Cards' Travis Leffew named to All-America teams

December 14, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LOUISVILLE - Being part of the nation's No. 1 offense has made for an enjoyable season for Louisville junior tackle Travis Leffew.

It's also brought him the type of recognition that he once could only dream about.

The former Boyle County standout has been named to CNN/Sports Illustrated's All-America second team and Monday also was named to the Associated Press All-America third team.

"It's a great honor to have. It's sort of a team thing because of the offense we have. In my mind, all the linemen are All-Americans," said Leffew after practice Monday. "I've had a good year, but I'm getting these honors because of the guys that play with me."

Still, Leffew has started 37 straight games and when he makes his next start against Boise State in the Liberty Bowl Dec. 31, he will tie the school record held by former quarterback Dave Ragone. He's graded out at 90 percent or higher in nine of 11 games this year.


"Doing things like that, and making All-American, are always in the back of your mind. But you keep it there and never know if you can achieve it," Leffew said. "Now the awards have to stay in the back of my mind just like talk about the NFL. I have a bowl game and entire season left before I think about anything else."

Leffew has no specific reason about why he's been so durable and has never missed a game in high school or college. His brother, Bobby, a senior defensive tackle at Louisville, has been plagued with injuries in college and even missed a season at Boyle with a broken ankle.

"I never take medicine. I think it is bad or it would already be in me if I was supposed to have it," Leffew said. "The worst injury I've ever had is a sprained ankle. I've been lucky. I have had nicks and things, but nothing to keep me from playing."

Leffew credits offensive line coach Mike Summers for preparing him and his teammates to succeed. "He's in the office at 6 in the morning and won't leave until 12 at night to make sure we know exactly what defenses are going to do," Leffew said.

Boise reminds him of Memphis

He has not watched that much film of Boise State's defense yet. However, he's seen enough to know Boise reminds him of Memphis, a team Louisville outscored 56-49. Like Memphis, Boise's defensive linemen will stand and move around in third down situations.

"They are some big guys. The one thing that sticks out is that they go non-stop," Leffew said. "They just keep going and going. They have a motor that doesn't stop."

Louisville's offense is the same way. The Cardinals are averaging 50.3 points and 536.7 yards per game, both tops in the country, thanks to the play of quarterback Stefan LeFors and a group of talented running backs. Even backup quarterback Brian Brohm has been effective when he's had a chance to play.

"Our goal was to have the No. 1 offense in the nation this year," Leffew said. "We've got the No. 1 passer in the nation and then Brohm was the nation's best high school quarterback last year. We have great running backs. We can do the bare minimum blocking and they'll get four or five yards. They make it easy for us to look good up front."

The Cardinals will face the nation's No. 2 offense in the Liberty Bowl in a game that could be as entertaining as any bowl game. Louisville enters the game ranked seventh, Boise State 10th.

"You have two top 10 teams with the two top offenses in the nation," Leffew said. "I don't understand how anyone could say this is not a big bowl game just because it is the Liberty Bowl."

Moving to the Big East

Next year the Cardinals will move to the Big East. A conference championship then likely would put Louisville in a CBS game with more prestige and a bigger layout.

Louisville might have been in a BCS game this year if it had not lost an early lead and fallen at Miami.

"Nothing has really shocked us this year because we know how quick our offense can strike," Leffew said.

Coach Bobby Petrino's future has not distracted the team, either. Last year Petrino talked to Auburn officials during the season, but stayed at Louisville. This year his name was mentioned with jobs at Florida, Notre Dame, Mississippi and others before he issued a statement saying he was not leaving Louisville.

"You don't let it bother you because he told us he was not leaving," Leffew said. "When his name came up at Florida, you had to look at him considering what was best for his family. It's just a job. But I am glad he is staying because he's a great coach and a lot of our success is due to him. He told us early he was not going anywhere and just not to pay attention to stuff if we heard he was leaving. But if I was looking for a coach, he would be the first one I would call."

Leaving for Liberty Bowl on Dec. 26

Leffew and his brother finish semester exams Wednesday. They'll be in Louisville for another week practicing before getting four days off to come home for Christmas. They'll leave for Memphis and the Liberty Bowl Dec. 26th.

Travis Leffew said his brother is also looking forward to another Liberty Bowl trip.

"He's been working hard and running well. His body is feeling good, which has not happened many times for him here. He would really like to make his last game here special," Travis Leffew said.

Travis already is thinking what he can do to make his 2005 season special, too, now that he's been named an All-American.

"Another goal will be to make first team and the biggest goal is to get on the ESPN (college football) awards show for winning the Outland Trophy (given to the nation's top offensive lineman)," Leffew said. "That's in the back of my mind, but it will definitely motivate me."

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