Javonte Bagley isn't supposed to be playing big five conference football. In fact, the only reason the former Bowling Green commit is in town turning heads during the opening days of Louisville's fall camp is because new U of L assistant Terrell Buckley had recruited him during his previous stint at Akron.
Buckley was one of the few major assists in America who believed in Bagley, a two-star recruit with precisely zero offers from any other program that could possibly be referred to as anything resembling "big time." It's not difficult to understand why. Bagley didn't do the "camp circuit" during his high school offseasons, and his statistics -- 30 catches for 449 yards and six touchdowns in 11 games as a senior -- didn't exactly jump off the page.
And yet here Bagley is, not only suiting up for the ACC's Louisville Cardinals, but becoming one of the biggest early stories of the 2014 season in the process.
Bobby Petrino kicked off the "Bagley hype" by singling the freshman out during last month's ACC Kickoff as a member of the 2014 recruiting class that the entire staff was excited about. The hype has only grown since then, as teammates, fans and media members have all pointed to No. 88 as one of the standouts of the first two days of practice.
"He reminds me a lot of a young Harry Douglas," Petrino said of Bagley after Tuesday's practice. "His lower body is not as strong as it needs to be yet, but he's going to be fun to watch in the future because he's going to be really good."
Since arriving at Louisville, Bagley has quickly formed a solid relationship with true freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon. The bond between the two is evident both when they're participating in drills and when they're on the sidelines.
"That's my partner," Bonnafon said of Bagley on Tuesday. "He's one of the main guys we have out there and he did a good job today."
Bagley confirmed that the pair have become tight in the small amount of time they've known one another.
"We just clicked as soon as we got here together," he said. "He's been like my brother ever since."
Petrino's never been one to keep a true freshman off the field if he believes that player can help the team, but with a talented wide receiving corps already loaded with veterans, it'll be interesting to see whether Bagley can do enough during camp to prove he needs to be out there from day one. Regardless, it sounds as though one of the most unheralded members of the 2014 recruiting class has a chance to become one of the most talked about Cardinals over the next few years. That's something not many people could have predicted back in February.
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