LAFAYETTE — University of Louisiana at Lafayette junior cornerback Simeon Thomas will miss at least this Saturday’s game against Kentucky and possibly more, coach Mark Hudspeth said Monday.
“Simeon is not going to make the trip,” Hudspeth said. “He is going to be held out of this game due to some eligibility concerns dating back to last season. That’s all we can say about that.”
Thomas hasn’t played since he recorded eight tackles and two passes broken up as a freshman in 2013. He was academically ineligible for all of last season.
This was supposed to be the year Thomas’ ample potential gave way to production on the football field.
The 6-foot-3 Thomas spent all of spring and summer entrenched as a starting cornerback and had drawn praise from both Hudspeth and new defensive coordinator Melvin Smith, who often compared Thomas to former Mississippi State defensive back and Thorpe Award winner Johnthan Banks.
The Cajuns are replacing both of their starting cornerbacks from last season. With Thomas locking down one side, the Cajuns were holding a competition between five players for the starting job opposite him.
Now two of those five players will find themselves in the starting lineup, and they could be there for a few weeks.
“We’re not for sure (how long Thomas will be out), but probably at least a couple of weeks,” Hudspeth said.
Hudspeth said the Cajuns have known about Thomas’ eligibility issue for about a week and a half, which at least gave them time to prepare for not having him in the lineup.
“It’s not like we just found out today,” Hudspeth said. “We have had some chances to work some other guys there.”
Junior-college transfer Savion Brown was listed as the starter in Thomas’ usual spot on the depth chart released Monday, with senior Jevante Watson starting on the other side. Fellow junior-college transfer Jeryl Brazil was slotted behind Brown, while junior Troy McCollum was listed behind Watson.
The 6-foot-2 Brown brings the same type of ideal size that Thomas brought to the position, and Hudspeth said he runs well, but he’s gone through his growing pains as he’s adjusted to Division I football.
Hudspeth singled out Brazil as having had a “phenomenal week” of practice last week. The former LSU player has also had his ups and downs during preseason camp, but his speed makes him an instant candidate for playing time.
“There’s not a guy on the field that’s going to be faster than Jeryl Brazil,” Hudspeth said. “Now, I’m not saying they can’t get behind him if he doesn’t play with good fundamentals, but this guy can turn it over when he runs. I’m hoping that he can be a weapon for us.”
The Cajuns will also be without defensive lineman LaDarrius Kidd, who Hudspeth said will be serving a one-game suspension for violating team rules.
Hudspeth was anticipating to use Kidd as part of a six-man rotation along the defensive line, but he was not on the depth chart the team released Monday. In his spot was sophomore defensive end Blain Winston, who has yet to play a game in his two years with the Cajuns.