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Louisville recruiting 2014: Stepping up to the ACC

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The good news is that Louisville's recruiting is easily on par with those at other ACC programs. Can the Cardinals compete with the best, though?

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the big(ger) leagues, Louisville.

Although the Cardinals have put together a strong, top-30 class that would have easily been the best in their old American Athletic Conference, that same class is only good for middle-of-the-pack honors in their new ACC home. Talk about a rude awakening -- according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, they trail Miami, Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech and North Carolina, respectively.

Louisville's class already has 24 commitments, so it is not likely to bring many more additions before February. The last one came in November with Lukayus McNeil, a three-star offensive tackle from Indianapolis (Ind.) Decatur Central.

Still, among those already choosing to be Cardinals, there are several noteworthy names.

The first is Reggie Bonnafon, who could be a potential Bridgewater successor down the line. Bonnafon, who hails from Louisville himself, is a top-10 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2014, and the third-ranked player in all of Kentucky, according to the 247Sports Composite.

Another would have to be 6'0, 285-pound defensive tackle Poona Ford from Hilton Head Island, S.C. A four-star on the 247Sports Composite, Ford is the highest-rated recruit in Louisville's class and a top-25 player at his position this year.

Charlie Strong has traditionally recruited Florida very well, and a look up and down this year's group of commitments reveals nothing different in that regard. Eight of Louisville's 25 pledges come from the Sunshine State, including wide receiver Isaiah Ford, safety Michael Johnson, cornerback De'Eric Culver and defensive tackle Chris Nelson, each of whom is considered among the top 120 players in Florida.

Still to come? -- Bud Elliott, National Recruiting Analyst

Louisville still has several top targets remaining. Chief amongst them is Daniel Cage, of Cincinnati (Ohio) Winton Woods. A four-star defensive tackle, the Cardinals are battling the Michigan State Spartans for his signature.

And the Cardinals are also still in contention for three-star linebacker Sharieff Rhaheed, of Fort Pierce (Fla.) Central High School.

On the other side of the ball, Louisville is also after Tampa (Fla.) Catholic running back T.J. Harrell, a three-star who could also play safety for the Cardinals.

Louisville has done an excellent job scouting players under Charlie Strong, and there is every reason to believe that will continue once the Cardinals enter the ACC.

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