LAFAYETTE —Spring football has arrived for the Louisiana-Lafayette football team, and so has excitement among the players to get back on the field.
“It was great out there today,” linebacker Tracy Walker said Tuesday. “The energy was there on both sides of the ball. The first day you are going to have some mistakes, but overall the energy was there and we got better as the day went.”
That feeling was shared on the other side of the ball.
“I am excited about our young guys adjusting to our new offense,” receiver Al Riles said. “I got a glimpse today seeing who is going to help us out this fall and who is going to be out there with me making plays.”
Coach Mark Hudspeth, entering his sixth season at the helm, expressed his excitement as well.
“The kids came out really excited,” he said. “I thought we had some phenomenal efforts, great attitudes and it was even fun. It was great for everybody to just get back out on the grass.”
As expected, Tuesday’s first practice had an emphasis on speed.
“We always try to practice fast,” Hudspeth said. “We try to get a lot of repetitions.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns return to practice Thursday with an afternoon workout.
Walker embraces change
After Tracy Walker started 18 games at safety in the past two seasons, the Cajuns coaching staff asked him to move to linebacker. Walker had no hesitation about making the switch.
“I was like, if that is going to help me make more plays for this team, then that is what I am going to do,” Walker said.
So, how has the transition been for the now-former defensive back who had 118 tackles and 12 deflections in the past two seasons?
“It’s been easy coming from the safety position, because I already had to know everybody else’s positions,” Walker said. “That has made it a lot easier, but I still have to get better. I still have to perfect playing linebacker. For me to truly get better, I have to know the ins and outs of this position.”
To learn those ins and outs, Walker has spent the past few months studying tape — in particular tape of former Cajuns linebacker Dominique Tovell.
“I watched everything he did last season,” Walker said. “He is a great player and one of the best to have come through here. I want to follow in his footsteps.”
Twice as nice
The Cajuns have an open competition between two inexperienced signal-callers: Sophomore Jordan Davis and redshirt freshman Chris Weaver will be taking snaps throughout the spring.
For Riles, who is entering his senior season, he has no problem catching balls from two quarterbacks. Riles did just that last season when Brooks Haack and Jalen Nixon shared QB duties.
“It is basically repetition for me, because it is the same thing that we had last year with Brooks and Jalen,” Riles said. “I am just trying to build a great relationship with the both of them and let them know that we are behind them.”
Riles also is looking to build his leadership skills.
“We have such a young team,” said Riles, who had career highs in receptions (46), yards (477) and touchdowns (four) last season. “It’s not about just my position anymore. It’s about every position.”