243 – 18-25-0, 4 TD, vs. Middle Tennessee, 12-3-08
234 – 16-26-0, 2 TD, vs. Ohio, 9-8-07
217 – 14-20-1, 3 TD, at North Texas, 10-11-08
216 – 13-19-0, 2 TD, vs. Fla. International, 11-1-08
200 – 25-35-0, 1 TD, at Illinois, 9-13-08
150-253-403 – vs. Kent State, 9-20-08
123-217-340 – at North Texas, 10-11-08
101-234-335 – vs. Ohio, 9-8-07
175-152-327 – at Middle Tennessee, 11-10-07
149-172-321 – at ULM, 10-4-08
159-159-317 – vs. Troy, 9-22-07
145-121-266 – vs. Fla. Atlantic, 10-20-07
150-114-264 – vs. North Texas, 10-6-07
Competition still drives Desormeaux
By Bruce Brown
Michael Desormeaux doesn't waste time on what-ifs. He's too busy thriving in the now.
A former dual-threat quarterback for UL's Ragin' Cajuns from 2005-08, Desormeaux had a chance to sample pro football in the NFL and in Canada, then made the natural progression into high school coaching.
He was surprised, but prepared, when he got the chance to join UL's staff in 2016, and is just as ready to contribute after being retained on the staff of new coach Billy Napier.
It's almost as if his life is one continuous option play.
“I thought when I took the job at Catholic High (New Iberia), and again when I went to Ascension Episcopal, that I would be there forever,” said Desormeaux, a four-sport star at Catholic High.
“I had no intention of being a college coach. It would have to be the perfect situation, and obviously coaching at my alma mater was a perfect fit. I've always been, and will be, a live-in-the-moment type of person.
“There's a plan for me. I just have to find out what it is.”
The plan will almost certainly include coaching.
“The first reason you get into coaching is to influence young people, Desormeaux said. “Without a doubt, that's what I love the most, to watch players grow and mature."
“To me, there's no better way to get prepared for life, without actually going through that life, than playing football. There is so much adversity, so much to overcome. You learn that sometimes your best is just not good enough, and that's just part of life. Life can come at you hard.”
Ahead of the curve
So far, Desormeaux has been ahead of the curve in dealing with life.
He was a four-year letterman in football at Catholic High, where he led the Panthers to three district titles and achieved near-legendary status. He also lettered four years in basketball, five years in track and field, and three years in baseball.
It didn't matter what season; Desormeaux was ready.
“I just loved to play,” he said. “At Catholic High, most of the guys I played with I had known since at least the fourth grade. From season to season, we had fun. If there is a scoreboard out there, I want to win. I still feel that way. In recruiting, you want to win. The more competition, the better.”
Football gets the nod as the most intense of the sports Desormeaux enjoyed, but they all had their plusses.
“I was probably as good in baseball as I was in football,” he said. “I enjoyed playing. It didn't feel as serious as football.
“Football is THE sport where you are constantly tested, that puts you through trials. One person never wins a football game. The 125th person on the team had just as big a role in getting you ready for the game.
“There is so much to be learned about being part of a family, to fit in with the team and to do your part. I loved to practice. I see myself as an over-achiever, someone who got the most out of the gifts I was blessed with.”
Desormeaux's lifelong love of athletics began when his father, Bill, coached him in youth sports and grew as he followed the exploits of older brother Beau by riding the bus, serving as a ball boy, roaming the sidelines.
He was also impressed by sister Lili (Olivia), an all-state softball pitcher who “might have been the best of the bunch.”
Then came younger brother Matt, who followed Mike to UL, played fullback for the Cajuns and took over as AES coach when his brother left to join the Cajun staff in 2016.
“Turning the program over to Matt was a pretty cool deal,” Desormeaux said. “I didn't think he'd be interested in being a head coach, but when it came up he asked about it and we talked. There's no doubt he was best for the job.
“We're very different. He's laid back, calm, methodical. I'm more vocal. There are different ways to get things done.
“I'm very proud of the program (awarded the 2016 Division IV title). When we took over, they didn't have a whole lot of confidence. But we were able to change their mindset.”
Desormeaux, who will coach Cajun tight ends under Napier, added, “coaching is coaching. The big difference between high school and college is obviously recruiting. It never stops. It's always on your mind, every spare second of the day.
“It's been really busy. The way the coaching change came about, and when it happened, put us a little behind in recruiting. We also have to evaluate our current personnel.
“But I love the competition.”
Desormeaux lived up to his lofty reputation with an impressive Cajun playing career, which included 2,843 yards rushing, 3,893 passing, 6,736 yards of total offense and 39 touchdowns by his hand either rushing or passing.
He became the 8th quarterback in NCAA history with back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in 2007 (1,141) and 2008 (1,035).
Twelve times he ran for over 100 yards in a game, and he had six 200-yard passing days.
His career paralleled that of career rushing leader Tyrell Fenroy (4,646 yards) and the two became a deadly combo for opposing defenses.
Most importantly to Desormeaux, UL posted six-win seasons in three of his four years and would have been bowl eligible today.
“The way it's set up now, we would have gone,” he said. “But that's not the way it was. We had chances to win 7 games and lost games we probably should have won.
“At the end of the day, you can't worry about what-ifs or you'll miss what happens now. Tomorrow will be what it will be.”
He would rather dwell on what was real.
“You're always going to miss the locker room, the hours you spent together, that connection, that bond,” Desormeaux said. “You can never match that.
“I remember homecoming my senior year, my first game back from an injury, when Tyrell became the all-time rusher. (Also) my senior year when we thought we'd earned a bowl with our sixth win. I had one of my better passing days (18-of-25, 243 yards, 4 TD vs. Middle Tennessee). Or the game in Houston (31-28 in 2006) when I ran a fake punt for 60 yards.
“I worked at my craft, spent extra time. I think I was coachable. I wanted my teammates to think a lot of me.”
With those efforts on the field, and a 3.91 grade point average, how could they do otherwise?
One last step
Desormeaux was destined to coach the game he loved, but he had one last fling at playing – first as a free agent defensive back with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and later as a quarterback in Canada – before hanging it up.
“It's every player's dream come true to play in the NFL,” said Desormeaux, who has a son, Thomas, and daughter, Elle, with wife Lindsey. “Obviously I wasn't there long enough. I was on the (Jaguars) practice squad and played in preseason.
“As a competitor, you always think you can get it done. The coaches were good to me, and I met good people.”
Don't bet against the competitive fire staying lit for Desormeaux on the sidelines. It's always been that way.
* * * * *
Michael "pressing the flesh" with his fans during the "Cajun Walk" prior to the Kent State game on September 20, 2008. * * * * * * Click here for Michael's Athletic Network profile.
* * * * * To view photos of Michael's football teammates - click Photo Gallery on the left side of the home page, Football, then any of the years - 2005-2008.
* * * * * Click here for the chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes.