Football: Napier looking for character growth in his players as camp continues
Cody Junot , Special to the Advertiser, The Advertiser, Aug. 15, 2019
With last Saturday’s first scrimmage now fully in the rear-view mirror, coach Billy Napier’s Ragin’ Cajuns are entering what he believes to be the most grueling part of camp and he’s interested to see what type of team emerges on the other side.
For coach Napier, the next few days, leading up to Saturday’s second scrimmage of camp, will tell him a lot about his team. But he’s not looking for the traditional things football coaches look for and talk about. Yes, he is still worried about play execution and lining up in the proper formation, but he believes the next few practices will shine a brighter light on who his team and what they are made of.
“They are nicked-up, bruised-up and tired,” Napier said Wednesday afternoon. “But I also think it’s an opportunity to build an identity and a personality relative to how we compete when we get put in those difficult situations."
Nearly two weeks into camp, Napier is confident in where his team stands from an execution standpoint, and he said the character that he hopes to see built could be the difference-maker in what separates his team from its opponents.
“Elite football teams have lots of players who are a 10-out-of-10 relative to the intangibles," he said. "I could (not) care less how tall they are and how fast they are at this point — we've got enough of that — I want to know about what type of teammate they are, what type of competitor they are, and they're going to prepare when we've got to flip over a plan Sunday to Saturday and having the discipline and competitive spirit to get in position to play at a high level.”
Between the scorching Louisiana heat and the mental and physical exhaustion, Napier and staff will learn a lot over the next few days about just what type of team will take the field against Mississippi State in just more than two weeks.
Throughout fall camp the Cajuns have brought in numerous leaders from outside the world of football to speak to the team. So far, the team has heard from likes of Ron Guidry, Matt Deggs, Jake Delhomme, Brandon Landry of Walk-On’s and several others.
On Wednesday, the team heard from new Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Foundation Executive Director Lee De León.
De León, who was hired last month spoke to the team about what the RCAF does, how its funds help student-athletes at UL and the importance of giving back.
“We want our players to be educated and understand the benefits of being a student-athlete, and that it's not something that should be taken lightly," Napier said explaining why he thought it was important De León address the team.
“We're trying to create a scenario where 5 to 10 years from now these are guys that will give back and continue to be a part of a program and realize what this place did for them. I think we got that message across this morning and that was a good thing.”
The program has started an initiative to demonstrate its appreciation to the RCAF, according to a statement from an athletics department spokesman to The Advertiser. As part of that initiative Ragin’ Cajuns student-athletes will be encouraged to join the RCAF at the introductory level.