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UL coach Billy Napier welcomed back the 2021 football team Thursday one day before the actual start of August camp on Friday./

Leader

For the past three years, there hasn’t been a doubt who UL’s team leader is — super senior quarterback Levi Lewis. “Levi’s always kind of been the guy,” UL coach Billy Napier said. “He’s been the Alpha for a long time.” While his leadership may be the same, expect Lewis the quarterback to put up better numbers this season with more experience around him.

Key issue

Unlike many teams these days, UL’s offense is centered on a power rushing attack. With Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas now in the NFL, who will carry the load in 2020? The only experienced running back returning is redshirt sophomore Chris Smith, but freshman Emani Bailey is back after getting 10 carries last season. Special teams star T.J. Wisham joins a talented freshman class as well.

Breakout player

There are multiple options, but the best bet is freshman running back Emani Bailey. UL coach Billy Napier raves about his attention to detail and the Denton, Texas, native is determined to prove his worth as a workhorse back, despite his 5-foot-8, 201-pound frame.

Outlook

The primary reason UL earned a No. 23 preseason ranking in both major polls is how experienced and talented its depth chart is. The Cajuns only lost one starter on defense. Offensively, there are starters returning at every position except for running back. Even the kicker, kickoff specialist and punter return.

Prediction

Last year, the Cajuns were 10-1 and finished No. 15 in the final AP poll. But because of Coastal Carolina’s COVID-19 issue, UL was denied the opportunity to play in the Sun Belt title game. On paper, the Cajuns simply appear too talented to lose more than two games. Texas, Appalachian State and Liberty are the most likely setbacks. Let’s go with 11-1.


Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.