Football: WCA alumni land scholarships to play for Ragin' Cajuns + Spring Game Photos
Bobby Ardoin, The Advertiser, April 20, 2018
LAFAYETTE — As far as birthday presents go, the one that Jalen Williams experienced on Saturday might be the one he remembers most.
Williams, now 23, along with fellow Westminster Christian Academy football standout Chaiziere Malbrue, was awarded a football scholarship to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette during halftime of the Cajuns’ spring football game at Cajun Field.
Asked if he wanted to sing "Happy Birthday" at the post-game press conference. Williams just smiled and preferred to savor the moment, one that he might not have expected five years ago.
He was perhaps still too stunned by the events that had unfolded just an hour or so before.
“I had no idea this was coming,” said Williams who caught four passes for 76 yards and a touchdown on Saturday. "Right now, it’s indescribable. I’m just trying right now to let it all soak in."
In addition to Williams and Malbrue, head football coach Billy Napier also announced that scholarships for the upcoming season would also be given to Deuce Wallace and Ashton Johnson.
The scholarship announcements — at least for the players — were a surprise as Napier gathered the team around and informed them of the decision.
Williams’ mother, Lysandra Williams, and Mark and Caroline Malbrue, parents of Chaiziere, were on the field when the players were notified.
“All I could do at that moment was cry,” said Caroline Malbrue, a teacher at Opelousas High School.
Caroline Malbrue said university officials notified her and the rest of her family on Monday. Lysandra Williams said she was told about her son’s scholarship on Thursday.
For both players, the path from college walk-on to scholarship player has been somewhat arduous since they left Westminster.
Jalen Williams’ journey has been unique with more than the usual number of twists.
After signing a professional baseball scholarship out of high school in 2013, Williams pitched in the Boston Red Sox minor league organization for three seasons and ended his career with a 4-2 record along with a 3.17 earned run average.
Those numbers weren’t especially shabby, but Jalen Williams said he and the Red Sox front office eventually agreed to mutually part ways.
After that, he left for Baton Rouge and walked on to the LSU football team. He dressed for most games, but didn’t play, said his mother. Last fall, Williams transferred to Lafayette.
“It’s been a long journey. You just have to keep going,” he said. "I told my mom after I left baseball that I was going to earn a scholarship playing football."
Chaiziere Malbrue- Louisiana Ragin Cajuns Spring Football game. Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network)
Malbrue, like Williams, was a member of the White Team, but he was on crutches along the sideline during the game. This season he will be a senior after starting several games during his UL football career.
Caroline Malbrue said it’s somewhat ironic that her son has a football scholarship. Basketball, she said, was the sport that her son probably excelled in the most.
“We always hoped that he would earn a scholarship here," she said. "He’s worked hard and we have had faith that God was looking out and caring for him."
She said school officials told her to keep quiet until the announcement was made at halftime.
Lysandra Williams, like her son, said it was hard processing the moment.
“I think the thing I take away most is that my son’s journey so far can be described as one of perseverance and determination,” she said.