(Note: this is the second in an occasional series looking at former stars at Big East schools and where they are now. To suggest a player for a future story, e-mail me at this link.)
Stefan LeFors will always love Louisville for giving him a chance to compete at the major college level. So when LeFors decided to call it quits in his professional playing career, it only seemed natural for him to return to the school.
The 2004 Conference USA player of the year began working as an academic specialist in the Cardinals' athletic department on June 1. He'll tutor football players and other athletes, as well as helping to coordinate their schedules and monitor their academic progress. LeFors, whose parents are both deaf, will also teach sign language to interested students.
"Being around the game and being around the athletes appealed to me," he said. "This is where they gave me a shot coming out of high school, and I'll be eternally grateful for that."
Louisville was the only FBS program to offer LeFors a scholarship, and the 6-foot quarterback made that look like a wise decision. He became the starter in 2003 and led the team to a 9-4 record. In 2004, the Cardinals went 11-1 and won the Liberty Bowl as LeFors completed 73.5 percent of his passes, the second highest total in NCAA history. His ability to both throw and run -- and seemingly always make the right decision -- powered Bobby Petrino's high-flying offense.
LeFors was drafted in the fourth round by the Carolina Panthers and spent one year there as a backup. He was then released and headed to the Canadian Football League. He played two years with Edmonton, starting the final five games of the 2007 season, and won the starting job last season at Winnipeg before injuring his shoulder in the third game.
LeFors enjoyed the CFL, though the climate certainly forced an adjustment for a kid from Louisiana.
"It was nice, though, because in fall camp and two-a-days you're always worried about the heat and the blistering humidity," he said. "All three of my years up there, I was always in a sweatshirt and long pants in camp, trying to stay warm."
After helping Louisville reach some of the program's highest achievements, LeFors winced as his alma mater struggled the past three years, failing to reach a bowl game under Steve Kragthorpe.
"We'd be in the locker room hanging out, and a lot of guys would be talking about their schools," he said. "Every time I'd throw out Louisville, they'd think of the current team and be like, 'Ah, yeah, you guys are nothing.' I'd try to tell them, 'No, look at what we did in 2004, 2005, 2006.'
"So that part was really disappointing. But hopefully we'll get this thing back on track and turn this thing around."
LeFors will now be part of the athletic department as the Cardinals try to rebuild under new coach Charlie Strong. He may pursue some media opportunities and might even one day enter coaching himself.
"I'm just getting my foot in the door to see what I like," LeFors said. "Being an athletic director would be a dream, and coaching would be fun as well. I always enjoyed the chess match part of the game. But right now, my eyes are open to everything."