It's not a dream: Louisiana football tight end Pearse Migl makes impact

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

UL tight ends coach Michael Desormeaux remembers scouting Pearse Migl at Welsh High.

What Desormeaux saw was a do-it-all he knew could fill a role of some sort at the next level.

“I love the way he played,” Desormeaux said.

“The kid did everything. He played d-end, he played fullback, he played tight end. He played guard when he was younger. … He did whatever it took to win – and that’s what he does for us.”

With five starts in his redshirt sophomore season including a touchdown catch in an October win at UAB, Migl – who arrived as a walk-on – has become an integral piece for the No. 25 Ragin’ Cajuns, who play South Alabama on Saturday at Cajun Field (1 p.m., ESPN+).

But for a long time he wasn’t sure where, or what, he’d play in college. A few other programs offered walk-on opportunities. Some wanted him as a tight end. Some even wanted him as long snapper, which he also did for Welsh.

At UL, which his mother Rhonda also attended, possibilities initially seemed endless.

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"Coach Des, he was like, 'We want you to play tight end. You can play fullback, H tight end, as well as deep snap,'" Migl said.

He tried it all.

“I wasn’t sure where exactly I was gonna fit,” the 6-foot Migl said. “I was hoping it would be more tight end, offensively related.

“But I understood that with my length, and DI college football, that maybe it might not be the true tight end I was in high school. It might be more fullback-related, off the ball and all that. I welcomed that. I like that.”

'A dream come true'

UL tight end Pearse Migl (24) celebrates his touchdown catch in last month's win over UAB at Legion Field in Birmingham.

Migl has figured out how to be a difference-maker blocking despite his size.

He’s spoken with offensive line coaches, offensive linemen and fellow tight end Johnny Lumpkin – much larger at 6-6 – to learn tricks of the trade.

He’s even asked UL defensive linemen for help.

“I try to figure out what their weaknesses are,” Migl said.

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“Getting locked up with a much bigger, taller guy is very hard. He’s got me on reach. If I don’t strain he’s going to pull and tear off and make a play, so for me, it’s a lot of effort-based blocks. I go as fast as I can and I stay on as long as I can, just going to the end of the whistle.”

The 9-yard TD reception in Birmingham was lagniappe.

“That was incredible,” he said.

“As a kid, I grew up watching college football on Saturdays. That was my dream. I was like, ‘I want to be one of those guys on TV that my family can watch.’

“Last year, Hunter (Bergeron) got one, Neal (Johnson) got one, Nick (Ralston) had a few. … It was like everybody but me,” Migl added. “I was missing out on the party, I felt like. So now I got that; it’s a dream come true.”

'One of the greatest stories of the year'

For Cajuns coaches, the reality was another tool for their box.

A season ago, UL lost tight end Chase Rogers to a foot injury and subsequent transfer to Ole Miss, where he’s played four games this year, and Johnny Lumpkin to a shoulder injury.

But heading into this season, head coach Billy Napier knew he had plenty of tight end options.

“Last year was a very unique year because of two injuries,” Napier said, “but I can’t say enough about Mike Desormeaux and the job he did last year to get Hunter (Bergeron) and Pearse (Migl) ready to play.

“I think it was one of the greatest stories of the year, relative to what those guys were able to do, unexpectedly.”

Graduate-transfer Ralston was done after 2019.

But with Migl and Bergeron returning, Johnson back after playing as a true freshman, and the return of Lumpkin providing what Napier called “a shot in the arm,” Desormeaux’s room was set.

“We all kind of just jumped back into it,” Migl said.

“The chemistry is all still there, I believe. It feels like we really haven’t missed a beat from last year.”

'A phenomenal kid'

The group indeed is delivering.

Migl has his one catch, Bergeron two, Lumpkin three. Johnson had five of his seven in last Saturday’s 27-20 win over Arkansas State.

But it’s what cannot be counted that has the Cajuns leaning so heavily on the undersized Migl.

“Pearse Migl is just everything you want in a kid on your team,” Desormeaux said. “He works incredibly hard. He’s intelligent.

“The kid is just a phenomenal kid. I have a room full of special kids, and Pearse is one without a doubt. He’s fun to coach. It’s easy to go to work when you get to coach kids like I get to coach.

“The negative to Pearse is that he’s 6 foot, and I think that ends up being a positive for him,” Desormeaux added. “I think it’s a chip on his shoulder … to prove himself right.”

Which all Migl wanted coming out Welsh, where in 2017 he played on a Class 2A state championship team.

“I didn’t think I would be anything super highly recruited,” he said.

“I’ve always been told, “too short, not long enough” and all that. So I had to work a lot on my edge – what I’m good at.”

And now?

“I just get a chance to go out there and just have fun,” Migl said.

“I just kind of stare out and gaze out at the sky and am just thankful for the opportunity I have.”

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