Louisville is doing some nice things on the football field this season. The play of sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson has been outstanding, but the Tigers as a whole are 6-1 and that can be easy to forget when getting caught up in the hype of the likely Heisman favorite.
Louisville is 23-10 in the three seasons since Bobby Petrino has been back, and his recruiting classes have been relatively successful as well. Louisville’s 2014 class was ranked No. 45 nationally, but the Cardinals saw a big spike in 2015, jumping up to the No. 32 class in America. Petrino’s 2015 class featured players such as four-star defenders Devonte Fields and Dee Smith, three-star wide receiver Devante Peete and, of course, Jackson, who was a three-star dual-threat quarterback.
The Cardinals went 8-5 in 2015 with a win in the Music City Bowl, and then responded with a 2016 recruiting class that was ranked No. 38 nationally and No. 7 in the ACC.
So it’s been good, not great, so far for Petrino and the Cardinals, though it’s worth noting that the 2017 class has the makings of potentially Louisville’s best yet in the most recent Petrino era.
Louisville’s current 2017 class is ranked No. 28 nationally and No. 6 in the very competitive ACC recruiting rankings. Four-star running back Colin Wilson is Louisville’s top-rated recruit from the class, but the Cardinals just landed a player who could end up being one of the program’s most important commitments: three-star cornerback Russ Yeast.
The big thing when mentioning Yeast’s commitment to Louisville is the in-state factor. Notably, Yeast committed to Louisville over Kentucky, and that’s a big deal for more reasons than just the rivalry between the two schools.
Yeast’s father, Craig Yeast, is a former Kentucky Wildcats’ receiver. Craig played for Kentucky from 1995-1998 and he finished his Wildcat career with 208 receptions for 2,899 yards and 28 touchdowns. He was also a stellar special teams player for Kentucky, taking three kick returns back for touchdowns (notching 1,045 return yards in the process) and returning one punt to the house for six. Yeast was drafted in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL Draft (98th overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals. He played three seasons in the league, including one with the New York Jets, catching only 27 passes for 321 yards and no touchdowns.
The fact that his son, a big-time recruit, spurned the school where he made his name is extremely newsworthy. It’s a huge recruiting loss for Kentucky — the losses just keep piling up for Mark Stoops and co. — and it’s a massive recruiting win for Petrino and the Cardinals. Keep in mind, Yeast was actually committed to the Wildcats at one point, but he decommitted this past summer. Overall, he was committed to Kentucky for just under a year.
There’s no doubting which football team owns the state of Kentucky, and it’s recruiting wins like this that can help keep Louisville competitive on a national level. Auburn and Iowa were also two major players for Yeast’s commitment, and though beating Iowa may not seem like a huge deal (though it is, because the Hawkeyes are recruiting much better as of late) beating out a big-time SEC program in Auburn is a big deal. Yeast also considered Alabama and Ole Miss, according to Mike Hughes of 247Sports, recruiting foes that continue to make this win for Louisville all the more impressive. All in all, Yeast committed to the Cardinals over 18 other offers. Cincinnati, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska and Ole Miss were among the other schools that offered.
So why exactly did Yeast commit to Louisville? Ironically, his father had the answers, according to Hughes.
“I think he likes that there’s a lot of excitement with Louisville football,” Craig Yeast said. “I think he really likes the coaching staff and they’ve recruited him very hard. They made it very clear he’s one of their top priorities. They’re in the ACC so there’s an opportunity to play against outstanding competition. Those things were (important).”
The rankings are the last thing to consider when evaluating how big of a commitment Yeast is for Louisville. According to the industry generated 247Sports Composite, he’s the No. 40 cornerback in the nation as well as the No. 4 player from the state of Indiana, a state that can be a bit underrated at times as far as the level of talent that it produces on the recruiting trail.
Yeast is 5-foot-11, 185 pounds and he does project to play corner for the Cardinals.