Three years ago, the Cardinals struck recruiting gold landing three prospects - Darius Ashley, Greg Sruggs and Stephon Ball - from Ohio state champion Cincinnati St. Xavier. Last year, Charlie Strong made an immediate recruiting impact in Cincinnati, landing linebackers Preston Brown (Northwest) and Tyon Dixon (Colerain) and quarterback Dominique Brown (Winton Woods).
That success could help the Cardinals land even more talent from the Queen City this year, including three-star Colerain corner Chris Dukes, who told InsideTheVille.com Monday that Louisville is the leader for his services.
A former high school teammate of UofL freshman Tyon Dixon, and a friend of freshman linebacker Preston Brown, Dukes landed a scholarship offer from Charlie Strong's coaching staff this spring. Dukes also played in a 7 on 7 National Passing tournament over the weekend with Louisville quarterback commit DaMarcus Smith and spoke with him about playing together in college.
"What stands out about Louisville, actually the quarterback [DaMarcus Smith] on our [7-7] team for the tournament is committed to Louisville and we had a pretty nice talk about the Louisville thing," Dukes said. "We were talking about the DB situation over the weekend and I think Louisville is pretty high on my list now. And two teammates of mine from last year attend Louisville and we always talk about it."
Dukes said he maintains frequent contact with Louisville assistants Mike Sanford, who recruits the Cincinnati area for the Cards, and Ron Dugans,Louisville's wide receiver coach.
"I talk to Coach Sanford and Coach Dugans," Dukes said. "I try to give Coach Dugans a call every week. He's a real nice guy, laid back and I can pretty much talk to him about anything. I give him a call and we always have great conversations."
Dukes recently visited UofL while his passing league team practiced in Louisville for a tournament last weekend. He received the lowdown on Charlie Strong's program from Brown and Dixon while in town.
"I went to school with Tyon and me, Preston Brown and Tyon all played little league football together," Dukes said. "Two weeks ago we had a practice down at Louisville for the 7 on 7 and I got a chance to speak to those guys while I was down there. Preston and Tyon keep trying to instill in my head that Louisville is the place to come if I want to play early."
Dukes' relationship with Dixon and Brown could help the Cardinals land the No. 90 cornerback in the nation.
"My whole thing making my decision is a family-thing," said Dukes. "Those guys I've known my whole life and they're kind of like a family to me. I know if I go there it will be a family environment to have my friends there."
While in town, Dukes spoke with both of his recruiters and met Charlie Strong for the first time. Strong told him there's a chance to play early in the secondary for the Cardinals.
"I met with Coach Sanford and Dugans and I spoke with Coach Strong," Dukes said. "Coach Strong said they're really high on me and I'm their No. 1 DB [recruit] and they would love for me to come down so I could get a chance to play for them as a freshman."
Dukes came away from the experience highly impressed with Louisville.
"The thing that I was most impressed with was the weight room," Dukes said. "There is a lot of space for a lot of guys to get in there and get their work done. I also liked the stadium expansion."
While Louisville occupies the top spot on Dukes' list, Colorado is nipping at the Cardinals heels.
"Colorado is a leader because of playing time, it's just like at Louisville, I can play as a freshman," Dukes said. "They'll play a big part in my decision."
Dukes likes the academic prestige that Boston College provides.
"If I think about it from the aspect if I don't make it to the NFL having a degree from Boston College would make a good statement," Dukes said.
Pittsburgh, the first school to offer Dukes, also makes the list.
"I like the Darrelle Revis thing about Pittsburgh, they put out good cornerbacks," Dukes said. "They were my first offer and I have to stick with them because of that."
With the recruiting process about to heat up, Dukes is lining up some fall visits.
"I'm thinking about official visits," said Dukes. "I haven't called and planned them but I know I'm going to take one for sure to Boston College when they play Notre Dame. I also plan to go to Louisville for their first game against UK."
"I plan to take my visits first and make my decision after I make my visits," added Dukes.