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UL linebacker Kris Moncrief (6) has provided consistent play as a pass rusher and a run stopper for the Cajuns' defense all season.

He might play a completely different position, but in the mind of UL sophomore outside linebacker Kris Moncrief, there’s no minimizing the impact first cousin NFL wide receiver Donte Moncrief has had on his career.

In fact, Moncrief said he talks to the six-year pro from Ole Miss, currently with the Pittsburgh Steelers, on a daily basis.

“I talk to him every day,” Moncrief said. “He’s like a brother to me. He teaches me basically everything from the Bible to football, he just teaches me. He’s a role model.”

The example of his first cousin’s work ethic required to reach the NFL has inspired him.

“I see his work ethic and I say every day that I want to be like him,” Moncrief said. “He’s got a work ethic like I’ve never seen before. It’s ridiculous. You wouldn’t believe how much work he puts in every day to be the best.”

So far this season, Moncrief has gone from a perceived backup to Joe Dillon in the preseason to a regular starter each week. In five games, Moncrief has collected 14 tackles, three stops behind the line, two sacks and two quarterback hurries.

In addition to his NFL cousin, Moncrief said his high school days as a running back have helped his production.

“It helps out a lot,” Moncrief said. “Coming from high school playing running back, it helps out a lot. I never thought it would, but it helps. Just the cutting — all the cutting. You can tell when a running back’s about to cut, you know where he’s about to go.

“It’s a whole mind game. You would have never thought it would fold over like that — transition like that — but it has.”

Manac day-to-day

Especially coming off an extended week off, the health situation is about as good as can be expected for UL Ragin’ Cajuns heading into Wednesday’s long-await matchup with Appalachian State at Cajun Field.

Other than the four already out for the season — Tanner Wiggins, Cole Prudhomme, Ken Marks and Johnny Lumpkin — the only other two Cajuns on the injury report released Monday were defensive linemen Sammy Ochoa and Chauncey Manac.

Manac, a 6-foot-3, 252-pound redshirt junior end, has been out since suffering a “upper body” injury at Ohio. He’s currently listed as day-to-day.

“Chauncey impacts every game that he plays in, he has participated in the last two days in practice and is getting better every day,” Napier said. “I think it’s more of a comfort level with him than maybe his healthy, he’s got to develop some confidence that he’s back and he’s ready and prepared to play.

“We’ll test him even more today, and hopefully ramp him up and create that confidence as we get closer to the game. But any game with Manac is better than a game without him, I would say that.”

Another Lewis fan

It’s nothing new for UL junior quarterback Levi Lewis to receive praise from one of his coaches or teammates.

Add junior center Shane Vallot to that list.

In his first season as UL’s starting center, the former Comeaux High standout has forged a productive relationship with his junior quarterback.

“It’s getting even better,” Vallot said. “Now me and Levi, he knows where my snaps are going to be. We communicate on passing downs. He knows I can check to something else, or he can check to something else. It’s kind of a cool deal, because me and Levi are really close. It’s a good thing.”

Through the process, Vallot’s respect and admiration for Lewis’ play has steadily improved.

“I personally think that Levi is the best quarterback in the Sun Belt Conference, not just because he’s my player,” Vallot said. “The guy is a freak too. He does some stuff that I’ve never seen a quarterback do. He’s small now, but don’t let that size fool you.

“Each week, he improves from throwing the ball to reading certain guys, knowing when to pull the ball. He’s improved every single week.”

Kicking update

After missing four of his first five field-goal attempts, senior placekicker Stevie Artigue was given some competition in the last game at Georgia Southern.

Two days before taking on Appalachian State, UL coach Billy Napier said Artigue and redshirt freshman Kenny Almendares will alternate extra points and split field-goal attempts.

But the situation is a fluid one and the staff’s decision could change by game time.

“We’re still evaluating it, and certainly we’ll continue to evaluate that all the way up until the game," Napier said Monday. "But as of now we will be sticking with that plan, but that plan could change relative to how they perform all the way up until kickoff.”

Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.