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5 Louisville Football Players With The Biggest Shoes To Fill In 2014

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5 Louisville Football Players With The Biggest Shoes To Fill In 2014

Bobby Petrino Louisville Cardinals football
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The Louisville Cardinals enter their first season in the ACC without a number of last season's stars, including quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Cards will most likely be one of the top teams in the Atlantic Division anyway, thanks to the talent left behind by former coach Charlie Strong. Here are five guys who should step up and help the Cards compete with the ACC's best in 2014.

5. Nick Dawson-Brents

Nick Dawson-Brents Louisville Cardinals football
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Nick Dawson-Brents

Nick Dawson-Brents Louisville Cardinals football

When Bobby Petrino came back to Louisville, he brought former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham with him. The Cardinals lost a lot of talent from the front-seven after last season, particularly at linebacker. Grantham will need multiple linebackers to step up this year, and Nick Dawson-Brents is one of the top candidates.

4. Sheldon Rankins

Sheldon Rankins Louisville Cardinals football
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4. Sheldon Rankins

Sheldon Rankins Louisville Cardinals football

The word Grantham used to describe Sheldon Rankins' spring was "dominant." In the 3-4 system, Rankins might play multiple positions along the defensive line. His versatility should be very helpful for Louisville, as they are essentially starting over with an entirely new line this year, after losing three of last year's starters, including first round draft pick Marcus Smith.

3. Keith Brown

Keith Brown Louisville Cardinals football
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3. Keith Brown

Keith Brown Louisville Cardinals football

Keith Brown looks like another ideal candidate to step into one of the starting linebacker jobs this season. Brown missed most of the 2013 season with an injury, after a freshman season in which he was named a freshman all-American by FoxSports.net. That season, he started five games and recorded double-digit tackles in multiple games. If he can stay healthy, he could do a lot to ease the loss of third-round draft pick Preston Brown.

2. Jermaine Reve

Jermaine Reve Louisville Cardinals football
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

2. Jermaine Reve

Jermaine Reve Louisville Cardinals football

Jermaine Reve suffered a knee injury in spring practice, and it is unclear when he will be available. The Cardinals have to be hoping for a quick recovery though, because they are somewhat desperate at safety. Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor are both gone and, aside from Reve, there is very little experience left over at either safety position. If Reve can't go, Petrino mat look to transfer James Sample or freshman Michael Johnson.

1. Will Gardner

Will Gardner Louisville Cardinals football
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

1. Will Gardner

Will Gardner Louisville Cardinals football

Even with all of the talent Louisville lost on defense, the player who left the biggest shoes to fill was Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater was one of the best quarterbacks in the country the last two years, before being drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings. Will Gardner will take over at quarterback in 2014, and he looks poised for a great season. In Louisville's spring game, he went 32-of-37 for 542 yards and four touchdowns.