UL’s super seniors now mix maturity and thirst for improvement | UL Ragin ‘Cajuns

They are eight in number.

One of them has actually been on the UL campus for seven years now.

Some of them are transfers and only arrived in Lafayette two or three years ago.

The eight super seniors – back for another year of eligibility due to COVID-19 – are hoping their lagniappe season with the Ragin ‘Cajuns will produce the biggest reward to date.

The glorious offseason for UL’s football program is officially over.

One thing is certain, all this experience did not dampen their enthusiasm while bringing them a lot of wisdom.

“I know for myself I’m certainly just as hungry,” said linebacker Ferrod Gardner, who has been on campus since 2017.

“It’s just the love of the game. We wouldn’t have come back if we hadn’t liked the game, loved the work and wanted to go and win with the same guys… and just play for the staff. These are the determining factors that made us want to come back and continue to win with this group.

It’s not that there weren’t any decisions to be made. Gardner admits he considered trying his luck in professional football.

“It was a definitive battle every day for a while,” he said.

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So, like his colleagues, Gardner consulted his coaches and family for advice. Regardless of his direction, Gardner’s goal was to make sure he made the right decision.

“It was really just betting on myself,” Gardner said. “A good analogy Coach Napier gave me during the process was, ‘Are you ready to take the test now or are you waiting another 12 months to take the test? “

“It really marked me throughout the process. I felt that with more time my experience and my game would only increase and help me in the long run.

Offensive lineman Ken Marks has been at UL since 2015. His teammates call him everything from “Old Man” to “Grandpaw” to “Pops”.

Not only does Marks take no offense, but he simply responds by helping in any way he can.

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“Whatever they’re going through, I’ve probably been through it,” Marks said. “I have already experienced a lot. So I’m just a crutch for them to use.

The rest of the squad range from starting quarterback Levi Lewis to veteran wide receiver Jalen Williams, outside linebacker Chauncey Manac at his third school, defensive tackle Tayland Humphrey at his third school, kicker Nate Snyder and reserve safety Cameron Solomon. .

Like Marks, Solomon is enjoying one of the longest college football careers in history – arriving in 2016 – but they also know there is still plenty of room to improve.

“You can see it like we’ve been here forever, but it’s football,” Marks said. “It’s a constantly evolving game. Things change, positions change, people change… you just have to grow with it.

“There are guys who’ve been in the (NFL) league for over 10 years and they’re still learning different things every day. “

In fact, Marks could very well be the best lieutenant in UL’s Convenience Police.

“You can never be complacent,” he insisted. “There is always room to grow. There is always room for improvement.

“There is no cap anywhere. Whenever you think you’ve reached the top, there is always another level that you can access. This is how I live life. You cannot be complacent. It’s the number one thing in my life, don’t be complacent.

It’s a level of maturity that Napier and his team appreciate because everyone understands that nothing has been promised.

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It was technically called Sun Belt Football Media Day last Thursday at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans.

“It will be very competitive,” Napier said. “There are a lot of roles to be determined. Although we have veterans, I think we also have a very talented group of rookies.

“I also want to stress that this doesn’t mean they are entitled to the role they had last year or the playing time they received in the past. We are going to evaluate what we will see over the next 17 days and we will reward people who deserve to be rewarded.

Marks said this camp remains unique compared to all the others he experienced during his time at UL.

“There is always room for improvement,” said Marks. “Just get our game recognition and understand the offense, understand the defense. We have a bunch of new coaches so be good to them and get to know how they work in matches.

“The tone was set when we returned in January. Then we took it up again when we started the summer. We know what we need to do, organize a successful camp and prepare for our first game. “

Gardner agrees.

“We come into this fall camp with experience, we know what to expect and we have a high standard to ourselves,” he said. “We will not get out of it any less.

“There are a lot of things that I haven’t accomplished yet.

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About Ethel Nester

Ethel Nester

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