Until a few weeks ago, Rhett Guidry of The Dunham School in Baton Rouge was planning on making a big move to South Carolina later this summer.
Just recently turning 18, the two-way high school standout had made known his plan to attend Palmetto Prep School there and then become a part of the 2021 recruiting class.
In fact, Pittsburgh and Akron had already made him early offers for that period as a tight end.
But the UL Ragin’ Cajuns had other ideas, surprising Guidry with a tight end offer of their own for this year’s class … and it worked.
“I had moved on mentally, so when they (Cajuns) offered me, it came as a bombshell to me,” said Guidry, who verbally committed to the Cajuns on Sunday.
So Guidry took a few days to consider this major shift in his plans. He took the virtual tour of UL’s facilities and decided to pull the trigger.
During the back-and-forth sessions with his family, the uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus worked in the Cajuns’ favor.
“Because of all the uncertainty about next season and how everything was going to play out, I decided the best bet was to take this scholarship,” the 6-5, 225-pound Guidry said.
“Postgraduate football isn’t too much of an importance (nationwide), so I figured that would be the first to go if they decided to take away football. I just wanted to play. I was just looking for some place to get on the field and UL was a great place for that.”
UL’s troubles with the tight end position throughout the 2019 season also played a role in Guidry’s decision. Johnny Lumpkin suffered a season-ending injury last August and Chase Rogers transferred to Ole Miss. Nick Ralston’s one year as a graduate transfer is over.
“Their needs at that position, that played into it as well,” Guidry said. “I figured I had the ability to fill that void.”
There was also some familiarity between UL offensive coordinator Rob Sale and Dunham head coach Dale Weiner. The two worked together at Catholic High of Pointe Coupee in 2006.
“By some standards, he could have played another year of high school football,” Weiner said. “He’s got a lot of toughness. He’s a real scrapper and fighter. He’s played through some pain and injury. He didn’t come off the field much for us.
"I just think his character and what he’s made up makes him a great fit for coach (Billy) Napier and his staff. They use at least one tight end on just about every play and a lot of times they use two tight ends.”
Guidry played quarterback at times during his high school career. He primarily played defensive end and tight end last season for Dunham, earning All-District MVP honors after collecting 49.5 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, seven hurries and three forced fumbles.
Weiner still laments the unfortunate break of Guidry taking a helmet-to-helmet hit early in the semifinals loss at LCA this past fall that forced him to miss the remainder of the game.
Dunham’s base offense was typically a four-receiver set with limited tight end usage. Guidry played some H-back as well. Guidry played slot receiver at times and made three touchdown catches on the season.
When recruited by the Cajuns before his late-fall decision to go to a prep school, Guidry was told he could be a walk-on, but that things could always change.
“Well, things did change,” Weiner said, “so they called him and it worked out.”
Guidry said the new plan is to join UL’s program shortly after the July 4 holiday. He’s convinced he’s ready physically to compete thanks to his family building a workout station in his back yard to continue conditioning during the coronavirus shutdown.
“I’ve stayed in shape pretty well and I’m fired up to get going,” he insisted.