UL safety Bralen Trahan, center, works on his skills during a fall football practice at the Cajun Field on Wednesday in preparation for the Aug. 31 season opener against Mississippi State in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Like so many high school football stars over the year, UL redshirt sophomore Bralen Trahan did a little bit of everything in earning All-State honors with the Acadiana Wreckin’ Rams.

Then he finished up his high school career by earning Most Valuable Player recognition in the I-10 Bowl All-Star Game.

Consequently, Trahan arrived on the UL campus with big hopes only to quickly learn patience and more schooling were needed.

Two years into his college journey, the moment of truth might have finally arrived for Trahan.

“I’m healthier than ever right now,” said Trahan, whose freshman season was slowed by a shoulder injury. “Right now, this is actually my moment. This is my moment to show out and just be a good teammate.

“I’m caught up to the speed now. The speed from high school to college is much different. You’ve got to be on your Ps and Qs. I think I’ve caught up to it now and I’m ready to make plays.”

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Trahan missed all of last spring with the injury and was reduced to four games played. The new NCAA rule that now allows athletes to play four games and redshirt without losing a year of eligibility paid huge dividends for Trahan, who opened many eyes with a 63-yard interception return and forced fumble in the Cure Bowl loss to Tulane.

So far in preseason camp, Trahan continues to take full advantage of that momentum.

“I’ve been very impressed,” UL coach Billy Napier said. “He’s very instinctive. He’s got great range. He’s got a good football IQ. Maybe he’s not the best athlete — maybe he doesn’t have the best 40 time or the best vertical — but he’s very loose-hipped, fluid and he has instincts. I think his offseason has benefited him.”

Napier no longer sees the injured freshman having to learn a new system.

“Another year with (safeties) coach (Patrick) Toney and another year in the film room,” Napier said. “Certainly last year, he did not go through the entire offseason program or spring practice.

“So he’s a product of his work. For him to get out there and play four games was a big deal for him to give him some confidence. Certainly he’ll be an impact player for us as well.”

Like his teammates, Trahan has of learned Napier's new schemes.

“This year, we’re changing it up,” said Trahan, who has 12 career tackles, two interceptions, two pass breakups and one forced fumble. “We don’t have a free safety or weak safety. We have to learn both positions this year. All the guys that came back, we’ve learned the defense. We know it now.

“It wasn’t difficult, because coach Toney did a great job last year of coaching it and being specific about what you have in each position. So you played one, but you learned both.”

Convinced the defense has made the adjustment to the new concepts, when mistakes do happen, how the leaders handle the correction process will be a huge key to the unit’s success in Trahan’s mind.

“I think the next step is having leadership at the player level,” Trahan said. “When somebody messes up, tell them they did wrong. I think everybody knows their stuff. We just have to be better as a team of leadership and helping lead each other to a victory.”

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