Louisiana football head coach Billy Napier has made his recruiting strategy clear: win in-state recruits, and catch the ones you lose in the transfer portal in a few years.
Wednesday, as Louisiana polished off its 20-21 recruiting class, Napier added 12 in-state recruits. That's 12 of the 23 total. That's more than LSU's nine Louisiana recruits, and more than Louisiana Tech (5), Tulane (3), and ULM (2) combined. That number is also conservative and doesn't include three of Louisiana's eight transfers, two of whom are from Louisiana. In fact, of the Cajuns' eight portal pickups, six are from Louisiana, and Oklahoma native T.J. Fiailoa played at ULM.
"We recruit a lot of players who don't come here. They go off and end up back here to some degree," said Napier. "But there is no question we have awareness of the current players in the state. That's where we start."
For the second straight year, Louisiana's class scores as the Sun Belt's best when grading it using 247 Sports average player scores. Napier said Wednesday when he got here he had to sell players a vision, now he has a resume to back that up.
"I think when we first came here we were selling hope," he said. "We were selling kind of a theory. Now the theory has been tested, hope has been realized, and we have a product. We have a product to sell. Our methods work."
Louisiana signed two Acadiana products, Acadiana's Cam George and Carencro's Kendrell Williams. Williams is one of a handful of backs in this recruiting class; he said the chance to work with Cajuns running back coach Jabbar Juluke was important to him.
"They have one of the best running back coaches in the state, honestly. If you look at it, and look at the running backs that's coming from the state, (to the NFL) It's UL. It's coming from coach Juluke. He's producing good running backs. He's putting those running backs in the league and I want to be one of those running backs."
Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell could become the team's second and third running backs selected in the NFL Draft in two years.
A handful of other Acadiana players - Damon Thompson (Opelousas), Park Seihan (Notre Dame), and Wesley Maze (Notre Dame) - committed to the Cajuns as preferred walk-ons. Those players all come to Louisiana with the promise of earning a scholarship. While that may be lip-service at some schools, it's not in Lafayette.
"We've put 30 players on scholarship in our first three seasons who were walk-ons, and we'll have more who we'll do that for in the spring. There is more to come," said Napier. "It's a big part of our culture around here is that you get what you earn regardless of your class or status."
You can read up on the Cajuns official 23-man class here.
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