Louisville's Lorenzo Mauldin could be the next great defensive end

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It's hard not to be in awe of Lorenzo Mauldin.

The Louisville defensive end towers over teammates and opponents alike. At 6-foot-4, 244-pounds, the dread-locked terror accumulated 9.5 sacks last season.

And, as if he didn't already stand out, now the senior has dyed his braids a dark red that is impossible to miss.

"If you see red hair flying around on the football field, you know it's me," Mauldin joked at the Atlantic Coastal Conference Media Days in Greensboro, N.C.

Mauldin could become the dominant force in the ACC in the same vein as Marcus Smith, who accumulated 14.5 sacks for the Cardinals and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 26th pick of the NFL Draft.

Here are just a few reasons why Mauldin will dominate.

An offensive scheme that will ring up the tempo

It's been an offseason of change for the Cardinals, who saw head coach Charlie Strong bolt for Texas.

New head coach Bobby Petrino - yes, the same Bobby Petrino whose ill-fated motorcycle ride with his mistress ended his career at Arkansas - will lead Louisville's 2014 squad.

Petrino has burned his last three employers: he left Western Kentucky after a single year, flamed out at Arkansas and, in 2007, ditched the NFL's Atlanta Falcons after a 3-10 start to the season.

The last team Petrino backstabbed before that?

Ironically enough, it was Louisville, who gave him a 10-year, $25.6 million contract only to see him leave for the Falcons six months later.

But for all Petrino's faults off the field, he can definitely coach.

His offensive squads have been known for their frenetic pace, which often catches opposing defenses off guard. Teams will have to pass the ball in order to keep up with what is sure to be a high-scoring Cardinal attack.

That only plays into Mauldin's favor, who will be able to rack up higher sack numbers with opposing quarterbacks dropping back more than ever.

A defensive scheme set up to rush the passer

Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is only one year into establishing his system, but the early results have been promising.

Smith dominated in the "rover" role of Grantham's 3-4 scheme, which has also been filled by Georgia's Jarvis Jones (14.5 sacks in 2012) and the Cowboys' Demarcus Ware (31 sacks from 2008 to 2009).

Now Mauldin will take on that position, which is rotated along the line of scrimmage to take advantage of weak points in the offensive line. It involves standing up and taking a three-point stance at times, which will play well to Mauldin's natural athleticism.

A body made for sacks

That leads us to the final reason why Mauldin will dominate opposing lines next season: his lanky frame and formidable height.

Mauldin has all the physical tools necessary to beat opponents. He uses his active, quick hands to get around larger opponents, similar to what Jones does now for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He played last year despite having been the victim of a car-on-scooter traffic accident, in which he was hospitalized over-night after getting hit by a car.

This year, he will have a chance to play at a fully healthy level, in a system made to maximize his considerable physical talents.

Given that kind of opportunity, Mauldin will likely flourish.

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