Summer is over for the Ragin’ Cajuns football team.
One hundred and five players received all their gear for the upcoming season, set up their lockers and ate their first team meal Sunday. Three weeks of fall camp begin Monday.
“Our players reported with a lot of energy and are very eager to get to work,” University of Louisiana at Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth said in a news release. “They’ve had a great summer, and their bodies look like they’re in great physical condition.
“Our coaches are just as excited to get started on Monday.”
Practice begins at 8:55 a.m. Monday, with first- and second-string players being the first to take the practice field. The third- and fourth-string players will practice in the afternoon after the Media Day.
The Cajuns will practice six days a week for the next three weeks before throttling down for game-week preparations. They will go through their first practice in full pads Friday.
After three consecutive 9-4 seasons and New Orleans Bowl championships, UL-Lafayette is the odds-on favorite to repeat as Sun Belt Conference champions.
The Cajuns return seven starters on both offense and defense, including senior quarterback Terrance Broadway, the SBC preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Broadway threw for more than 2,400 yards a year ago despite missing time late in the year with a broken arm.
Broadway will have plenty of weapons at his disposal, including preseason All-SBC first-team picks in wide receiver Jamal Robinson and running backs Alonzo Harris and Eljah McGuire. Left tackle Mykhael Quave is also a preseason first-team pick. With the exception of McGuire, all of the aforementioned players are on preseason watch lists for major national awards.
Defensively, the Cajuns return a preseason All-SBC first-teamer in every area, including defensive tackle Justin Hamilton, linebacker Dominique Tovell and safety Trevence Pratt.
But the most important returner might be the one the Cajuns lost briefly.
Defensive coordinator James Willis is back for his second season after nearly leaving for a job as Florida State’s linebackers coach. Willis went as far as telling Hudspeth and his defensive players that he had accepted the Florida State job this offseason. But Willis had a change of heart overnight and decided to stay on at UL-Lafayette.
RCAF fund breacks record
With five months remaining in the year, the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletics Foundation already broke an annual fundraising record, according to a news release.
This is the sixth consecutive year the RCAF has set a fundraising record. The success enjoyed by several of the Cajuns athletic teams led to a huge spike in unrestricted donations. The annual fund reached $1.76 million, breaking last year’s record mark of $1.67 million.
Unrestricted donations go to the general fund and can be used for any purpose.