NOTICE: The views expressed in The Vermilion’s opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect those of The Vermilion staff or of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

OPINION  —  My top five University of Louisiana at Lafayette football players are Elijah Mitchell, Bralen Trahan, Trey Ragas, Lorenzo McCaskill and Kenneth Almendares who all played major roles in UL Lafayette’s success last season.

Mitchell is a running back and was honestly the best player on this team. He was a huge part of the Cajuns’s offense in both running and passing the ball. If quarterback Levi Lewis did not have a receiver open down field, Mitchell was always there as a checkdown player to help the offense move down the field.

Mitchell played his heart out for the Cajuns and will have a great NFL career. When he was unable to play because of COVID-19 issues, Trey Ragas filled Mitchell’s spot as the first string running back. Ragas played phenomenally in Mitchell’s absence helping the Cajuns to win some close games early in the season.

 Ragas ended the season with 12 total touchdowns and also contributed to the explosive offense that the Cajuns had last season. Ragas is eligible for this year’s NFL draft and will have a great NFL career either as a starter or a back up. Both Ragas and Mitchell will be heavily missed in the Cajuns’s offense and have left big shoes to fill. Luckily the Cajun defense does not have much to worry about with a few great players returning.

Bralen Trahan led the team in interceptions with four interceptions and nine passes defended. Those stats for a college defensive back are extremely good. Four interceptions was good enough to be tied for 8th most interceptions in the nation. Trahan will be a huge part of the Cajuns secondary going next season as well. Especially since Trahan is a junior and can build off of this amazing season. Trahan has one more year with the Cajuns and will be able to be drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft. 

Linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill is another piece of the defense the Cajuns will hang on to for next season. McCaskill led the defense with 83 total tackles in 2020. McCaskill is an inside linebacker, so he sees a lot of action, and he answered the bell very well. McCaskill averaged almost 10 tackles a game. 

If you have a linebacker like that on your defense, you make sure you hang on to him as long as possible. Like Trahan, McCaskill can use this season as a springboard to perform even better in the 2021 season before he gets drafted. 

Kicker Kenneth Almendares has possibly the highest ceiling on this list. Yes, I know he is just a kicker, but Almendares was 23/23 for extra points and 5/5 for field goals in six games with the Cajuns. It is so hard to kick field goals as consistent as that. 

Almendares was perfect through six games even kicking the field goal that helped the Cajuns defeat Appalachian State this past season. He is only a sophomore so Almendares has plenty of time to build his draft stock and help this team continue to win.