McNeese receiver given sixth season by NCAA

By By Alex Hickey / American Press

Ernest Celestie is the pensive type, so before last season ended he was already in reflection mode.

Said Celestie in September, “As 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.’”

He was talking about the urgency of his senior season being a motivator to play through injuries. But as life works in its mysterious way, Celestie’s history of injuries have earned him yet another senior season.

On Friday, the NCAA upheld Celestie’s appeal for a sixth year of eligibility due to health issues keeping him off the field

his first two years of college at Texas Tech.

So as it turns out, you really can go back.

“It brings a whole new meaning, because these last three months I’ve gotten the feeling of what it’s like to be in the real

world and working a 40-hour job,” Celestie said. “Just that three months of a glimpse is an outlook into how much you miss

football. It’s been truly a blessing to have this turn around.”

It’ll be a huge boost for McNeese on the field and in the locker room. Celestie was second on the team in receiving yards

(565) and touchdowns (five) last year, and the Barbe grad’s positive attitude plays well with his teammates.

Both traits will come in handy as the Cowboys break in a new starting quarterback.

“We’re very excited to have him back with us, both as a player and a person,” said coach Matt Viator. “Everyone in that locker

room is excited.”

Getting the necessary paperwork filed with the NCAA ended up being the most adventurous part of Celestie’s appeal.

He was recruited to the school by Mike

Leach, and by the time it came for getting his medical history from the

school, only

one staff member from that era remained — and according to

Celestie, that person was also gone before the process was completed.

“The craziest thing was the doctor who

did my heart procedure left, and when we called the hospital they said

they didn’t

know where he moved to,” Celestie said. “I can guarantee you it

was more detective work than medical work that we had to do,

the tedious stuff getting documents.”

Oddly enough, this fall will mark the first time in Celestie’s career that he is completely healthy going into a season.

His presumptive freshman year came to

an end when a heart condition was discovered after his first workout.

His redshirt freshman

year never got off the ground thanks as injuries that kept him off

the field.

Injuries continued to follow him at McNeese.

One spring game ended early when he had to be carted off because a screw came loose in his foot. He played all of last year

despite spending the week a walking boot because of another foot fracture.

“I can honestly say I’ve never played a healthy season. I don’t know what healthy playing is,” Celestie said. “Now I am 100

percent going into fall camp, and hopefully on into the season.”

A season that proves there is, in fact, always a next year.