What we know about Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns football after 1 week of preseason practice

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

UL football has completed a week of preseason practice after getting started Aug. 6.

Here's what we know.

COVID-19 vaccination percentage

Coach Billy Napier wouldn’t say during the Sun Belt Conference’s Media Day last month how many UL players have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

But this week he said UL is “well over 90 percent in our football bubble” of 200-plus players, coaches and staffers.

“I do think we’re all a little more aware of what’s going on around us, right?” Napier said. “I think the state of Louisiana is a hot spot, and we’ve got to do our part and make good choices and decisions relative to the team.”

Napier said the Cajuns “did have a couple contact trace situations” early and two unidentified players out with “illness.”

He previously identified holder Dalen Cambre as being out due to “general illness.”

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Lorenzo McCaskill ‘starting over’ with shoulder

Lorenzo McCaskill, the returning starting Mike linebacker, said he’s fully hitting again after undergoing postseason labrum damage in his shoulder that caused him to miss spring practice.

He said he got hurt during an October loss to Coastal Carolina, and wasn’t the same afterward.

“I had a huge jump at the beginning of last season, and the injury kind of brought it back down, slowed it back down,” McCaskill said Thursday. “(I’m) getting back used to trying to use my shoulder, because it’s like starting over.”

Quarterback Levi Lewis (1), coach Billy Napier and the Ragin' Cajuns, shown here during spring practice, have completed a full week of preseason camp.

T.J. Wisham's wrist fully healed

Napier said running back T.J. Wisham, who underwent two surgeries last season to repair a potentially career-ending wrist injury, opened camp with no physical limitations.

Wisham said he’s continuing to build his rhythm and feels “really good coming back.”

Wisham and Emani Bailey are leading contenders to join top returnee Chris Smith in the running backs rotation.

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Ragin' Cajun pro prospects

Five Cajuns were named Thursday to the Senior Bowl watch list: quarterback Levi Lewis, offensive tackle Max Mitchell, safety Percy Butler, defensive lineman Tayland Humphrey and outside linebacker/defensive end Chauncey Manac.

Lewis said his appearance on the list “means a lot” but that it wouldn’t happen without teammates.

“My o-line – it just means those guys are doing their job,” he said Thursday. “My receiver corps – they’re the ones that make the catches, make me look good. All I have to do is sit back and just throw the ball.”

He’s had Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy’s eye for quite some time.

“The easy knock on Louisiana QB Levi Lewis will be height … but big hands … will help ease size concerns for some NFL teams,” Nagy tweeted last month. “Fun to watch & hard to defend. Stylistically, think Kyler Murray. Staff says (Lewis) is an A+ leader & person.”

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UL super seniors

Napier has his deepest UL team in four seasons. He sees that as nothing but a good thing.

“It creates competition, right?” he said. “It creates a reality that you can be replaced if you’re not disciplined and accountable and you can’t do your job.”

The Cajuns have eight players in camp taking advantage of the extra of season eligibility granted them due to the COVID-19 pandemic: Lewis, Humphrey, offensive guard Ken Marks, receivers Jamal Bell and Jalen Williams, inside linebacker Ferrod Gardner, safety Cam Solomon and kicker Nate Snyder.

“The super seniors help,” Napier said, “but we’d be deep even if we didn’t have them.”