National signing day ends with 22 new Cajuns
The Louisiana-Lafayette football team’s national signing day concluded Wednesday with eight new offensive players and 14 new defensive players.
Head coach Mark Hudspeth said he felt the Cajuns had a successful day and believes the team filled both immediate and long-term needs.
“I felt like we really hit the mark on what we really needed to address in terms of maybe immediate needs at some positions,” he said. “And also some positions where we feel like we’ve got time to develop some players too.”
Incoming high school freshman aren’t often players to come in and make an immediate impact in college, but this year they shouldn’t have to for the Cajuns.
Five of the 22 players in the 2016 recruiting class are junior college transfers and as a whole, should be the ones to contribute sooner rather than later. All five of the junior college transfers play on the defensive side of the football, consisting of three defensive lineman and two defensive backs.
“That’s what these (junior college) guys will help us do,” Hudspeth said. “The guys we got we feel like are very active with high motors, so we feel real good about those guys moving forward. I think we helped our football team today.”
Hudspeth said he hopes the added depth to the defensive line will help the Cajuns get more pressure on the quarterback in 2016; something they lacked last season after losing defensive linemen Justin Hamilton and Christian Ringo to NFL practice squads.
Mississippi Delta Community College’s transfer and pass rushing special Jarvis Jeffries may be held on the highest pedestal of the five transfers.
“We were able to get some needed help in the secondary via junior college transfers,” Hudspeth said. “Also on the defensive line, especially some defensive end-active guys that can create some pass rush, and I think we got that with Jarvis Jeffries.”
The secondary was the position addressed the most with six defensive backs: two junior college transfers and four high school players.
Although the 2016 class was dominated in numbers by defensive talent, the Cajuns didn’t shy from adding firepower on offense.
With quarterback being undoubtedly the most important position on the football field, the Cajuns signed local passer Jake Arceneaux of Ascension Episcopal School.
The Cajuns, who are almost becoming famous for producing talented running backs, signed two: Trey Ragas from Archbishop Shaw High school and Raymond Calais from Cecilia High School.
Ragas had multiple offers from teams in the power five conferences but ultimately settled with the Cajuns when he sent in his letter of intent early Wednesday morning.
“Trey had a lot of action the whole way through.” Hudspeth said. “But at the end of the day, you’re proud to land a guy like Trey. He came from a great program (and he’s) one heck of a football player who fits our mold as a running back.”
The freshman that might be most likely to come in and contribute immediately is tight end Cody Mitchell of Jasper, Texas. At 6’ 5” and 236 pounds, Mitchell already looks the part of a starting tight end at the division I ranks.
“He’s going to fit into what we do,” Hudspeth said. “He’s a long, very athletic tight end that can really stretch the field. For what we’re going to do with the tight end; that’s the mold that we were looking for.”
The 22 total signees may not be it for the Cajuns either. Hudspeth said they are considering signing one more player. With the NCAA’s sanctions limiting the Cajuns to 22 scholarships, that would require one of the 22 signees to grey shirt in 2016.
Regardless of what may happen with the possible 23rd recruit, Hudspeth said he looks forward to the 22 new signees joining the team next semester.
“Real proud.” Hudspeth said.” Proud of our staff, proud of the work that a lot of people have put into this and proud of a great group of young men that decided to be Ragin’ Cajuns and looking forward to them joining our family.”