UL's Prudhomme takes show from film room to the field

Tim Buckley
The Daily Advertiser

He played, and started, in all 12 games as a third-year sophomore last season.

Cole Prudhomme is expected to start again at center for UL in 2018.

But after sustaining a shoulder injury that prompted surgical repair, Cole Prudhomme missed a valuable opportunity to impress first-year UL coach Billy Napier and his new Ragin’ Cajun staff last spring.

Without a doubt, it pained the Eunice High product to sit out.

“It was hard,” Prudhomme said. “I really wanted to be out there like everyone else — get a head start.

“But, you know, I was limited, so my biggest focus was being in the film — watch as much film (as possible), learn the playbook.”

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Being shelved like he was, Prudhomme’s return to the starting lineup in 2018 was by no means guaranteed.

At the Sun Belt Conference’s football Media Day last month in New Orleans, in fact, Napier declared the battle to start at the spot an open one, saying, “Cole’s got to go earn his stripes with this new staff.”

And it was just a day before preseason camp opened earlier in this month that new offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Rob Sale said, “We’re gonna have competition at center.”

“Cole Prudhomme was not here in the spring,” Sale said at the time.

“Caden (Cunningham),” he added, “did a good job there at the end of spring communicating, giving the calls, making a Mike declaration.”

In the weekend-and-a-half or so since camp opened, however, all that has changed. Prudhomme's move from the film room to the field has been met with rave reviews.

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Napier made that quite clear when he met with media members Monday, two days after the Cajuns held their first scrimmage of camp.

“It’s just very evident that he has a very good summer,” Napier said after days spent watching Prudhomme up close and personal. “He has gotten back in position where he’s the starter at center.

“We do have some quality depth there, though,” Napier hastened to add. “Some guys got some valuable reps in the spring that carried over.”


Backing up Prudhomme, Napier said this week, will be senior Kordell Brewster, a junior-transfer from San Gorgonio High in San Bernadino, California, by way of Chaffey (California) College.

Playing primarily as UL’s No. 2 center, Brewster appeared in five games for UL last year.

He spent the second half of spring practice earlier this year at left guard, though, and was listed as a potential co-starter there along with Ken Marks.

But now he’s back behind Prudhomme again.

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Also still in the mix at center is Cunningham, a walk-on from Acadiana High who spent time on UL’s scout time each of the past three years.

Both of those two, Napier said, “did really well in spring.”

It’s Prudhomme, though, who has shown the most since camp opened, making him a virtual shoo-in, barring injury, to be back, when UL opens its 2018 season on Sept. 1 against Grambling at Cajun Field, in the same spot that he ended last year.

“Getting him back, he’s really done a good job of really ‘quarterbacking’ that (offensive line) room,” Napier said Monday. “He’s a great leader. I think he’s got a good grasp of our system.”


For that, Prudhomme gives much credit to Sale, a former LSU offensive lineman from Neville High in Monroe who previously has coached the o-line at Arizona State in 2017, UL Monroe in 2016, Georgia in 2015 and McNeese from 2012-14.

“The emphasis he has on technique is tremendous,” Prudhomme said. “It’s so mind-opening to me.

“Just the little things. … Proper feet work, placement, hands inside. And just reading where your linebacker is; the angles you can take, angles you shouldn’t take. … And little things mean a lot.”

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The new knowledge gained is something Prudhomme hopes will help as he plays this year — as things shape up at least for now — with Marks at guard and perhaps Rico Robinson at tackle on his left side and Kevin Dotson at guard and Robert Hunt at tackle on his right side.

Also beneficial in 2018, though, will be the experience Prudhomme gained on a 5-7 team in 2017.

After paying his dues as a member of UL’s scout team in 2015, then appearing late in just one game in 2016 — a win at Texas State — actually being on the field last season was a huge step for the 6-foot-3, 300-pounder.

Previously he played behind two-year Eddie Gordon, who now is an assistant strength and conditioning coach and a director of player development for the Cajuns.

“Last year, in a sense, I got my toes wet, starting to learn everything,” Prudhomme said a few days ago. “And now, when I go out there, it’s a repeat, in a sense.

“I’m being able to see the defense — how they move. I can tell when the defensive lineman is coming in, the ’backer’s rotating out — things like that.

“To me, my game has stepped up a lot. My offensive line — we stepped up a lot,” Prudhomme added. “The offense as a whole — everybody, to me, has gotten so much smarter.”

It’s the beginning of the realization of all he hoped would unfold back in the spring, when his wing was on the mend and all he could do was keep his eyes on film and his nose in the playbook.

“Now,” Prudhomme said with what sure sounded like relief in his voice, “I’m able to go all in and just put it all into action.”

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