LAFAYETTE — There’s been a new king of wind sprints during the Louisiana-Lafayette football team’s summer strength and conditioning workouts.
Jeryl Brazil, a Cajuns track athlete and former LSU football player, is now officially a member of the Cajuns football team. While he is still more than a month away from his first practice, the speed that made him a highly sought-after recruit out of Loranger High School was evident immediately.
“He’s exceptionally fast,” said Cajuns strength and conditioning coach Rusty Whitt. “A very quick start. We’re doing a lot of sprinting drills, plyometric drills, switch-of-direction drills and he just has a very, very quick burst. It’s one of those things you really don’t coach.
“We have some fast players, and he’s about an arm’s length ahead of those guys, 3 yards off the ball.”
Brazil has already completed a semester of classes and participated on the Cajuns track team this spring. Coach Mark Hudspeth said he began working out with the football team shortly after competing at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in early June.
Hudspeth said Brazil is not participating on a tryout basis and will be competing for a starting cornerback position after the team reports for fall camp on Aug. 5.
“I haven’t seen him play in person, so I’m anxious to go out and see him,” Hudspeth said. “He’ll have a chance to compete for a starting job. Right now, one of our corner spots, we don’t know who that is, so he’ll have a chance right away to compete for that spot.”
Brazil came to the Cajuns after spending one season at East Mississippi Community College. There, he only played one game before a knee injury ended his season. Hudspeth said Brazil is “still gaining confidence in his knee” after undergoing surgery, but considering how well he performed sprinting for the Cajuns track team, he’s confident he’ll be ready to go once the fall starts.
Brazil ran the anchor leg on the Cajuns 4x100 relay team that qualified for the NCAA championships and also turned in an eighth-place finish in the 100-meter dash at the Sun Belt Conference championships.
Brazil started his football career at LSU, where he worked both sides of the ball. He only appeared in one game, carrying the ball twice for 10 yards as a running back, before his career abruptly ended after multiple run-ins with the law.
LSU dismissed Brazil from the football team in December 2013 after Baton Rouge police issued a warrant for his arrest stemming from a home burglary. Brazil was suspended indefinitely in October of that year after being arrested for criminal damage to property and simple battery.
He has maintained a clean record since his troubles in his freshman year, and Hudspeth said Brazil has done all the right things since his arrival on campus.
“The reasons he left (LSU) are water under the bridge for me,” Hudspeth said. “He’s got a clean slate here. He’s done nothing here but exactly what we’ve asked him to do.
“As far as proving himself on the field, he’ll have to do that just like everybody else. I’m anxious to work with him.”
Brazil has two years of eligibility remaining.
Hudspeth said in February that Brazil would likely find his way to the football team after the track season finished, and he intimated then that he wasn’t sure on which side of the ball Brazil would play.
For now, he’ll stick to defense, where the Cajuns are replacing both starting cornerbacks. But his speed could make him an intriguing option in the return game as well.
“A lot of fast guys, it’s hard to train agility and change of direction because they’re used to going one way, but he has an ability to change direction,” Whitt said. “He can bend, extend and move around pretty good. He’s an exciting guy to have around.”