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August 21, 2012
Redshirt senior linebacker Daniel Brown's career at Louisville has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride.
Beginning his career during the frustrating Steve Kragthorpe era of Louisville football, Brown will begin his senior year as a main component on an AP top 25 team. Everything has changed since his freshman year, both on and off the field.
When asked how practice has changed over the course of Brown's career, he said: "The way Coach Strong runs practice is very intense and very fast. He squeezes the most out of us in practice, making the practices harder so the games come easier."
Things have even changed for Brown and the Cardinals in the three seasons Strong has been on campus. As the depth and talent has improved on the defense, the coaching staff has picked up the pace of practice even more.
"I think the coaches think that we are where we should be," Brown said. "We are moving a lot faster (installing the defense). I heard one of the coaches say that we are moving a lot faster than the last two defenses. ... I feel like we are in a good spot."
But Coach Strong's coaching philosophies have not only drastically affected the athletes on the field, but the whole aura surrounding football in the city of Louisville has changed. And the players can feel it.
"There is a lot of excitement in the city right now," Brown said. "The fans are very supportive. The energy of the whole city is behind us."
Average attendance at Louisville games has risen from 39,680 in the 2008 season to 48,538 last season.
What seems to be even more promising is the change in attitude among the student body.
"The student life is awesome. Amazing," Brown said. "You see students walking around with more and more Louisville gear on. A lot more school spirit. The environment is awesome."
Coach Strong has preached all preseason about the need for people to step up into leadership roles. Being one of only nine seniors, Brown knows he has a responsibility to step up and lead.
"I feel like I have to [lead] both on and off the field," Brown said. "I wear (it with) pride, Louisville on my chest. I definitely need to be a leader."
Life as a Cardinal football player has changed drastically for Brown over his five-year career. Finishing seventh in the Big East his rookie season, Brown and his teammates will begin this year as the preseason favorite to win a Big East championship. They hope to return to a BCS Bowl game.
No matter what, life as a Louisville football player could not be more exciting right now. And Brown can barely wait.
"I can't even wait," Brown said. "I can't wait another 13 days. But it's coming, and we are just preparing as hard as we can."