ACA.ulfootball8.020620

UL wide receivers coach Tim Leger is thrilled with the new talent added to his room during the 2020 signing class, led by 6-2, 212-pound Kyren Lacy of Thibodaux.

Soon all the excitement and superlatives associated with national signing day will be gone.

Then real football begins.

At that point, the praise from the coaching staff through the recruiting process suddenly transforms into something a lot more demanding.

So which one of the 19 newcomers in UL’s 2020 signing class is most likely to make an immediate impact?

Your guess is as good as UL coach Billy Napier's.

“I think they’re all developmental projects,” Napier said. “I think everyone of them is far from being ready to play. There’s a lot of work and a lot of teaching to be done. A lot of growing up to do.

“Sometimes over the years, I think you try to guess which ones can contribute and which ones will be redshirts and all that. But I think we’ve been wrong just as much as we’ve been right. A lot of it is going to do with what these guys do from today until the day they show up here.”

Case in point: O’Cyrus Torrence, now a sophomore left guard.

“Nobody guessed that O’Cyrus Torrence would come in here and do what he did last year as a freshman,” Napier said. “I can promise you, nobody saw that coming. And there probably was a freshman that we thought would make a tremendous impact that didn’t play a down.

“Those are all just theories right now. It’s going to be more about doing the work that’s in front of them.”

Essentially, Torrence finished out this senior season at St. Helena Central studying and conditioning.

“We send them a workout manual and we send them a packet that has all your zone calls and gap calls and pass protection calls,” UL offensive coordinator Rob Sale said. “And we send them an install video that has voiceover — the base of what we do. O’Cyrus was a guy who took his workout manual and did everything to a T. He crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every single ‘i,’ so he came in in condition.”

Instead of just glancing at all those documents, apparently Torrence studied them as if it was a final exam he had to ace to pass the class. Of course, being in tip-top physical shape doesn’t guarantee immediate playing time, but it’s a big first step.

“Half the time when guys come in here, being an O-lineman or a D-lineman, they’re coming in overweight,” Sale explained. “They don’t know how serious the running is. He came in in shape, so he was able to concentrate on his craft and learning the offense.”

In Sale’s mind, the offensive line is the toughest position to play right away, but when expected starting left guard Ken Marks went down for the season in the season opener, Torrence was incredibly ready to step in and perform.

“I think maybe he had a chance when we went to his high school and just talked to him and communicated with him in person, but he has football instinct that you shouldn’t really have for a freshman,” Sale said. “There’s a couple guys who have been here two or three years and I’m trying to get that into them. He’s a special kid. He is kind of the bookmark.”

If rankings mean anything, the best guess in this class may be Thibodaux wide receiver Kyren Lacy, who was ranked as high as No. 12 in the state by 247Sports.

“He’s a special guy — 6-2½, 212 pounds,” UL wide receivers coach Tim Leger said. “He can really run, he’s explosive, he’s twitchy. He had always been a basketball player. He was starting to figure out football as a junior and then really exploded as a senior. That’s when you saw the Virginias and the Mississippi States and the Miamis and everybody come in.”

With the loss of top target Ja’Marcus Bradley, there may not be a position more suitable for an immediate impact newcomer ... somewhat like true freshman Peter LeBlanc did a year ago.

Other guesses could be one of the four high school signees that will be in school on UL’s campus for the remainder of this spring semester.

That list includes: wide receiver Reginald Johnson of Southern Lab in Baton Rouge, tight end Christian Sabatini from Plano, Texas, cornerback Dabari Hawkins from Missouri City, Texas and running back Andray Pope from Evergreen, Ala.

“The big thing here is all of these guys fit the criteria,” Napier said. “We feel real good about the character of the group. They’re be here soon and find out what they’re about when they get here.

“There may be a guy on this list here that’s not very well thought of that we may think he’s the best player in the class. I think the big part of this job that our staff has done a good job of is evaluating and having the ability to communicate with each other and be objective.”

2020 UL Signing Class

WR Reginald Johnson, 6-0, 178, Southern Lab

DE Mason Narcisse, 6-2, 310, St. Charles

DE Jordan Lawson, 6-3, 270, Brandon, Miss.

CB Caleb Anderson, 6-2, 185, East Feliciana

RB Emani Bailey, 5-9, 200, Ryan-Denton, Texas

RB Andray Pope, 6-0, 200, Hillcrest-Evergreen, Ala.

WR Kyren Lacy, 6-3, 207, Thibodaux

CB Courtline Flowers, 6-1, 207, South Oak Cliff-Dallas, Texas

WR  Dontae Fleming, 6-0, 165, East St. John

OG  Corey Marshall, 6-3, 332, Northwood-Shreveport

CB Trey Amos, 6-0, 173, Catholic-New Iberia

OG  Jack McKenzie, 6-4, 285, Parklane Academy-McComb, Miss.

DT Dominique Ratcliff, 6-2, 266, Conroe, Texas

WR  Errol Rogers, 5-11, 185, Lafayette Christian

LB  Ahmad Johnson, 6-1, 210, Pelahatchie, Miss.

CB Dabari Hawkins, 6-2, 185, Stafford, Texas

DB Tyree Skipper, 185, Sophie B. Wright-New Orleans

TE  Christian Sabatini, 6-2, 239, Plano, Texas

DT  Sonny Hazard, 6-0, 296, Jesuit-New Orleans

Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.