LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- When Louisville was courting then-Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm trying to convince him to return home and replace the fired Bobby Petrino, Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Mark Story wrote a piece that was published under the headline: "Brohm at U of L would be bad news for UK."
That assessment was targeted not only to future results in the Governor's Cup, but also the in-state recruiting wars. Brohm turned down U of L's overtures then, but now we'll see just how much Brohm's hiring in the wake of Scott Satterfield's move to Cincinnati affects both areas.
Fans will have to wait until Nov. 25 in L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium to see how Brohm's first matchup against UK coach Mark Stoops in the Governor's Cup goes, but the early results are already in on the other subject.
One of the biggest complaints about Petrino, and to a somewhat lesser extent Satterfield, was their lack of interest when it came to recruiting some of the best prospects in the city of Louisville and the state of Kentucky. Brohm said during his introductory press conference that he wants to reverse that trend.
"Without question that’s always important to me," he said. "I think there has been a lot of great football teams here at the University of Louisville that were built around a lot of great in-state players and players from this city. I have a relationship with a lot of the coaches throughout the state, probably a lot of the coaches that are coming (with him as assistants) will as well."
During Petrino 2.0's four seasons, Louisville signed only six in-state prospect, all but one from the Metro area. Satterfield signed just four, all from Jefferson County. During much of Stoops' tenure, the Wildcats have dominated in-state recruiting. Given Brohm's success in the state in his previous two head coaching jobs, that is likely to change.
Brohm pointed out that during his time at Western Kentucky (2014-2016) and Purdue (2017-2022), he recruited a number of players from Louisville and the state. Among the Hilltoppers were standout running back Anthony "Ace Wales from Louisville Central and star wide receiver Taywan Taylor from Pleasure Ridge Park. At Purdue, he signed about a dozen players from four Kentucky counties, as well as Louisville, most notably Trinity wide receiver Rondale Moore, who was the first true freshman in Big Ten history to earn consensus All-American honors and is currently with the Arizona Cardinals.
Another factor that should boost UofL's success with local products and in-state prospects is the fact that about half of Brohm's coaching staff have ties to the Cardinals -- and therefore the city and state -- as either former coaches or players, including brother Brian Brohm, the offensive coordinator.
Brohm's 27-member 2023 recruiting class includes just one in-state high school player -- defensive lineman Micah Carter from St. X -- but he pulled off a major coup Wednesday night when four-star lineman William "Woo" Spencer (6-5, 315) signed with UofL over Kentucky and Michigan State. Although Spencer played for New Albany (Ind.) High the last two seasons, he is a Louisville native and a former Male High lineman and was thought to be leaning toward UK.
Spencer said he didn't make up his mind until the day of his announcement. He said he chose the Cards after discussions with his family, Chris Vaughn, owner of Aspiration Fitness and a former wide receiver at U of L for one season (2016).
"My mom, my trainer (Vaughn), we had a talk," Spencer said at his signing ceremony. "We all thought that Louisville was the best spot for me, where I would be most successful at. I'm excited and ready to give Coach Brohm everything I've got."
Vaughn called the choice of Louisville over UK "super close" and added that landing Spencer was "a big win for Louisville." Vaughn said Spencer can play on either the offensive or defensive lines and will make an immediate impact.
"Louisville offered him the opportunity to do both, but wanted to start him out on the d-line," Vaughn told Michael McCammon of 247Sports. "He should have no problem going in there and getting into the two-deep right away and contributing as a true freshman."
New Albany coach Steve Cooley agreed with Vaughn's prediction.
"Woo's talented enough that he could play on both sides of the ball at a very, very high level," Cooley said. "It will be interesting to see what they do with him down the road. He's a kid that can come in and make an impact. He's an unbelievable talent and also very humble. I'm excited to see him play at the next level."
While Spencer and Carter were the only two players with in-state ties UofL signed out of high school, the Cards also got former Lexington Douglass High defensive back Devin Neal, who played at Baylor before entering the transfer portal.
The Brohm/Stoops recruiting battle is just getting warmed up. It's likely to get much hotter as time goes on.