Eugene Sowell shows promise on defense

Eugene Sowell

Louisville's Eugene Sowell has made the most of his move from offense to defense this spring. Sowell made the switch to linebacker during practice for the Orange Bowl last December, and judging from his performance this spring, it seems that former Louisville coach Bobby Petrino made a wise decision moving the 6-0, 230 pound Sowell to defense.

Louisville's Eugene Sowell has made the most of his move from offense to defense this spring.

Sowell came to U of L last year as a highly-rated running back, but made the switch to linebacker during practice for the Orange Bowl last December. Judging from his performance this spring, it seems that former Louisville coach Bobby Petrino made a wise decision moving the 6-0, 230 pound Sowell to defense.

"I guess Coach Petrino wanted to make that change and he thought it might be good for me," said Sowell, who is currently running with the second team defense. "And (Coach Kragthorpe) left me there and I've been doing alright since then."

Sowell said the transition from running back to linebacker hasn't been a difficult one for him to make, primarily because he also was a standout linebacker at Shades Valley High School in Irondale, Alabama.

"I played linebacker during high school so it's not really a big transition, but it's a little bit of a transition because running back is mostly avoiding people and (at) linebacker you hit them," Sowell said. "And I don't mind hitting at all."

Sowell said the transition from Petrino to Steve Kragthorpe also hasn't been difficult because defensive coordinator Mike Cassity has kept things pretty much the same as last season and linebackers coach Reggie Johnson remained on staff after Petrino's departure to Atlanta.

"It hasn't been too difficult because I still have the same linebacker coach, Coach Johnson," said Sowell. "So everything with him has pretty much been the same – play hard, learn what you've got to do and keep going to the ball.

"It's pretty much the same package we had in when I started to go into the bowl practices. Everything is pretty much the same. That's why our defense has been progressing and keeps going the right way."

With linebackers Malik Jackson, Lamar Myles and Preston Smith established with the first team defense, Sowell has plenty of talented teammates to learn from and compete with. With JUCO All-American Willie Williams arriving later this summer, the competition for playing time at linebacker figures to get even more competitive.


Sowell has shown great promise
this spring.

"I pretty much just watch and learn and play hard," Sowell said. "They make plays, so I need to make plays to keep up with the competition. As long as I do that I'll be alright."

Sowell said the intense competition at linebacker keeps everyone focused and working hard.

"It does a lot. It definitely makes you work harder," said Sowell. "It makes you look at what you need to do and watch and learn. All three of our linebackers are good so I guess I can learn a little bit from each of them. Playing with Malik, Lamar and Preston, all of them are great so watching them is pretty good."

Now that he's getting more comfortable on defense, Sowell looks to continue improving throughout the rest of spring drills.

"I want to improve on just knowing what I have to do and going and just playing fast," said Sowell. "I'm learning my plays and going full speed."

Kragthorpe has also been impressed with Sowell's play this spring and hopes the redshirt freshman can continue making progress and provide valuable depth next season.

"Eugene is having a good spring for us," Kragthorpe said. "I think he's doing a nice job. He's continuing to progress. I think you see him daily continue to make strides in terms of reacting instead of thinking through all the situations.

"I think he's a guy that needs to (play) and I look for him to step in and provide us some real quality depth. We loose some linebackers after next season so we're not only trying to pad our depth for next year, but we're also looking to the future."

Sowell had a good first scrimmage last week and hopes to play even better this Saturday in Louisville's second scrimmage of spring practice.

"I hope to play good and get better every day," Sowell said. "It looks like I've been getting pretty good in practice so during the scrimmage I hope to get better and make big plays."

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