Napier reveals long list of Cajuns out for spring finale

Tim Buckley
The Daily Advertiser
UL coach Billy Napier heads into Saturday's spring finale at Cajun Field with a long list of injured players.

Time and time again, UL coach Billy Napier has warned that the Ragin’ Cajuns will be thin on healthy bodies for Saturday afternoon’s spring finale at Cajun Field.

Earlier this week, and for the first time since spring drills opened in March, Napier provided a lengthy injury report illustrating just how hurting the Cajuns are.

Napier — who wasn’t pleased with how Tuesday’s 13th of 15 spring practices went, saying the Cajuns showed “fatigue at times” and “were feeling sorry for ourselves a little bit” — listed 14 players who won’t be available for Saturday’s finale.

“So we’re a little banged up,” Napier said, “and I think that’s one of our issues relative to the quality of work that we can get done.”

UL’s free-admission spring finale will start at 12:30 p.m., preceded by an alumni flag football game, featuring former Cajun quarterbacks Jake Delhomme and Terrance Broadway, that begins at 11:30 a.m.

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Just two of the 14, according to Napier, are out due to injuries sustained since spring practice opened last month: starting running back Trey Ragas and outside linebacker Chaiziere Malbrue.

Napier didn't detail the extent of Ragas’ injury, or reveal when it occurred.

The redshirt freshman rushed for 813 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

Napier did say that the injury sustained by Malbrue, a walk-on from Westminster Academy, required surgery.

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He also said Ryheem Malone, UL’s starting slot receiver last season, has undergone knee surgery.

Malone took part in the Cajuns’ first few spring practices, then had the damaged knee repaired.

“It was an injury from the past that we felt like we needed to go in there and fix instead of letting it linger,” said Napier, whose Cajuns will hold their 14th practice Thursday.

“It was one of those things,” he added, “that we felt like in was in his best interest to go ahead and get that taken care of.”

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One Cajun who is injured, backup running back Elijah Mitchell, remains out due to a surgery performed last season.

The Erath High product had his broken foot repaired last October.

Another Cajun who had his foot surgically repaired during the season last year, starting tight end Chase Rogers, has been practicing this spring.

Rogers said last week that he had a screw surgically implanted into his foot, but added that the injury isn’t limiting him now.

A few other Cajuns, according to Napier, are out after undergoing surgeries related to injuries stemming from last season: starting defensive end Joe Dillon (hip), starting center Cole Prudhomme (shoulder), running back Jordan Wright (back), inside linebacker Justin Middleton (shoulder), defensive end Terrence Jones (knee) and defensive back Bralen Trahan (shoulder).

Prudhomme, from Eunice High, underwent surgery shortly after the end of last season. Trahan, an Acadiana High product, played a reserve role as a true freshman in 2017.

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Also out for Saturday’s finale, according to Napier: receivers Calif Gossett (groin) and walk-on Pat Hughes (shoulder), offensive lineman Staten Wade (knee) and linebacker Tommy Whitted (back).

Wade has been out all spring.

Hughes, it’s believed, was injured in last Saturday’s scrimmage — a 145-play session in which 13 injured Cajun scholarship players did not take part.

More:Bradley, UL receivers shine in injury-impacted scrimmage

With the possible exception of Dillon, all of the injured players — according to Napier — are expected to be ready for the start of the 2018 season.

There is, however, uncertainty about the status of Dillon, a USA Today Freshman All-American as a redshirt freshman in 2016.

“We’ll know a lot about Joe Dillon’s situation here in probably about another three to four weeks,” Napier said Tuesday.

Dillon’s injury dates to last season; the decision on surgery, however, was made only after its extent was detected during pre-spring workouts, and he’s been out all spring.

The injuries — especially those to Malone and the running backs — has limited what starting quarterback candidates Jordan Davis, Andre Nunez and Levi Lewis have been able to accomplish this spring, Napier said.

With Ragas, Mitchell and Wright all hurt, it’s also given reserve running back and kicker returner Raymond Calais Jr. a chance to get an extensive look this spring from first-year UL coach Napier and his staff of new Cajun assistant coaches.

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