If you stick around long enough, what was once old can become new again.
For Southern wide receiver Randall Menard, at least for one game, that was the case Saturday afternoon.
A sixth-year senior, Menard turned in his best game of the season in Southern’s 56-24 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. In the process, he flashed some of the skill that had Southern so excited after his freshman season in 2013 — and it came in the first quarter when the game was still in doubt.
Menard caught two touchdown passes, one for 28 yards and another for 57, to give the Jaguars a 21-6 lead. His 85 yards receiving and two scores were team highs — big production for the Breaux Bridge native who had five receptions for 48 yards coming into the game.
Menard suffered a broken leg against Alcorn State last season and, as a fifth-year senior, thought his playing career was over.
Since then, Menard has soaked in the experience of playing one last season for Southern.
“It felt great being able to play football again,” Menard said. “From my last injury, I had lost hope — but I just stayed prayed up, and God blessed me with another year. It felt great being able to play that way for my Jag family.”
Menard’s performance seems far removed from his coming-out performance, when he had three catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-38 overtime loss to Alcorn on Oct. 26, 2013.
Southern coach Dawson Odums wasn’t ready to call Menard’s performance against Arkansas-Pine Bluff a second debut.
“I wouldn’t say it's a coming-out party, but I’m happy for him that he had some success in his last home game,” Odums said. “He’s the elder statesman of the group. ... Six years is a long time and he knows what we’re about. I’m happy for him and I’m happy for his family.”
As the last remaining member of the 2013 team — the last at Southern to have won a Southwestern Athletic Conference championship — Menard’s role as a mentor has become more valuable as the Jaguars played themselves into contention for the title this season.
Menard caught four passes in Southern’s 34-27 win over Jackson State for the 2013 championship. Two were for third-down conversions, and another was on fourth down.
“(The broken leg) was a harder injury to recover from, but I just had to be patient,” Menard said. “The whole season I’ve been 100 percent, just playing my role and helping the younger guys.”
Saturday against the Golden Lions, that role expanded to showing the younger players that he could still make plays.
The first came four minutes into the game after Cesar Barajas recovered a fumbled kickoff. On the next play, Skelton found Menard open in the back of the end zone for a 28-yard TD, putting the Jaguars ahead 14-0.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff cut Southern’s lead to 14-6, but Southern responded with a five-play, 80-yard drive.
The clincher was Skelton’s 57-yard TD pass to Menard, who had worked himself free at the UAPB 40.
What Menard did after that impressed Odums as much as anything he did in the game.
“He hasn’t had the kind of year that he probably hoped for, but he came to me, he took himself out of the game and another guy got in and had a chance to score a touchdown,” Odums said. “He tells me, ‘I’m a team player.’ That’s the kind of growth you want to see in your guys as a coach. That’s why I’m happy for him.”