Ragin' Cajuns thrilled to have 6-6 receiver Calif Gossett back from Achilles tendon surgery

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

He played against UAB last week and had no catches that counted.

But wow is UL quarterback Levi Lewis ever happy to have Calif Gossett in his stable of receivers again.

“It helps out a lot with that guy,” Lewis said Wednesday.

“With his speed, his experience, his football savvy, his IQ, it’s always good to have a guy like Calif back and ready to roll.”

Gossett made a faster-than-anticipated recovery from offseason surgery to repair a damaged Achilles tendon, returning – according to UL coach Billy Napier – about two weeks early.

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“We felt like he may be a second-half-of-the-season guy,” Napier said Wednesday night.

“We’ve been very pleased with Calif’s progress. He showed great discipline in the rehab process.

“Certainly for him to have to rehab during the (COVID-19) pandemic was unique,” Napier added, “but he did a great job and he’s back earlier than expected – and since he’s gotten back he’s done a nice job.”

Although he had just 15 catches for 178 yards last season, Napier – whose Cajuns (4-1) visit Texas State (1-6) on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPNU) – seemed about as happy as Lewis to have back the redshirt junior from Florida’s Pensacola High.

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Jan 6, 2020; Mobile, Alabama, USA; Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns wide receiver Calif Gossett (11) hauls in a pass over Miami (Oh) Redhawks defensive back Travion Banks (6) during the second quarter at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Seventy-nine of those yards came on two catches during UL’s LendingTree Bowl win over Miami (Ohio) last January in Mobile, including a career-long 43-yarder.

Gossett also had three receptions over three games in 2018.

“I think we lose sight sometimes of how valuable experience is, right?” Napier said. “Having played in some games. Having been through the gauntlet. Having gotten his tail chewed all the way back to Year 1.

“You know, he’s got thick skin. He’s been under the bright lights. And certainly he’s showed that that experience has proven valuable to him. We’ve been pleased with him, and certainly his opportunities are going to grow.”

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Lewis completed a 48-yard pass to Gossett – all through the air – during UL’s 24-20 win over UAB in Birmingham, the first time he was targeted this season, but it was called back because of a holding penalty.

At 6-foot-6, the 188-pounder doesn’t have to jump high to pull one down – and his size is something UL’s 2020 offense has lacked.

The Cajuns have been playing three true freshmen receivers who all stand between 5-11 and 6-3: Errol Rogers Jr., Dontae Fleming and the tallest, Kyren Lacy. UL’s top two healthy veteran receivers, Jalen Williams and Peter LeBlanc, are 6-3 and 6-2, respectively.

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So Gossett’s height really does set him apart.

But wait. There’s more.

It’s not just the tall fella’s go-get-it ability that has Lewis so pleased.

“He’s a guy … I trust,” the Cajuns quarterback said.

“I could put it anywhere; I know he’s going to come down with it. He’s a guy that knows the system, knows what he’s supposed to do. I know where he’s gonna be. We basically think alike.

“We talk a lot in the offseason, and we’re on the same page,” Lewis added, “and that’s always a good feeling to have that receiver that thinks like you.”

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