(The Daily Advertiser) – For the second Sunday in two weeks, a Ragin’ Cajuns receiver has quit the UL football team.
The day after a loss at Georgia earlier this month, sophomore backup slot receiver Gary Haynes asked for and received his release.
The latest to leave: junior Gabe Fuselier, a local product from Catholic High in New Iberia.
The decision comes with just one game remaining in the regular season for the 5-6 Cajuns, who beat Arkansas State 24-19 last Saturday at Cajun Field and can secure a bowl berth with a win this Saturday at UL Monroe.
“Gabe Fuselier informed us (Sunday) that he is going to pursue other opportunities to play at other places, maybe where he can get some more playing time,” UL head coach Mark Hudspeth said during his weekly media gathering Monday, confirming what we reported a short time earlier.
“Gabe has been an outstanding teammate for the last three years, and he’s a good person, has a good family. So we only wish Gabe the best in his future endeavors, wherever he decides to play.”
It’s possible that Fuselier will land at an FCS Southland Conference school, where he would be able to play next season without having to sit out a year in accord with NCAA transfer rules if he left for another FBS program.
Hudspeth would not comment when asked if it was true that Fuselier actually had quit during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win over Arkansas State, a victory that kept the Cajuns’ bowl hopes alive.
The Cajun coach also would not comment when asked about two players quitting while the season was ongoing.
When Haynes quit, Hudspeth suggested it at least in part was because the slot receiver felt he was not getting enough touches.
Fuselier, who was used both in the slot and at wideout during his Cajun career, had 30 catches for 264 yards and two touchdowns in as a true freshman in 2014 and 37 receptions for 357 yards and 1 TD last year.
But with sophomore Keenan Barnes and redshirt freshmen Ja’Marcus Bradley and Michael Jacquet all playing ahead of him on the outside this season, he’s had just eight catches for 84 yards with no touchdowns in 2016.
Fuselier evidently had been pondering the move prior to this past weekend, and Hudspeth suggested last week that the junior deserved more touches because of the way he had been working and had been patient while waiting for on-field opportunities behind younger players.
With Haynes gone, opportunity seemingly was there in the Arkansas State game behind starter Al Riles in the slot.
And Fuselier was on the field for several plays Saturday, but he had only one catch for five yards against the Red Wolves.
Fuselier also lost his job as UL’s No. 1 kickoff return man prior to this season.
With Haynes and Fuselier both no longer with the program, and Riles being in his senior season, the Cajuns will now need a new slot man in 2017.
Hudspeth expects Ryheem Malone, a transfer from SMU, to step in as UL’s new starter at the position.
Malone had 23 receptions for 258 yards and two touchdowns for SMU last year and five catches for 37 yards while playing as a true freshman in 2014.
He’s had to sit out this season because of the NCAA’s transfer rule, but has been practicing with the Cajuns.
“He had an unbelievable fall, and he will be ready to go Jan. 1,” Hudspeth said of Malone, a product of Bellaire High in the Houston area who’ll have two seasons left to play two at UL. “Exceptional player and skill set, so really excited about his future here.”