How Kyren Lacy seized opportunity after leaving Thibodaux for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Kyren Lacy was fresh out of Thibodaux High, where things on the football field came pretty easy.

He had 54 catches for 854 yards, 18 touchdowns during his season season. Lacy also had several offers, including late ones from Miami, Kansas and Houston – all several months after committing to the Ragin’ Cajuns – and early ones from Virginia and Louisiana Tech.

But when he got to UL last summer, reality hit hard.

“My first day, I was just lost,” Lacy said. “I’m just asking everybody for help. I wasn’t ready.”

The situation was similar for fellow freshman receivers Dontae Fleming and Errol Rogers Jr.

“I ain’t gonna lie: At the beginning it was a lot of pressure,” Lacy said, “because we (were) like, ‘Ain’t no way we’re gonna able to play because of the guys that (were) in front of us.’ ”

Before long, however, the trio was needed.

Early and often. Ready or not.  

A couple guys get hurt,” Lacy said, “and it’s all about opportunities in college.”

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Upset at Iowa State

Lacy soon had his first college reception, a 14-yarder, in UL’s 2020 season opening win at nationally ranked Iowa State.

“It was amazing,” said Lacy, now halfway through spring practice. “After the game, I looked at my phone, I had a thousand messages. It was going crazy. It was like the whole Thibodaux was tuned it.

“It was like, ‘Wow, we won the game, and I actually played in my first college game, got my first catch. And it was on ESPN.’ So I was super motivated after that.”

By year’s end Lacy had 28 catches for 364 yards, both team-highs, and four touchdowns, all despite being sophomore wideout Peter LeBlanc’s backup.

Five of Lacy’s catches came in a win at UL Monroe and his fourth TD catch came in UL’s First Responder Bowl win over Texas-San Antonio.

“I got the opportunity early to step up,” Lacy said, “so that’s what I did.”

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Ragin' Cajuns freshman receiver Kyren Lacy runs after making a catch in UL's Dec. 26 First Responder Bowl win over Texas-San Antonio in Dallas.

A lost Cajun

Early on, however, Lacy really did feel lost.

“It was a lot different from coming out of high school, because in high school I was ‘that guy,’ ” he said. “Everybody would come up to me.

“Now … I would come up asking everybody, ‘What can I do to get better?’ ”

He sought advice from veteran receiver Jalen Williams.

“Jalen Williams did a lot of things he even shouldn’t have to do,” Lacy said. “He helped me extra hours. I’d go to Jalen Williams for anything.”

Soon after committing to the Cajuns, Lacy, Fleming and Rogers began texting each other about how they couldn’t wait to get to UL.

Once they did, all three leaned on each other.

“We’d just look over stuff, like, ‘What can we do to get better?’ ” Lacy said.

“We’d be on the phone every day,” Fleming added, “(discussing) all the plays.”

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Leger tutors Lacy

Mostly, though, Lacy listened to receivers coach Tim Leger’s advice about how doing things right requires more than mere athleticism.

“We had a discussion yesterday: ‘It’s not about having all the tools. It’s about knowing when to use what tool, and why you’re using it,’ ” Leger said.

“He’s really creative, he’s really powerful, he’s fast-twitch; all of those things that make him a good press release guy. But there’s sometimes he’s using releases versus the wrong leverage … and it just doesn’t marry up.”

That’s why this spring is so vital.

“Part of what we’re trying to get him to understand now is, ‘What is my responsibility in the end? What is my route? What is the leverage of the DB, and how do I meet that leverage? What tool do I use, instead of just picking something out of thin air,’ ” Leger said.

“We can determine the release and the route based on just leverage if we just understand what we’re doing versus ‘I was watching some NFL tape and I saw this really good release and it worked really good.’ ”

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Limitless possibilities

If he can grasp that, there’s no telling what Lacy can accomplish.

“He’s a talented kid,” Leger said.

“Kyren is a kid that loves to play football. Tremendous work ethic, work capacity.”

He has fun off the field – “(Rogers) is the quiet one; Kyren’s always the clowning one,” Fleming said – but is all business on it.

“He’s always locked in and ready to roll,” Cajuns quarterback Levi Lewis said. “He’s a guy you can count on, loyal.”

Most important to Leger is that Lacy is a willing pupil, which sometimes is half the battle for freshmen loaded with talent but lacking experience.

“He studies really hard,” Leger said, “so we’re just trying to get him to know what to do and why you’re doing it.”