home sitesearch sitemap contact fan about
  Submit/Update Profile  

Search the Network:

Football: Ex-UL lineman Decoster now coaching at Nevada

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, December 15, 2014



Jonathan Decoster, from left, is pictured at UL’s 2009 media day along with offensive line colleagues Ian Burke, Chris Fisher, Brad Bustle and Kyle Pirtle. Decoster will be coaching at Nevada against his former team on Saturday in the New Orleans Bowl. (Photo: Advertiser File Photo)



Back in July, he remembers retweeting an entry announcing that the 2014 New Orleans Bowl would likely square off a team from the Sun Belt and a team from the Mountain West.

It was so early in the process that Jonathan Decoster couldn’t exactly celebrate, but he did file the idea somewhere in the back of his mind.

Could it actually happen?

How cool would that be?

You see, Decoster had direct ties to two of the teams potentially involved in that equation.

The Miramir, Fla. native is currently a graduate assistant coach for the Nevada Wolf Pack of the Mountain West and he played four years of college football for the UL Ragin’ Cajuns of the Sun Belt from 2007-2010.

So when the New Orleans Bowl made it official on Dec. 7 that it was matching Nevada and UL in the Superdome on Saturday, Decoster was elated to hear the news.

"I remember when I first heard during the summer that a Mountain West team was going to the New Orleans, I thought to myself, ‘That definitely would be a treat,’ " said Decoster, who said that he attended UL’s first two New Orleans Bowl games as a fan. "My first preference would have been to win the conference championship and going bigger (like MWC champion Boise State did going to Fiesta Bowl).

"But if that didn’t happen, this is where I wanted to go. Now I’ve been on both sides. I’ve been a fan rooting for UL and now I’m going to be a coach playing against UL."

The reasons for Decoster go even deeper than football allegiances.

After graduating in management information systems at UL in December of 2010, Decoster worked in Baton Rouge as an IT project manager.

"It’s not that it was a bad job," explained the 6-3, 310-pound former offensive tackle.

Decoster said he just sort of felt like Bob Parr in the movie ‘The Incredibles.’ In the animated film, Parr was a bored office worker after being forced into retirement as a superhero.

"Being that 300-pound IT guy just didn’t work for me," Decoster laughed. "I had to give it a shot.

"I missed ball. I really wanted to coach."

So one day in the offseason prior to the 2013 season, he called up a buddy of his – former UL offensive line colleague Brad Bustle, who was a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech at the time – and relayed how much he missed football.

Without Decoster even knowing, Bustle, who is now coaching the offensive line at Cumberland University in Tennessee, contacted their old Cajuns’ offensive line coach, Ron Hudson, who had recently taken the job as the offensive line coach at Nevada.

"When we recruited John out of Florida, he wasn’t a world-class athlete, but he was a world-class person," Hudson said. "He made himself a good player through hard work. I told (Nevada) coach (Brian) Polian that he had great character and that he would work his tail off. John has great work ethic. He’s done a great job for us."

Eventually, Decoster decided to accept Hudson’s offer. He dropped everything he had going for him in Baton Rouge and headed west to pursue his football dreams.

"I’m definitely serious about this football thing," Decoster said. "I sacrificed a lot. It was a really tough decision."

Really making it an agonizing choice was that Decoster left behind his girlfriend – Amber Trahan of New Iberia – in the Baton Rouge area.

Since he left, the couple sees each other during the summer prior to the season, during the two bye weeks and holiday breaks like Mardi Gras and Christmas.

In fact, this past Easter holiday with Lake Tahoe in the background, Decoster proposed and the became engaged. Still, he worked in Reno and she remains a teacher in Zachary.

"It’s going to be that way until I’m not a G.A. anymore," said Decoster, who said it’s unclear where he’ll be next fall.

Consequently, no one is more excited about Nevada being invited to the New Orleans Bowl than Amber.

"It’s going to be an exciting time for us," Decoster said. "It’s been tough."

As much of a strain as a long-distance relationship is on a young couple, Decoster has also enjoyed some aspects of his westward move.

"Before this, I think Nebraska was probably the farthest west I had ever been. I’m a city guy," he said. "It’s definitely different. But I can certainly appreciate Lake Tahoe being 30 minutes away from here."

Decoster even took advantage of being out West recently and visited former UL teammate Jordan Topp in San Diego.

In Decoster’s mind, there’s a certainly irony that goes along with playing against the Cajuns in a bowl game. The 6-3, 210-pound, three-year starter at offensive tackle at UL was in the 2006 recruiting class. In 2005, the Cajuns went 5-2 in Sun Belt play and tied Arkansas State for the league title.

(For the record, Arkansas State won the head-to-head meeting 39-36 and went to the New Orleans Bowl at Cajun Field that year due to Hurricane Katrina.)

In the years Decoster played, the Cajuns went 3-9, 6-6, 6-6 and 3-9. The year after his eligibility ran out in 2010, UL went to its first bowl game since 1970.

"My last year, we went 3-9," Decoster said. "That’s a tough way to end your football career."

"I was caught in the middle," Decoster said. "It just didn’t quite work out for us."

Perhaps so, but Decoster’s group certainly put up some awfully good numbers along the way. Part of an offensive line that blocked for the school’s all-time leading rusher in Tyrell Fenroy, as well as quarterback Michael Desormeaux, Jason Chery and LaDarius Green.

"We had some tremendous players," Decoster said. "I also played with Melvin White and Bill Bentley."

While Nevada’s pistol offense is slightly different, Decoster sees a strong similarity between Nevada quarterback Fajardo, who has thrown for 9,535 yards and rushed for 3,433 yards in his career, and Desormeaux, who threw for 3,893 and ran for 2,843.

He also sees Saturday’s matchup as one between two teams "that are mirror images of each other."

Frankly, however, Decoster’s old UL stories weren’t real welcomed this past week in Reno. In fact, Decoster said he’s still got a UL sticker on his windshields.

"All the GAs (graduate assistants) have been giving me a hard time about taking it off," he laughed. "But it’s been fun. It’s all in good fun."