Five leaders have been chosen by their peers on the University of Louisville football team to be team captains for the 2014 season. Head coach Bobby Petrino announced the captains on Wednesday.
"Announcing who are team captains is one of the great honors I get to do as head coach," Petrino said. "I think these guys are tremendous leaders for our program and am excited that they will be the guys leading our team in our first season in the ACC."
Representing the team this year will be three juniors and a pair of seniors:
• Senior Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, from Atlanta, Ga. and Maynard Jackson High School;
• Junior defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins, from Covington, Ga. and Eastside High School;
• Junior cornerback Charles Gaines, from Miami, Fla., and Central High School;
• Junior quarterback Will Gardner, from Douglas, Ga., and Coffee High School; and
• Senior center Jake Smith, from Jacksonville, Ala., and Jacksonville High School.
Mauldin, a second team all-conference selection last season, finished last year with 40 tackles and was ranked in the top 20 nationally with 9.5 sacks.
"I was chosen to be a captain by my teammates because they believed that I can help lead them reach our goals this season. I'm truly honored to be selected," Mauldin said. "I can't to get the Rankins will be a key performer on the defensive line this season after playing in 10 games and recording 15 tackles.
""I'm excited," Rankins said. "It is an honor that your teammates think that highly of you to name you a captain. I'm going to put everything I have into this responsibility."
"This is a dream come true and I'm extremely blessed to be one of the team captains," Gaines said. "This is a great honor and I'm thrilled that my teammates believed in me."
On the offensive side, quarterback Will Gardner was selected despite playing sparingly a year ago. He played in six games, throwing for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"It means a lot to me when your teammates trust you enough to make you a captain," Gardner. "I'm glad they believe in my leadership abilities and I'm going to work hard to be a great leader for this football team."
Smith earned first team all-conference honors a year ago, leading the Cardinals to a 12-1 record and a win over Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Smith started all 13 games and enters 2014 with 38 career starts.
"Being named captain means a lot to me, personally," said Smith. "I appreciate the votes of the players. This is one of the biggest honors a player can receive in their careers and I'll be proud to lead this team into the ACC."
The five have combined for 120 games played and 71 starts, with Smith leading the way with 38 starts. He started all 38 games and was a first team all-conference honoree a year ago. Mauldin has appeared in 36 career contests and 20 starts. He was a second team all-league selection last year. Gaines, a first team All-American Athletic Conference honoree, has played in 20 games with 10 career starts.
The Cardinals named captains for the first time since the 2009 season. In Petrino's final year with the Cardinals in 2006 he named six captains in Brian Brohm, Michael Bush, Kurt Quarterman, Amobi Okoye, William Gay and Nate Harris.
The Cardinals begin their first season in the ACC on Sept. 1, when UofL hosts league-foe Miami at 8 p,m. on ESPN.