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UL cornerback Eric Garror (19) shows off his skills in the punt return game during a practice earlier this week at Cajun Field.

UL sophomore cornerback Eric Garror may not have the perfect measurables, but the Mobile, Alabama native has sure been close enough to perfect for coach Billy Napier’s Ragin’ Cajuns so far.

Certainly, Garror would love to be pushing 6-foot-1 and maybe weigh around 200 pounds, but that’s not reality.

He’s listed at 5-9 and 180 pounds.

Whatever the size, Garror has made quite the impression in Cajun Country going into his second season.

“Eric played out of necessity (last year),” Napier said. “He had to grow up and he proved to be a really good competitor. He came from a great high school program where football was important.

“He’s from a good family. He’s a smart kid. He’s got character. He was a bit more mature than your typical freshman and he transitioned well, and certainly we’re excited to watch him compete this year too.”

In starting six of 11 games played as a true freshman, Garror proved he wasn’t scared with 22 tackles, two interceptions and four break-ups. He was one of only two players on the defense last season to record at least one sack, one interception and one pass breakup.

So while it may have checked off all the boxes in recruiting, Napier is certainly happy the Cajuns signed the McGill-Toolen High product.

“Our philosophy of evaluation is we want a certain set of criteria relative to size, speed, production and if they don’t fit the size and speed element, then OK, is the production really, really high?” Napier explained. “If we’re going compromise the size and speed, it’s going to be because the instincts, the intelligence, the character and most importantly the production.”

Two true freshmen signed this year — 5-9, 167-pound Amir McDaniel from Pensacola, Florida and 5-9, 165-pound Bobby Holmes of Spring, Texas — are similar to Garror. The Cajuns hope they’re both as good as Garror has displayed thus far.

“They’re both in that same category,” Napier said. “They’re not 6-foot-plus. They’re shorter, but super competitive, productive players with great instincts and great energy. They’re going to be very similar-type players to Eric as time goes.”

Two weeks into camp, Garror is the projected starter at both cornerback and punt returner.

“Fall camp is getting better,” Garror said. “I have improved in my skills. I’m doing better with the team, being more vocal and getting the playbook down.”

Garror’s biggest goal, however, is playing a key role to help the secondary improve overall.

“We’re more together with the safeties and the corners,” Garror said. “Everybody’s on the same page. Everybody’s doing the same thing.

“The secondary is always being challenged. They just want us to play and be ballers. We set a goal. We want to be one of the best secondaries in the Sun Belt.”

Always having to prove yourself over the years keeps complacency out of Garror’s mindset.

“I’m always going to have a chip on my shoulders, because everybody’s trying to get a spot,” Garror said. “Nobody has a guaranteed spot. Everybody’s competing and everybody’s getting better every day.”

Napier concurs, adding the competition for playing time will be stiffer this season.

“It is competitive in that room now,” he said. “You go have a bad couple of weeks and you might be watching.”

Garror hopes to be more physical with opposing wide receivers this season.

“It’s all about consistency,” Napier said. “He’s had a good offseason. He’s stronger, he’s got more physicality to his game. He’s going to tell you playing the ball and having a more thorough understanding of each and every concept that we run.”

Like with most players, the next step for Garror in Napier’s mind is leadership.

“I think the most important next step is leadership — taking ownership in that room and being the guy that sets the bar for how you go about your business as a person, as a student, in the community and certainly how you prepare, practice and compete on game day,” Napier said.

Garror returned punts in high school and has transferred those skills to the college game.

“I won’t say it’s natural for me,” Garror said. “I practice it a lot. It’s kind of fun to me. I did it in high school. I was pretty good at it in high school. Getting to the collegiate level, it’s get harder because you’ve got faster guys (covering) and the ball is higher in the air. It’s a tougher transition from high school to college, but it’s getting better.”

Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.