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Louisville football roster breakdown: How Jeff Brohm's Cardinals look at each position

Fans will get their first look at Jeff Brohm's 2023 Louisville football team in three weeks.

Brohm and the Cardinals are wrapping up their second week of spring practice before holding their annual spring game on April 21.

U of L is using the spring to learn Brohm's system and replace 14 starters before its season opener against Georgia Tech on Sept. 1. The Cardinals have some star power on their roster, including defensive line breakout candidate Ashton Gillotte and transfer receiver Kevin Coleman. Transfer quarterback Jack Plummer has also impressed in his reunion with Brohm.

But there is still work to be done before games count. With that in mind, here’s an early look at some of Louisville’s roster:

Louisville offense

U of L QB Jack Plummer (13) passes during practice at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky. on Mar. 21, 2023.
U of L QB Jack Plummer (13) passes during practice at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky. on Mar. 21, 2023.

Quarterbacks

Returning: Brock Domann, Khalib Johnson, Nathan McElroy, Evan Conley, Sam Young, Sam Vaulton

Newcomers: Jack Plummer (Cal transfer), Pierce Clarkson (midyear enrollee, probable for spring)

Outlook: Louisville will have a new starting quarterback for the first time in four years with Malik Cunningham gone. Plummer, who played at Purdue for three years under Brohm, provides stability for U of L's offense. He’s likely to be the Cardinals’ starter with Brock Domann, who led the Cardinals to a Fenway Bowl win, the backup once again. Pierce Clarkson has garnered a lot of attention as a four-star recruit, but he’ll need time to develop behind the more experienced signal callers and is recovering from a broken toe.

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Running backs

Louisville’s Jawhar Jordan leaps Kentucky’s Jordan Lovett to get more yards on Nov. 26, 2022.
Louisville’s Jawhar Jordan leaps Kentucky’s Jordan Lovett to get more yards on Nov. 26, 2022.

Returning: Jawhar Jordan, Maurice Turner, Grant Goodman, Mario Agyen

Newcomers: Isaac Guerendo (Wisconsin transfer)

Outlook: Jawhar Jordan took over as the starter when Tiyon Evans was injured last season and looks likely to win the job in the fall. Jordan, who led the Cardinals in 2022 with 815 yards and four touchdowns on 142 carries, believes he’s the fastest player on the team and new running backs coach Chris Barclay lauded Jordan’s “God-given speed" before spring practice began. Just watch Jordan's 98-yard kickoff return against N.C. State on Nov. 19. But the Cardinals only have three backs with experience and can't afford many injuries. Maurice Turner (65 carries, 314 yards in 2023) played in the final four games of the season and provides burst as well. Isaac Guerendo, who will see playing time, adds veteran leadership and a bit more size after a four-year career at Wisconsin.

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Wide receivers

Dec 17, 2022; Boston, MA, USA; Louisville Cardinals wide receiver Ahmari Huggins-Bruce (9) runs the ball against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the first half at Fenway Park.
Dec 17, 2022; Boston, MA, USA; Louisville Cardinals wide receiver Ahmari Huggins-Bruce (9) runs the ball against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the first half at Fenway Park.

Returning: Ahmari Huggins-Bruce, Chris Bell (out for spring), Jatavian Churchill, Austin Holland, Christian Henry, Gerald Hanson, Chance Morrow, Elijah Downing,

Newcomers: Jamari Thrash (Georgia State tranfer), Kevin Coleman (Jackson State transfer), Jimmy Calloway (Tennessee transfer), Jadon Thompson (Cincinnati transfer, probable for spring), Cataurus Hicks (midyear enrollee), William Fowles (midyear enrollee)

Outlook: U of L's wide receiver corps provides plenty of intrigue after the Cardinals lost key contributors Tyler Hudson, Dee Wiggins and Braden Smith. Ahmari Huggins-Bruce is the most experienced returning player with 809 receiving yards (13.5 yards per reception) and six TD catches in his two seasons. The Cardinals came out well in the transfer portal, though, adding potential starters in Kevin Coleman, the SWAC Freshman of the Year, from Jackson State, and Jamari Thrash, an All-Sun Belt Conference first-team pick from Georgia State. Chris Bell saw the field sparingly as a freshman but had bright spots, including a 29-yard reception over a Pitt defender on Oct. 22.

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Tight ends

Lousiville's Francis Sherman, #44, celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against Wake Forest in the third quarter. Dec. 11, 2020
Lousiville's Francis Sherman, #44, celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against Wake Forest in the third quarter. Dec. 11, 2020

Returning: Francis Sherman, Dez Melton, Josh Lifson, Duane Martin, Nate Kurisky, Gage Reale

Newcomer: Jamari Johnson

Outlook: With Marshon Ford gone, there is a sizable playmaking hole on offense. Francis Sherman, Josh Lifson and Dez Melton are vying for the starting job but have a combined 11 career catches between them. The Cardinals also have a young, promising talent in Jamari Johnson, who's a big body with natural receiving abilities but will need time to adjust to the collegiate level. Tight end Payne Durham was Purdue's second-leading receiver last season with 560 yards on 56 catches under Brohm, making this a position to keep an eye on this fall.

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Offensive linemen

Returning: Bryan Hudson, Renato Brown, Michael Gonzalez, Izaiah Reed, Emmanual Sowders, Austin Collins, Sam Secrest, Joshua Black, Aaron Gunn, Travis Taylor, Makhete Gueye (out for spring)

Newcomers: John Paul Flores (Virginia transfer), Madden Sanker (midyear enrollee), Luke Burgess (midyear enrollee)

Outlook: Despite losing Caleb Chandler, Luke Kandra, Adonis Boone and Trevor Reid, Louisville's offensive line is in decent shape. There will be some continuity at center (Bryan Hudson) and right tackle (Renato Brown) as the Cardinals learn a new offense. Michael Gonzalez offers versatility, making four starts — two at left tackle and two at right guard — while Josh Black has experience playing in the interior. Both will will have opportunities to earn starting jobs. Virginia transfer John Paul Flores played left tackle for the Cavaliers but has gotten reps at left guard this spring. Offensive tackles and true freshmen Madden Sanker and Luke Burgess could also see early playing time. Sanker and Burgess are four- and three-star recruits, respectively, that ranked among the top 35 linemen in the Class of 2022.

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Louisville defense

Cincinnati's Evan Prater fumbles as he is tackled by Louisville's Ashton Gillotte during the first quarter of the Fenway Bowl NCAA college football game at Fenway Park Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Cincinnati's Evan Prater fumbles as he is tackled by Louisville's Ashton Gillotte during the first quarter of the Fenway Bowl NCAA college football game at Fenway Park Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Defensive linemen

Returning: Ashton Gillotte, Dezmond Tell, Jermayne Lole, Kam Wilson, Popeye Williams, Selah Brown, Tawfiq Thomas, Jared Dawson, Mason Reiger (out for spring), Ryheem Craig, Ramon Puryear, R.J. Sorensen, Victoine Brown, Yirayah LaNier (out for spring)

Newcomers: Stephen Herron (Stanford transfer), Rodney McGraw (Penn State transfer), Adonijah “AJ” Green (midyear enrollee)

Outlook: Ashton Gillotte (23 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six sacks and two fumble recoveries last season) is in line for a breakout year after learning under standout YaYa Diaby the last two seasons. Pair Gillotte with Dezmond Tell (27 tackles, 5 1/2 for loss and three sacks), and the Cardinals should have no problem replicating at least some of their lost pass rush after key departures in the front seven during the offseason. Can Jermayne Lole, the Arizona State transfer who has missed most of the 2021 and 2022 seasons with a triceps injury, finally get back on the field and anchor the Cardinals' new 4-2-5 defense? At 6-foot-3, 324 pounds, he had 24 tackles and five TFLs in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, his last full season, and was considered one of the best defensive linemen in the country by Pro Football Focus before his injury. The Cardinals also return depth up front with Jared Dawson and Ramon Puryear.

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Linebackers

Returning: K.J. Cloyd, Jaylin Alderman, Jack Reiger, Charlie Ely, Jackson Hamilton, TJ Quinn, Antonio Watts, Darrian Bell

Newcomers: Gilbert Frierson (Miami transfer), Stanquan Clark (midyear enrollee)

Outlook: Louisville lost its three starting linebackers in Momo Sanogo, Yasir Abdullah and Monty Montgomery. T.J. Quinn (18 tackles), K.J. Cloyd (15 tackles) and Jackson Hamilton (four tackles) all saw playing time in 2022, but the linebacking corps still has much to prove. Gilbert Frierson, a starter in 2020 and 2021 who played a hybrid safety/linebacker role at Miami, will be a player to watch this fall.

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Defensive backs

Returning: Josh Minkins (probable for spring), Quincy Riley (probable for spring), Jarvis Brownlee, M.J. Griffin, Ben Perry, Derrick Edwards, D’Angelo Hutchinson, Daniel Martens, Dakadrien Saunders, Jeremiah Caldwell, Shavarick Williams, Seth Pugh, Trey Franklin, Jeremy Hamilton

Newcomers: Marquis Groves-Killebrew (Arkansas transfer), Devin Neal (Baylor transfer), Frierson

Outlook: Josh Minkins (55 tackles, one sack, one interception) is a lock to start again this season at safety but has missed spring practice recovering from shoulder surgery. And Jarvis Brownlee (66 tackles, 12 pass breakups, two INTs) has one of the cornerback spots locked up. There is uncertainty beyond that. M.J. Griffin impressed as a freshman, so it'll be interesting to see how the new coaching staff views him. Quincy Riley, who had two interceptions against Wake Forest last season, Ben Perry and D'Angelo Hutchinson were also contributors for U of L in 2022. Louisville added experience in Arkansas transfer Marquis Groves-Killebrew and Devin Neal, who played in 33 games over three seasons at Baylor.

Reach Louisville football, women's basketball and baseball beat writer Alexis Cubit at acubit@gannett.com and follow her on Twitter at @Alexis_Cubit.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville football roster 2023: Jeff Brohm depth chart before season