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Louisville hopes Reggie Bonnafon becomes mainstay at receiver

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino on the versatile Reggie Bonnafon: "We’ve got to get him touches, because he’s a great athlete." Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

Reggie Bonnafon has been Mr. Everything for the Louisville offense since he arrived on campus.

But now it is time for him to be just one thing. That would be receiver, the position coach Bobby Petrino believes he can be most effective. So during the final two weeks of spring practice, Petrino had Bonnafon working exclusively with the receivers, perhaps the deepest position on the team.

"We’ve got to get him to one position where he can become an expert at what he does at that position," Petrino said during ACC spring meetings. "We can still always hand him the ball off. We’ve got to get him touches, because he’s a great athlete. He’s one of the best athletes on our team."

The ridiculous vertical jump Bonnafon posted during offseason workouts proved that. When spring practice began, one of the biggest priorities on offense became finding a home for Bonnafon headed into his junior season. In two years, Bonnafon has been shifted all over the place: starting as a true freshman at quarterback, then transitioning to running back and receiver in 2015 after Lamar Jackson's emergence at quarterback. Bonnafon finished the season with 175 yards rushing and 105 yards receiving, but has the potential to do so much more.

Bonnafon is no stranger to receiver. That’s the position he played in high school his sophomore and junior seasons, before starting as a quarterback his senior year. Despite that inexperience, Bonnafon was rated one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. Louisville recruited him as a quarterback, and he started five games in 2014. During his time playing quarterback, his athleticism became obvious -- he finished with five rushing touchdowns, tied for the third-most in school history for a quarterback.

When last season opened, Bonnafon was behind center against Auburn. But on the opening play, he went in in motion and Jackson took the direct snap. The two split time at quarterback during the game, but it became obvious Jackson would be the quarterback of the future. Bonnafon started again -- at running back. But now he is at receiver, joining talented returners Jamari Staples, James Quick, Jaylen Smith, Traveon Samuel and Ja'Quay Savage.

"Reggie’s one of the greatest kids in the world to coach," Petrino said. "He’s just worried about the team and seeing how he can help it. He worked hard every day in practice. For him, it was a matter of -- he didn’t have a lot of experience playing the position, so he was working hard to learn everything. This really gives him a chance to use his natural ability."