GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Louisville defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin could be one of the most dominant, and most fascinating, players in the ACC this year. In the new edition of the Cardinals defense, led by former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Granthan, the 6-foot-4, 244-pound defensive end will have an opportunity to be one of the most feared pass rushers in the league.
You can't miss Mauldin here in Greensboro. He towers over many of the player representatives with his dreadlocked hair now dyed red at the tips.
"If you see red hair flying around on the football field, you know it's me," Mauldin jokes.
Louisville's first trip to ACC Media Day will quickly turn into a focus on head coach Bobby Petrino when the coaches speak to reporters on Monday, but before that happens you should probably get to know Lorenzo Mauldin.
Mauldin spent much of his childhood in foster homes -- a topic he discussed extensively with Jim Rome on The Jim Rome Show last September -- and recovered from a scary scooter accident has him swearing off mopeds (it sounds like he's still up for skateboarding, though). He stays active in the community, reading to kids at local schools and recently visiting a lung cancer patient in the ICU on their birthday. While making the rounds on Sunday, Mauldin revealed that his celebrity crush is Louisville's own Jennifer Lawrence.
After last season he was graded as a 3-4 round talent, but after spending the off-season working on his pass defense and dropping into coverage he could become that hybrid defensive player that has become so coveted at the next level. Mauldin's 9½ sacks ranked in the Top 20 nationally last season, but there is even more room to improve on that number when you consider he was playing opposite Marcus Smith (14½ sacks in 2013).
Mauldin served as the team's spokesman for the day when it comes to quarterback Will Gardner. The redshirt sophomore is inheriting an elite group of wide receivers and gets a pass-happy offense with Petrino at the helm. Mauldin had no worries regarding Gardner's ability to take over the starting job after Teddy Bridgewater's departure.
"He has big shoes to fill, but he can sling that ball," Mauldin said of Gardner on Sunday.
When Louisville opens the 2014 season on Labor Day night against Miami, the entire nation will be watching the Cardinals' ACC debut. Just don't forget to look for those red dreads flying around on the football field.