UL focuses on filling 'critical needs' in recruiting class
The UL football team picked up its 15th and 16th known commits over the weekend, getting non-binding verbal pledges from Trey Amos of Catholic High in nearby New Iberia and from Caleb Anderson of East Feliciana High.
Amos played quarterback last season for Catholic High, but was recruited by the Cajuns at his 2017-season position on a state-championship team, cornerback.
The 2019 Class 2A state long-jump champ, he also had offers from Louisiana Tech, South Alabama, Arkansas State, UL Monroe, Northwestern State, Nicholls and Southern.
Anderson also had Power 5 offers from Virginia and Utah, plus other offers from Tulane, Louisiana Tech, Navy, Air Force, Army, Arkansas State, UL Monroe, South Alabama, Southern Mississippi, Northwestern State, Nicholls, Lamar and Southern.
He visited Virginia in mid-June and UL in late June.
UL football recruiting:Get to know the Cajuns' commits
It was not immediately clear what position the Ragin' Cajuns recruited Anderson at, but the dual-threat quarterback also can play defensive back and receiver.
And now, as they go about assembling the rest of their Class of 2020 recruiting group before the NCAA’s early signing period opens in December, the Cajuns are being rather selective.
In fact, UL – head coach Billy Napier indicated shortly after preseason camp opened earlier this month – may not sign a full class of 25 scholarship players.
That’s perhaps in part because the Cajuns had some carryover blueshirt signees from their Class of 2019 whose scholarships will count against the 2020 class, limiting the number they can sign now, and perhaps in part as well because some current walks-ons will go on scholarship after this season.
“It will be a little smaller group than maybe we had last year,” Napier said.
“But I do think it’s important that we fill critical needs," he added without being any more specific. "I think that’s a big part of what we’re doing right now, is we’re evaluating the roster that we do have.”
Before signing UL’s previous class last December, Napier indicated his intentions were to recruit from the Acadiana area out, extending from there throughout Louisiana, including the New Orleans area, west into Texas and east to Mississippi and Alabama.
“We’re gonna try to recruit all the players that fit what brand of football we want to play,” he said then, “and players that pass our evaluation.
“That’s one of the best things about this job, in my opinion – is there’s lot of good football players within a car’s drive from here.”
On National Signing Day back in February, when UL’s class including the December signees were introduced, Napier reiterated the point.
“We evaluated every recruit in this state that had an opportunity to play in the next level,” Napier said then.
There really is something to be said, Napier suggested at the time, about the importance of building first around the best Acadiana-area products the Cajuns can lure, and then adding as many quality recruits with Louisiana ties as possible.
“This is what we want to do,” he said.
“You can say what you want to say, but when we line up here and play, if they’re from nearby here, if they’re from this state, they’re gonna put on that all-red and play harder than maybe some other guy.
“They’ve got to go home at Christmas,” Napier added, “and if we ain’t playing good they’ve got to deal with that in their community, just like I’ve got to do when I go the grocery store.”
Goal for UL's Greenhouse:'I want to impact the defense'
There’s another factor too, as recruiting ultimately impacts attendance at a stadium – Cajun Field – often far from full in the fall.
“There’s gonna be more people that … show up and watch a group play that you can get in the car and drive to their high school from here in a couple hours,” the Cajuns coach said. “So, that’s the plan.”
Napier felt that plan was executed well after his first full cycle of recruiting as head coach at UL.
Now, a similar plan is unfolding again.
One of UL’s current known commits, Parklane Academy offensive lineman Jack McKenzie, is from Mississippi, and one, Hillcrest High athlete Andray Pope, is from Alabama.
Five are from talent-rich Texas: cornerback Dabari Hawkins, running back Emani Bailey, cornerback Courtline Flowers, defensive lineman Dominque Ratcliff and tight end Christian Sabatini.
But there are nine known commits from Louisiana high schools.
Among the nine, six are from outside the Acadiana area: Anderson, offensive lineman Cory Marshall of Northwood High in Shreveport, Thibodaux High receiver Kyren Lacy, defensive lineman Sonny Hazard of Jesuit High in New Orleans, East St. John High receiver Dontae Fleming and athlete Tyree Skipper of Sophie B. Wright High in New Orleans.
Three are Acadiana-area products: Amos; Lafayette Christian Academy receiver Errol Rogers Jr.; and juco-transfer receiver Tanarious Achan, who played at Comeaux High.
Amos' and Anderson's commitments came on the same weekend another Cajun recruit, St. Charles Catholic defensive lineman Mason Narcisse, flipped from Louisiana Tech to Tulane.
Narcisse, who visited UL in June, also had the Cajuns in his top five.
Earlier this year, Tulane also flipped Destrehan High defensive end Noah Taliancich from UL.
Another Cajun recruit, offensive lineman Dillon Wade of Cy Falls High in Houston, continues to include UL on his list of possible picks, along with Tulsa, UTEP, Texas State and Texas-San Antonio.
Wade’s Twitter account has said since late July that he’ll be “picking a home soon.”
Determining whom they might add and wondering whom they might lose are parts of the game played as the Cajuns juggle preparation for their 2019 season, which begins Aug. 31 against Mississippi State in New Orleans, with recruiting.
Part of that process, Napier suggested earlier this month, includes using preseason camp to evaluate personnel, including 50 newcomers, signees and walk-ons among them, and determine what positions need to be areas of focus as the 2020 signing class is closed out.
“We have conversations about that almost daily,” Napier said earlier this month.
“I think the most-important thing is there’s a lot of good players out there. It’s about making good evaluations and taking players that are gonna be able to fit to what we do and how we do it.
“I’ve been very pleased with the class we signed last year so far,” he added, “and we’ll continue to recruit – and, most importantly, evaluate – at a high level.”
Ragin' Cajuns tight end Rogers:'He's a special cat'