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UL senior linebackers Jacques Boudreaux (59) and Ferrod Gardner (7) have established themselves as the senior leader of the defense for the Ragin' Cajuns this season.

Former Catholic High of New Iberia standout Peter LeBlanc has four receptions in two games so far this season and all signs point toward the freshman receiver not redshirting this season.

“We’ve committed to playing Peter,” UL coach Billy Napier said. “We’re going full speed with him. With that room being a little nicked up here and there, he’s really emerged as a guy that’s dependable.”

Napier also hinted that another freshman receiver could be making his mark soon in former E.D. White quarterback Brandon Legendre.

“Another guy that’s making significant progress is Brandon Legendre,” Napier said. “This week in particular starting on Sunday, you started to see it click a little bit with him. He didn’t have an extensive history as a receiver. He was more of a high school quarterback, wildcat, returner.

“So the detail, the precision, all the technical things that go with playing that position has been part of his development, but it’s starting to click there. I like what I’m seeing out of him. He’s got his legs back and he’s starting to play fast.”

Meanwhile, senior Jarrod Jackson remains without a catch through two games. An illness kept him out of lineup in the opener, and he didn’t catch a pass against Liberty.

“No, I’ve got no worries at all,” Napier said. “It’s unfortunate for him. I know he felt like he was disappointing his teammates, but he couldn’t control it. But he’s had a really good week of practice this week and I think we’ll see him have more production as we go on.”

Rising up depth chart

There were a few new names listed on the Week 3 depth chart for the Cajuns heading into Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. home game against Texas Southern.

In addition to LeBlanc on offense, the new names on defense — all reserves — are true freshman defensive lineman Dalvin Hutchinson, star nickelback Kam Pedescleaux and junior cornerback Daijuane Dorsey.

“Dorsey has competed and gotten himself in that spot,” Napier said. “He’s beaten some of the guys out. He’s earned that opportunity. Certainly we like what we’ve seen from Dalvin Hutchinson. He’s in the mix now.”

Pedescleaux, a redshirt freshman, was credited with two tackles and a pass breakup in Saturday’s win over Liberty.

“Cam Pedescleaux, if you watched that game Saturday, it would be hard to not notice him,” Napier said. “He made several plays in the game. He’s a walk-on that has emerged. Back in spring practice, he’s a guy paying his own way here and he’s in a room full of scholarship players, but all the guy does is do his job.

“He’s a very productive player, very attentive, very detailed and he’s been very competitive. Really, he came here and started at the bottom and now he’s in a position to play and contribute.”

Backup QB sighting

It was only for one drive, but redshirt sophomore backup quarterback Jai’ave Magalei did get his feet wet at the Division I level in Saturday’s 35-14 win over Liberty.

Magalei completed 1 of 2 passes for 7 yards.

If nothing else, Napier said he learned he’s capable of filling in if needed.

“Just that he can do it,” Napier said of what he got out of Magalei’s short outing. “He went out there and operated well. He didn’t have any major flaws or issues, which is good for him. He got hit a few times. That first time, I’m know that probably was in the back of his head.

“You’ve got to remember, the last college snap the guy played, he got a major injury. So for him to get out there and get broken in a little bit was good for him.”

Linebacker upgrade

Entering Napier’s first season, one of the biggest concerns about the team was the seeming lack of depth at linebacker.

A year later, the circumstances have changed, at least at insider linebacker.

Senior Jacques Boudreaux and Ferrod Gardner are entrenched as defensive leaders.

“The two seniors are absolutely light years ahead of where they were last year at this point,” Napier said. “Second year in the system, second year in our year-around plan for development – not only on the field and in the weight room with nutrition and bigger, faster, stronger, but also sharper.

“They’ve gotten smarter and more comfortable with formation, identification, backfield set, what is this run concept called, what are these pass patterns called.”

Boudreaux currently leads the defense with 12 tackles, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry, while Gardner has seven tackles and a quarterback hurry.

Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.