Football: Cajuns DC Ron Roberts headed to Baylor; likely replacements identified + All Stars & Super
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Jan. 22, 2020
Defensive coordinator Ron Roberts is leaving UL after two seasons.
Roberts will be named the new defensive coordinator at Baylor, he said Tuesday morning.
Safeties coach Patrick Toney is "likely" to be promoted and become the Ragin’ Cajuns’ new defensive coordinator, according to a source close to the UL program.
A Cajuns spokesman, however, could not confirm a Fox Sports report Tuesday that UL will hire Georgia defensive quality control coach Austin Armstrong to replace Roberts as the program's inside linebackers coach.
"I want (to) thank Coach (Billy) Napier for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the program," Roberts told The Daily Advertiser via direct message on Twitter. "The players and staff there are tremendous and it is (because) of them that I was given this opportunity and for that I am eternally grateful!"
Under Roberts’ watch, the Cajuns went from 105th in points per game permitted (34.2) in 2018 to 18th in scoring defense this past season at just 19.70 allowed.
"We are extremely grateful for Coach Roberts and the contributions he made to our football organization," Napier said in a statement posted on Twitter. "Under Ron's leadership, our defense made tremendous progress this past season, ranking as one of the most improved defensive units in the nation."
Napier did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
Defensive coordinator Ron Roberts is leaving UL, reportedly for Baylor. (Photo: Advertiser file photo)
UL has won back-to-back Sun Belt Conference West Division championships the past two years and finished 11-3 in the recently completed 2019 season, when earlier this month it beat Miami (Ohio) 27-17 at the LendingTree Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
Roberts came to UL after spending six seasons as head coach at FCS Southland Conference-member Southeastern Louisiana, where he compiled a 42-29 record.
Prior to that, the California native spent five seasons as head coach at NCAA Division II member Delta State.
Roberts’ co-defensive coordinator in his first season at Delta State, 2007, was Dave Aranda, the former LSU defensive coordinator recently named head coach at Baylor.
Aranda replaced Matt Rhule, who left Baylor to become head coach of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
Roberts and the Cajuns heavily recruit in Texas, where Baylor is located in Waco.
If Toney is named to succeed Roberts as anticipated, it would be his first job as defensive coordinator.
The 29-year-old spent three seasons working under Roberts at Southeastern Louisiana, first as defensive backs coach from 2012-13 and then as safeties coach and special teams coach in 2014.
The Poway, California, native — holder of a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology earned at Southeastern Louisiana in 2013 — later worked as defensive backs coach at Southland-member Sam Houston State in 2015 and at Conference USA-member Texas-San Antonio for two seasons in 2016-17.
Prior to going to Southeastern Louisiana, Toney was an assistant coach at two California high schools and a California junior college (Fallbrook High, defensive line coach in 2008; Palomar College, wide receivers coach in 2009; La Costa Canyon High, offensive coordinator and running backs coach from 2010-11).
Armstrong spent one season at Georgia.
He previously coached inside linebackers as a graduate assistant under Roberts and Napier at UL in 2018, and prior to that spent time as a grad assistant on the staff of ex-Cajuns head coach Mark Hudspeth.
Armstrong worked closely with starting Mike linebacker Jacques Boudreaux, a senior in 2019, to teach him Roberts' defense after Roberts and Napier arrived at UL.
Ragin’ Cajun seniors taking part in college football all-star games had a solid showing last Saturday.
Running back Raymond Calais Jr. returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
He also had four carries for 25 yards.
UL cornerback Michael Jacquet III had two tackles in the same game.
At the East-West Shrine Bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida, meanwhile, Cajuns receiver Ja’Marcus Bradley opened the scoring with a 9-yard touchdown reception for the East team in the East’s 31-27 win.
Dane Brugler, an NFL Draft analyst for The Athletic, had Cajuns offensive guard Kevin Dotson, who played for the West in the Shrine Bowl, rated as the top draft pick at his position in that game.
Offensive tackle Robert Hunt, meanwhile, is spending this week in Mobile, where the Senior Bowl will be played Saturday.
Hunt is not expected to play Saturday, though, due to an injury that cost him the final seven games of his senior season with the Cajuns.
Former UL running back Elijah McGuire is headed to the Super Bowl as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad.
The Vandebilt Catholic High product from Houma spent the 2017 and ’18 seasons with the New York Jets and was signed to Kansas City’s practice squad in late November, about a month after being released from the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad.
McGuire has not been active for the Chiefs this season.
Ex-Cajun Dion Ray recently was named Offensive Newcomer of the Year for Southland-member Nicholls, where he had 579 receiving yards in the 2019 season.
Ray went to Nicholls as a graduate transfer from UL, where he played as a Wildcat quarterback.