Last season, first-year UL strength and conditioning coach Mark Hocke was asked in his first spring press conference who the strongest guy on the team was.
Like most coaches, he fought hard to not single out one player over others … with good success.
In his first news conference in his second season on Tuesday, Hocke was asked the same question again, and again he responding with coach-speak in an attempt to avoid giving one name.
Going into his second season as UL’s football coach, Billy Napier still isn’t completely satisfied with his roster.
This time, though, he wasn’t nearly as successful.
He just couldn’t deny that the strongest player is 6-4, 315-pound senior guard Kevin Dotson from Plaquemine.
“This guy can lift a house,” Hocke said. “He’s as strong as can be.”
Hocke went even farther with it this time around.
“If I had to just pick one guy, (Dotson is) not only the first guy I’m bringing to a rack, but he’s the first guy I’m bringing to a fistfight,” Hocke said. “He’s the first guy I’m bringing to a battle. There’s no secret: It’s all about the numbers and the flash, but I’m a firm believer the game is won in the trenches. Kevin knows that, the O-line and D-line knows that. He’d bring a good candidate to bring.”
The other area drawing a lot of praise is the running back room.
“But you can’t forget about backs like Elijah Mitchell, Trey Ragas or even a Jordan Cordova or a some DBs or pound-for-pound receivers who are just strong, and it’s impressive what they do as a whole,” Hocke said.
It all makes perfect sense, especially if you’re used to coach-speak.
Running back Raymond Calais said don’t forget about sophomore running back T.J. Wisham from Episcopal in Baton Rouge.
“That guy can squat a house,” Calais said.
Minor setback for Ragas
There’s no question the stars of coach Billy Napier’s first season as UL coach was the running back trio of Ragas, Mitchell and Calais.
The battering ram of that trio is enduring a minor health obstacle early on in this spring season.
“Trey Ragas is going to have to get his knee scoped, little bit of a minor issue with his knee,” Napier said after practice Thursday, “but we anticipate that, you know, a pretty quick recovery for that so we may actually end up getting him back in the spring at some point, but something we need to go ahead and get cleaned up.”
Wanted: Offensive-minded DBs
While the success story of Michael Jacquet’s move from high school quarterback to college receiver now to standout college cornerback may appear to be unique, Napier is hoping it soon becomes a trend.
In his mind, defensive backs that played offense in high school have an extra edge once moving to the secondary.
UL cornerback Michael Jacquet admitted that even halfway into his 2018 season, he wasn’t sure that making the switch from wide receiver was th…
“In my experience, the better defensive backs we had at Alabama, all had an offensive background in high school, whether that was quarterback, running back, receiver … two-way players,” Napier said. “Sometimes the guys who struggled were just defensive players and that put a little bit of a limit on how good they could be.”
Even RBs can improve
No coach wants his players to stop striving to get better, even if it’s the most talented and proven unit on the entire team.
So don’t expect Napier to stop pushing his returning running back corps to hopefully great heights.
“It’s going to be about those guys not getting complacent, understanding they can improve, understanding that there is another level out there and really working hard to get in a position where we can take over the game and dominate the line of scrimmage,” Napier said.
UL quarterback Levi Lewis has big plans for his junior season.
The next level in Napier’s mind also involves the opponent.
“I think the big thing for us is going to be rushing the ball well against the really good teams,” he said.
“It really starts upfront. If they’re working five as one, we’ll have a chance on almost every play.”