McNeese State junior receiver Ernest Celestie. (American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, September 12, 2013 8:01 PM
Allen Iverson would be deeply envious of Ernest Celestie this season.
Celestie has been able to make an impact in McNeese State’s first two games despite minimal participation in practice — although unlike the aforementioned former NBA star, it is at the insistence of his doctors and coaches.
The senior wideout from Barbe is McNeese’s second-leading pass catcher with seven grabs for 91 yards and a touchdown. Not bad for a guy who has to spend the first half of the week in a walking boot.
“I’ve been very impressed because he’s done a great job of staying in shape,” said coach Matt Viator. “He’s been limited to try to help his foot out, but so far, so good. When he’s in the game, he really seems to be good.”
Injuries have always been part of Celestie’s career narrative.
They kept him from the field in his two years at Texas Tech, by which point a coaching change and the difficulty leap-frogging the healthier guys on the depth chart helped bring him back home.
Injuries will not deter him in his final season, though.
“There isn’t a next year,” Celestie said. “As your time is coming to an end, you realize you can’t go back. It’s like high school — as much as we’d like to go back and ball, we can’t. In college our best days are coming behind us. There is no ‘Maybe next year.’”
Even though he’s not going through the full swing of padded practice, one should not get the impression Celestie is sitting around doing nothing all week.
“On Tuesday he doesn’t practice, but he’s at practice,” Viator said. “He has a script. He’s in the meeting. So it’s not like he’s missing any of the preparation.”
Celestie finds other ways to stay in game shape.
“As far as the physical aspect I stay in shape by doing different workouts that keep the pressure off my foot but also keep the cardio up,” Celestie said. “As far as preparing for the game, it’s more mental. My attitude is up and not down. I’m not letting myself get down about not being out there with the team.”
It is a sign of his teammates’ respect that there is no resentment about Celestie missing practice.
“I have great teammates. I rely on them and they rely on me,” Celestie said. “They know I can help contribute, and they allow me to do that.
“When I came into the season my mindset was to enjoy it and have fun. Never have a down day. I want my teammates to see that and enjoy it too.”
Viator said Celestie’s attitude is what endears him to teammates.
“We need him,” Viator said. “He certainly has the respect of the players.”