he plans to enter the 2021 NFL Draft process and has since hired an agent.
Dez Fitzpatrick is a redshirt senior who would likely be welcomed back if he chooses, but I would put those chances at less than 50 percent with a possibility he explores his own options to turn professional after this year.
These three have been the trio of playmakers that could be counted on for the past two-plus seasons in Louisville. Now, all of a sudden, all three could be gone in a flash as they have earned the right to try their luck in the NFL.
Now, the U of L program will have to ask themselves what is next.
Could a trio of Jordan Watkins, Jalen Mitchell, and Marshon Ford be the stars of the show on offense alongside Cunningham)?
Will a star true freshman step up to the plate and fill the void?
These are questions that are going to come up time and time again as we approach the 2021 season. There should be plenty of camp battles to keep eyes on as new spots will be up for grabs across the skill positions.
The next step for Louisville fans will be to cheer Atwell and Hawkins on as they take the next step in their football careers after wearing the Louisville uniform well.