LOUISVILLE - From the first time he was able to drop back and throw a tight spiral as a youngster, Brian Brohm knew in his heart that he wanted to play quarterback for the University of Louisville.
What he didn't know was just how difficult that decision would be when it came time to make the big call on his football future.
Brohm, one of the nation's most coveted prospects, put an end to the suspense of his high-profile recruitment on Tuesday when he went public with a verbal commitment to the Cardinals. He announced his decision during a press conference at Louisville's Trinity High School, where he helped lead the Shamrocks to the last three Kentucky Class 4A state championships.
"This entire recruiting process, I've been looking for the place that would give me the perfect fit," Brohm said. "It's taken a while to decide which place would fit me perfectly I was looking for a place where I could excel in every area that I wanted to excel in, that I would feel comfortable with the student body and the players on the team.
"Football-wise, I wanted to be comfortable with the type of offense they were running and have a chance to achieve the goals that I wanted to achieve, such as conference championships and national championships. When I looked around, there were some schools that fit most of that and some that fit less than that, but the one school that was perfect for me was the University of Louisville."
Brohm's announcement was met with a thundering ovation from a large group of Trinity teammates and classmates who had packed the Convocation Hall for his press conference. It also drew a hearty "C-A-R-D-S" chant from the Louisville faithful among that bunch as the star player smiled and blushed from the emotion the scene generated.
In picking the hometown Cardinals, Brohm (6-3, 200, 4.65) passed on scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Kentucky and Tennessee - in particular - among countless others. Rumors had been swirling for weeks about which school held the upper hand, and Brohm admitted that at one point or another, they all did.
"All four were in contention until the very end," he said. "At some point in the process, the other schools would jump up and be No. 1.
"It was a much harder decision than I ever imagined it would be when this all started, but in my heart, Louisville was always No. 1 on my list."
In breaking down the other three finalists, Brohm offered the following: "I liked what Notre Dame had up there academic-wise and I feel like I fit in with their players really well, but ultimately the situation there didn't fit as well as I wanted it to.
"Tennessee had a great situation for me, but I just didn't feel like I fit in down there at all. I couldn't see myself playing for the Volunteers."
"Kentucky would have been a tough decision to make to go down there and change the family ties. And ultimately, I didn't think their style of play fit me too well."
Nebraska and new coach Bill Callahan tried to make a late entry into the Brohm Derby, but Brohm said by that point he did not want to add any schools to his already tight list.
"They were nice and we listened to what they had to say when they called, but I just didn't want to take any more visits. I was ready to get things wrapped up," Brohm said.
The final decision didn't come until this past week, according to Brohm. He said a family meeting last Thursday night yielded a unanimous decision.
"They all told me where they thought I should go, then I told them where I was definitely going," Brohm said. "We were all in agreement that it was Louisville. But it was my choice all along. They let me come to my own decision."
The family influence was strong due to its ties with the Louisville program. Both his father, Oscar, and his brother, Jeff, played quarterback for the Cardinals. Another brother, Greg, was a wide receiver at Louisville.
Jeff Brohm is currently a member of Bobby Petrino's coaching staff, where he will now guide his younger brother as quarterbacks coach.
"I've been a fan all my life, and it's going to be exciting to have my brother coaching me," Brohm said. "He might even be more excited about it than me."
Brohm said he's been promised the opportunity to play as a freshman and compete for the starting job at Louisville. He'll be challenged by Stefan LeFors, who passed for 2,811 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior in 2003, and Michael Bush, a four-star prospect from the Class of 2003 who played quarterback, running back and wide receiver as a true freshman, but wants an opportunity to be the Cards' signal caller.
Many Louisville fans and observers alike now wonder if the Cardinals will be able to keep three talented quarterbacks happy with the competitive situation. Some have questioned whether Bush - who may be projected more as a running back at this point - will remain at Louisville or seek a new college home.
Asked about the Bush situation, Brohm said: "I've not talked to Michael, but it would be an honor to play with such a big talent like him. I hope he stays."
Brohm also faced questions about the controversy which surrounded Petrino this season when news broke that Auburn officials had met with the Louisville coach and discussed the possibility of him replacing Tommy Tuberville.
"I believe that the only place that coach Petrino would ever go if he left here to is Auburn," he said. "That's not on the table anymore, so I don't think he's going anywhere. I believe he really likes the University of Louisville and will be staying here for many years to come."
Another key factor in the Brohm decision was this fall's news that Louisville will be leaving Conference USA and joining the Big East in 2005. Brohm's desire to play in a conference with a guaranteed BCS tie-in was well documented from the time his recruitment began.
His father said that may have put the Cardinals over the top in the final analysis.
"UofL moving to the Big East was a major factor," Oscar Brohm said. "I'd say that if they were still in Conference USA, it would have made it awfully difficult for Brian to go there. But moving to the Big East more or less leveled the playing field and took some of those advantages away that the other schools had."
"I think Louisville can be competitive in the Big East," Brian Brohm said. "I think the talent is there to be a top-notch program. Obviously, we need a couple of good recruiting classes to push us along in talent, but I can see us competing for a Big East title and hopefully a national title someday."
Brohm is a member of the Rivals100 Team and the No. 5 ranked pro-style quarterback in the nation. As a senior, he passed for 3,720 yards and 33 touchdowns.
In his three years as a starter, he threw for 10,579 yards, 119 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions. That run was highlighted by an eye-popping junior season which saw him toss 47 touchdowns with only one interception. He set a state record for career completion percentage (65 percent) and finished second to only former Leslie County star and future NFL No. 1 pick Tim Couch in yardage and touchdowns.