LAFAYETTE — One of the things that pained senior receiver Jamal Robinson the most about missing most of the 2014 season was the missed opportunity to prove himself against some of the best teams in the country.
He sustained two injuries last season, the first one causing him to miss Louisiana-Lafayette’s premier nonconference games against Ole Miss and Boise State, the second ending his season in Week 6.
Now, after being granted an opportunity to return to the Ragin’ Cajuns, he’ll get that chance again this weekend against Kentucky.
“If he can stay healthy and get back to the speed he plays at? He’s a guy we can go to on Saturday,” Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said. “This is a guy who loves and relishes this type of opportunity to play against good people.”
The “if” is still nagging. Hudspeth has seen glimpses of the old Jamal Robinson during preseason catches — the one who hauled in 15 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns in what was essentially two games before his season ended prematurely. But he’s going to withhold saying Robinson is back to being that complete version of himself until he sees him do it in a game.
“I think right now he’s confident at practice, but just to get in that game and really go at the speed he wants to play at, see how he holds up,” Hudspeth said. “You remember, he finally came back last year and wasn’t quite the same guy, then got injured again.”
That’s not entirely true. Robinson came back from the first injury to snare eight passes for 119 yards and two scores against Georgia State.
Still, Robinson agrees to some extent that he’ll need some game experience to truly feel like his old self. And Hudspeth can only hope Robinson’s anticipated timeline is correct.
“Probably after one play, after I get a little contact, I’ll feel way better,” Robinson said.
Robinson said he’s not nervous about getting back on the field. More than anything, he’s champing at the bit.
This has been a long time coming.
“I’m anxious,” Robinson said. “I’m just ready for Saturday. I’ve been going full speed at practice, and I’m ready.”
Clean bill of health ... sort of
The Cajuns made it through the demanding portion of their practice week without incurring any further injuries, Hudspeth said. Everyone who is listed on the depth chart that the Cajuns released Monday should make the trip and be ready to play.
Unfortunately for the Cajuns, that depth chart does not include wide receiver Jared Johnson or tight end Matthew Barnes, who were lost for the season, or running back Effrem Reed, who has not participated in practice for a few weeks.
It also doesn’t include projected starters defensive back Simeon Thomas (ineligible) and defensive lineman Ladarrius Kidd (suspended).