National Signing Day a Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football power play for Billy Napier, UL

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Being a part of a program that’s gone from three straight losing seasons in 2015-17 to one with a combined 21 win the last two years isn’t for everyone.

Two former Ragin’ Cajun recruits who had been committed prior to the early signing period in December, in fact, no longer are expected to sign with UL.

Defensive end Kason Boston of Jackson-Olin High in Birmingham, Alabama, decommitted last week. Boston, who committed Dec. 8, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Martavious “NyNy” Davis, a receiver from Etowah High in Attalla, Alabama, decommitted in mid-January. He subsequently committed to Utah State.

Whether the Cajuns moved on – recruiting code for deciding not to sign the commitment, for whatever – isn’t clear.

Beyond developments involving those two, expect the expected from UL on Wednesday.

National Signing Day should be relatively drama-free for the Cajuns, a program whose rising national prominence has drawn the attention of Power 5 quality recruits from Texas to Georgia.

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Cajun aspirations a recruiting lure

UL finished 2020 ranked No. 16 in the Amway Coaches Poll and No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25 after winning its third straight bowl game with a First Responder Bowl victory over UTSA.

The Cajuns’ 21 wins in 2019-20 – 11-3 with a LendingTree Bowl win over Miami (Ohio) two seasons ago, 10-1 last season – make them one of six FBS teams with more than 20 wins the past two seasons. It puts them in lofty company, joining Alabama (24), Clemson (24), Appalachian State (22), Notre Dame (21) and Oklahoma (21). 

“They’re planning on being in a New Year’s Six bowl game and all that type of stuff,” said commitment George Jackson, an offensive lineman from Stephenson High in Stone Mountain, Georgia, “and I just want to be a part of that.”

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The Ragin' Cajuns head into National Signing Day riding high off their First Responder Bowl win over UTSA.

Jackson, who had offers from multiple SEC programs, plans to join a signing class already largely in place.

The Cajuns signed eight high school players in December – quarterbacks Zy McDonald and Hunter Herring, receiver Robert Williams, running back Dre’lyn Washington, offensive lineman Mackey Maillho, outside linebacker Cameron Whitfield, cornerback Key’Savalyn Barnes and safety Cejae Ceasar.

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They also signed Independence (Kansas) Community College inside linebacker Kendre’ Gant and added three FBS transfers, TCU receiver John Stephens Jr., Kansas State safety Tyrone Lewis Jr and Kansas defensive end/outside linebacker Clinton Anokwuru.

Three longtime commits who didn’t sign in December still are expected to sign on Wednesday – Carencro High running back Kendrell Williams, who was offered by Iowa in January; Acadiana High defensive end/outside linebacker Cam George; and Jalen Clark, who was recruited as a defensive back but played quarterback at Montgomery’s Alabama Christian School.

The Cajuns added four high school commits in January, securing pledges from Jathan Caldwell, a tight end from Dickinson High in Texas, Many High running back Terrence Williams and KC Ossai, an inside linebacker from Oak Ridge High in Conroe, Texas, in addition to Jackson.

Ossai is an ex-Arizona commit and Jackson previously was pledged to Florida, but Ossai didn’t sign after a December coaching change for the Wildcats and Jackson didn’t sign after the Gators’ interest waned.

They’ll join a UL program that added three other FBS transfers in January – ex-Maryland backup quarterback Lance LeGendre, former Fresno State backup QB Ben Wooldridge and ex-Nebraska offensive lineman redshirt Matthew Anderson.

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Billy Napier sees Sun Belt on the rise

It’s all part of a power play designed to keep the Cajuns riding high, giving them an advantage in a conference – the Sun Belt – coach Billy Napier sees as increasingly competitive and in a national landscape that no longer can ignore teams from the SBC.

One Saturday alone last season, UL opened its year with an upset win at Iowa State, Arkansas State beat Kansas State and Coastal Carolina beat Kansas.  

“I’m proud of our league,” Napier said.

“I think the administrations have committed, and a lot of our … teams have performed well in the crossover Group of Five games. We played well against the Power 5 competition. And I think it’s a respectable level of football. I think the personnel’s improving, the coaching’s improving, and I think it’s only gonna get better.”

Even if it’s not for everyone.

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