LAFAYETTE — The Louisiana-Lafayette football program found its next wide receivers coach right in its own backyard — and he’s a familiar face, too.
Former Cajuns quarterback Michael Desormeaux accepted an offer to leave his post as Ascension Episcopal’s head coach to become the Cajuns’ new wide receivers coach. Desormeaux informed AES of his decision Monday morning, and was in attendance at Cajuns practice Monday afternoon — though not in a working capacity.
The university declined to confirm Desormeaux’s hire because it has not yet been approved by president Joseph Savoie, and because of that, neither Desormeaux nor coach Mark Hudspeth could comment on Desormeaux’s role.
Hudspeth did elaborate on Desormeaux in football terms, however.
“If you know anything about Ragin’ Cajun football, you know about Mike Desormeaux, and you really know the way he played the game,” Hudspeth said. “He was a true competitor, a tough player, was Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year in 2008 … he just brought a toughness to the team.”
This is Desormeaux’s first experience coaching at the collegiate level, but he had a load of success at Ascension Episcopal, where in three years as head coach he guided an underwhelming fledgling program to new heights.
The Blue Gators went 0-9 the year before Desormeaux took over as head coach for the 2013 season, but progressively increased their win total in each successive season under Desormeaux.
They won five games in Desormeaux’s first season and eight in his second season before they really took off last year.
With Cajuns signee Jake Arceneaux at quarterback, Ascension Episcopal won a school-record 11 games while averaging more than 40 points per game in 2015.
The Blue Gators won their first nine games of the season and were the No. 1 seed in the state’s 1A playoffs, where they fell a game shy of the state title game in a 49-42 loss to eventual runners-up St. Mary.
But it’s not likely to be coaching success at the high school level that people in the area first think about when they hear Desormeaux’s name.
Desormeaux was a dynamic athlete at Catholic High School in New Iberia, and translated that into a prolific career at quarterback for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
He played with the Cajuns from 2005-08, and by the time he left he had accumulated the fourth most rushing yards and seventh most passing yards in school history.
Along with Cajuns legend Brian Mitchell, Desormeaux is one of two players in school history to rank in the top 10 in both passing and rushing.
Desormeaux was especially effective with his legs. He racked up 2,176 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground in his final two seasons, becoming the eighth quarterback in NCAA history with back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons.
After college, Desormeaux went back to his high school alma mater, where he served as offensive coordinator before taking the job as head coach at Ascension Episcopal.
Hudspeth had been serving as the wide receiver coach for the first six practices of the spring because of a last-minute staff change right before spring practice started up.
Shortly after national signing day, the Cajuns announced the hire of John Simon to coach wide receivers, a move that corresponded with the promotion of former receivers coach Jorge Munoz to offensive coordinator.
But less than a month after the Cajuns hired him, Simon, who spent last season as the running backs coach at Southern Mississippi, accepted a different position coaching running backs with Arizona State, leaving the Cajuns without a receivers coach for the first half of spring practice.
Hudspeth was still serving as the receivers coach at Monday’s practice, but Desormeaux was there to watch in an Ascension Episcopal pullover.
The university has not offered a timetable for when Desormeaux’s hire will become official.
The Cajuns will practice one more time on Wednesday before taking a week off for spring break.