UL cornerback Michael Jacquet III barks out orders during a Ragin' Cajuns football practice at the Moncla Indoor Practice Facility on Tuesday.

For the record, most of us have been mispronouncing his name over his four seasons in Cajun Country.

But while hearing his name said properly would be nice, what UL cornerback Michael Jacquet III wants most for his senior season is for the Ragin' Cajuns to pile up wins.

Either way, Jacquet — pronounced ‘Juh-kwet’ as opposed to ‘jah-ket’ like it normally is in these parts — certainly has big plans for his final year of eligibility.

A year ago, the former high school quarterback and college wide receiver made the third significant position change of his career with a big leap to cornerback.

It was a major shift for the Beaumont, Texas, native, who had never played a down of defense in his life before last season.

“Last year definitely was a learning experience,” Jacquet said. “I didn’t feel like I was actually a corner until Week 9, Week 10 into the season. I felt like I was playing off straight athleticism and just being a football player.”

Imagine the chore facing the cousin of former NBA player Rashard Lewis. Not only was he adjusting to the defensive side of the ball, but that transition was taking place under a new coaching staff.

In effect, many players in coordinator Ron Roberts' defense felt like they were learning a new position for most of last season.

“Definitely,” Jacquet said. “We still had the potential last year. We were just trying to learn the schemes. Everybody was playing a step slower. Now that everybody is doing exactly what they need to do and exactly what coach Roberts wants, we’re playing a step faster.

“So everybody is playing like themselves now; what got them to this point, that’s what they’re doing now.”

Apparently, Jacquet held his own at cornerback. The league’s coaches recognized him as a second-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection.

“Now the coaches trust me to work on my fundamentals in the offseason,” Jacquet said. “I just continue to work on the small things, because everything works together.”

The biggest obstacle was dealing with the physical side of playing defense.

“That’s something I definitely had to adjust to,” Jacquet said. “Coming from receiver, receivers are pretty boys. They don’t really want to get their face dirty. Then I originally played quarterback, so I really didn’t know anything about physical contact.

“So moving over to the defensive side of the ball, at first I didn’t really know what to expect. I was really banged up after a couple of games, because it was taking a physical toll on me. But throughout the season, my body adjusts to it pretty well.”

In 14 games last year, the 6-2, 201-pounder, who caught 46 passes for 494 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons at receiver for the Cajuns, collected 47 tackles, two interceptions and 11 pass breakups as a junior.

“I thought there would be way more technique to it,” Jacquet said. “There’s obviously a lot of technique to corner, but once you’re a football player, you’re a football player. An athlete is always an athlete. It’s just about taking the time in the offseason to put the work in and do what you need to do to become a better player at that position.”

Napier sees Jacquet's increased understanding of his position so far during August camp. Now it’s a matter of seeing the big picture defensively.

“Certainly, I’ve seen him play more effective consistent football at corner so far,” Napier said. “I think there are still some inconsistencies there. I think there are some things relative to the discipline that goes with that position, eye control, the fundamentals. Conceptually knowing where he fits within each concept that we’re playing on defense.”

Few in the program would be surprised if Jacquet takes another big step forward this season.

“The guy is tall, he’s long, he’s fast — a former quarterback, a former receiver — I think he’s got some instincts,” Napier said. “He certainly has some ball skills to make a play on the ball. You can’t coach the height, length and speed that he has, and to go with that, I think he’s a bright kid (graduated 38th out of a class of 417 at Central High in Beaumont).

“I think the big thing for him is consistency in performance, learning how to be an elite competitor. Push yourself, get out of your comfort zone and develop that toughness that’s required with playing defense, which is a little bit more of a physical approach up there.”

And if that progress becomes a big enough step forward, Jacquet has plans of taking his best shot at an NFL career.

“I wouldn’t say I wish I made the transition earlier, because God does things at the right time,” Jacquet said. “So I felt like it was the perfect time for him to move me over to corner. Two years of experience at the corner position before I take my wares into the NFL.

“If you’re not thinking about the NFL, then what are you thinking about? If you’re not trying to be the best, then what’s your purpose of playing?”

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