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As the Cajuns begin spring practices, the team eyes backfield options

Cajuns Spring Football 2021.jpg
Posted at 7:29 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 00:10:49-04

LAFAYETTE — In college sports there is nothing harder than "running it back."

It's the nature of the beast. Four year eligibility windows cause constant turnover, but the NCAA's extra eligibility this year grants teams that very rare opportunity.

The Ragin' Cajuns return almost its entire senior class, shoring up the majority of its depth chart. With one exception. Who's running the ball?

Program greats Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas both declared for the NFL Draft. Those two accounted for 59 percent of the teams rushing numbers the past three seasons.

Filling that hole is the biggest question on Louisiana's roster. Junior Chris Smith is the only player on the roster who carried the ball more than five times in 2020. The total rep counts aren't any more appealing. T.J. Wisham, who did carry the ball last year, has 15 career rushing attempts and Texas A&M transfer Jacob Kibodi has 45 career carries. Kibodi is the biggest addition in the running back room this year and stand the best chance to split carries with Smith.

"Chris Smith is the only guy with experience in that room. The Emani Baileys, the Jacob Kibodis, the T.J. Wishams of the world, I think those guys are going to get their opportunities this spring," said head coach Billy Napier. "You throw the three high school rookies into the mix this summer, and that's going to be a very competitive situation to see who plays."

Louisiana has used three backs in each of the last three years, and while Billy Napier didn't express a need to have three "co-starters," he was clear on the idea that the team will use multiple backs.

The Cajuns added three high school backs - Montrell Johnson, Dre'lyn Washington and Kendrell Williams.

Louisiana began spring practices Tuesday. Beforehand the team announced it had named Tim Leger and Mike Desormeaux co-offensive coordinators. Napier said he'll retain play-calling responsibilities, and the coordinator role will remain the same as it was under Rob Sale.

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