Louisiana-Lafayette coach Rickey Bustle didn't have to venture far to sign a talented recruiting class of 25 players.
Fourteen came from the state of Louisiana, including six local products.
No coach is going to say his signing class is bad, but Bustle was somewhat giddy about this year's group.
"Time will tell and it always does with recruiting, but this might be the top class we've ever recruited here." Bustle told the Lafayette Daily Advertiser.
ULL has seven junior college transfers, with Bustle particularly going hard after defensive linemen.
The running back situation will be interesting in 2010. Sophomore Yobes Walker returns, but he will certainly be challenged by junior college transfer Kevis Streeter and incoming freshman Aaron Spikes.NOTES, QUOTES
--Louisiana-Lafayette will return two outstanding linebackers in seniors Grant Fleming and Daylon McCoy, but the Ragin' Cajuns also lost two outstanding ones in Antwyne Zanders and Jezreel Washington, who combined for 166 tackles last season.
--ULL allowed just 13 sacks in 2009, but the bulk of the offensive line -- including all-conference picks Brad Bustle and Chris Fisher -- have used up their eligibility.
--RB Aaron Spikes, Dallas, Texas -- The three-star signee could be the best of the group. Despite suffering an ankle injury his senior year, Spikes had two outstanding seasons his sophomore and junior years. He rushed for 2,892 yards and 27 touchdowns. With a wide-open situation in the backfield, he could make an immediate impact.
--DL Benay Pryer, Baton Rouge, La. -- The former LSU commitment, who went to Kilgore Junior College out of high school, should provide immediate help on the defensive line. The 6-6, 290-pounder is an outstanding athlete, having earned nine letters in high school.
--DE Bernard Smith, Atlanta, Ga. -- The Northeast Mississippi CC transfer should compete for a starting job early. The 6-3, 235-pounder can also play linebacker, which is evidence of his athletic ability.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think this group is going to be something that people are going to remember, and I'm totally convinced of that. I'm excited about this group." -- ULL coach Rickey Bustle, to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 LOOK AHEAD: Louisiana-Lafayette is coming off a six-win season for the fourth time in five years. However, coach Rickey Bustle will be expected to get over the hump and compete for a league championship. Talent will not be a problem, but maintaining consistency will be the challenge. ULL started 4-2 last season before stumbling down the stretch. Spring practice will be vital, particularly in paying attention to detail and improving a running game that took a major slide in 2009.
SPRING SNAPSHOT: The Ragin' Cajuns begin practice on March 3, and spring drills will culminate with the spring game on March 27.
The strength of ULL's offense in recent years has been its running game, but the Ragin' Cajuns struggled to run the ball consistently in 2009. Finding a quality tailback who can shoulder a heavy running load will be a key this spring. Freshman Yobes Walker is the leading returning rusher.
LB Antwyne Zanders -- Good size, speed and nose for the football. He'll probably be a free-agent signee.
OL Brad Bustle -- All-conference pick who will likely have to make a team as a free agent.
OL Chris Fisher -- Stock probably dropped some after a subpar senior year, but he will likely be signed as a free agent.
--LB Daylon McCoy (knee) suffered the injury late in the season and will probably be limited in spring drills.
--WR Marlin Miller, the team's second leading receiver last season, also played some running back. With ULL needing to find a full-time back, it will be interesting to see where Miller plays in 2010.
--WR Richie Falgout missed five games last year with an ankle injury.
Previous Report: 12/21/2009