UL-Lafayette goes into National Signing Day with vacancies

Photo credit: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Photo credit: University of Louisiana at Lafayette

LAFAYETTE, La. (The Daily Advertiser) – The Ragin’ Cajuns head into National Signing Day on Wednesday with some spots to fill, and some question marks surrounding a couple key recruits.

For some commits UL has lost, for some it has gained and for some it may or may not sign, the issue of whether or not to play for a Power 5 program or a Group of Five program like the Cajuns has a huge role in who will sign where.

UL went into the final weekend with 16 known commitments, one or more of whom might be blueshirted and count toward its 2018 signing class instead of its Class of 2017.

Among the 16 are five Acadiana-area players: defensive back Bralen Trahan and tight end Andre Landry of Acadiana High, Erath High running back Elijah Mitchell, defensive lineman Zi’Yon Hill of Catholic High in New Iberia and Opelousas Catholic School offensive lineman Spencer Gardner.

The Cajuns had planned to sign 18-to-20 to its 2017 class, plus their blueshirts, but it remains to be seen if they’ll land that many Wednesday.

Coaches of the winning program already will know, but Gautier (Mississippi) High offensive lineman Paul Gainer has been trying to keep his choice quiet until Signing Day.

Gainer is deciding from among UL, Southern Mississippi and Tulane — and became available to the three Group of Five programs only after he decommitted from a Power 5 team, Mississippi State of the SEC.

The Cajuns already have picked up a commitment from one former Power 5 commit, MaxPreps All-American tight end Chase Rogers.

The Mississippian decommitted from SEC-member Tennessee in November.

Power 5 programs are ones that play in the SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12 or Pac-12.

Group of Five schools are from the Sun Belt Conference (including UL), the MAC, the Mountain West, the American Athletic Conference and Conference USA.

The decision of a Power 5 school could also influence whether or not UL is able to sign Minden High linebacker Zi’Kerrion Baker.

If SEC-member Ole Miss loses certain recruits to other Power 5s, it could make a late offer to Baker, who visited the Rebels last weekend.

He’s a big UL target who could join the Cajuns otherwise.

Another top Cajun target, Lackawanna (Pennsylvania) College quarterback David Pindell, visited Connecticut last weekend instead of UL. According to a Hartford Courant report Tuesday, he committed to UConn of the AAC on Tuesday.

Pindell also visited Temple and Coastal Carolina.

A few Cajun commits, meanwhile, fell off along the way —for one reason or another, including the lure of playing for a Power 5.

Early on, last July, Shawn Shamburger — a Mobile, Alabama-area defensive back — started get recruiting attention from Auburn and decommitted from UL.

Shamburger, who played his final high school season in Georgia, wound up committing to a different SEC school instead.

He pledged to Tennessee.

Juco safety Jaylon Johnson was dropped by UL in December for what’s believed to be academic reasons, and earlier this month juco cornerback Michael Sam joined Louisiana Tech instead for the same reason.

The Cajuns dropped Hammond High’s Davion May in January, after he had committed, decommitted and later recommitted.

On the final Sunday before Signing Day, UL lost two other commits.

Ponchatoula High defensive end Tyrique Gibson changed his pledge to McNeese State of the lower-level FCS Southland Conference, and Union Parish High receiver/tight end Nijeel Meeking flipped to Big 12-member Texas Christian – a Power 5 program.

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