Summer brings hope for Cowboys

Published 9:53 am Thursday, June 6, 2024

The Cowboys began stacking their latest building blocks almost before last season ended. 

McNeese State’s coaches hit the recruiting trail with full force in hopes of turning things around from a 1-10 campaign. It seems to have paid off.

By most accounts, the Cowboys won the offseason, collecting a total of 18 transfers from college football’s top FBS division. That adds to a solid group of high schoolers and junior college pickups, giving McNeese one of the better FCS classes in the nation.

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Now comes the hard part, turning paper talent into on-field victories.

“We are pretty excited about this class and our late signings,” said head coach Gary Goff. “We have brought in a lot of talent that has experience.”

The Cowboys added skill on all sides of the ball at all levels, leaving no position void of an upgrade. They also added local players, including two from Power 5 conferences.

In January McNeese signed wide receiver Curtis Deville, a transfer from Purdue who played at Iowa High School. And most recently the Cowboys added Tre’Vonte Citizen, a running back from Miami who was a star at Lake Charles College Prep.

They, along with quarterback Clifton McDowell, a transfer from Montana who led the Grizzlies to the FCS national championship game last year, are the highlights to a very solid group of newcomers.

“All the guys we brought in have confidence, having played at a high level,” said Goff. “We knew (after last year) where our deficiencies were. We went out to correct them.”

Citizen is coming off two injured seasons at Miami and is more than ready to show what he can do on the field.

“He is looking for a fresh start,” said Goff. “He is healthy now and ready to go.”

DeVille showed what he could do during the spring, making big plays during both scrimmages. 

“He (DeVille) got lost in the shuffle at Purdue,” said Goff. “He wanted to come home and get back to playing.”

As for McDowell, he is looking for a final home where he can finish what he started last year in Montana.

“He is a proven winner, a big get for us,” said Goff.

There are others, like a new defensive line and a host of fresh folks in the secondary. With 19 seniors, up from six last year, only two of whom started with scholarships, the upgrades are obvious, but that is no guarantee of a great season.

“We still got to put the pieces of this team together,” said Goff. 

This will be a big season for Goff and his staff who are entering their fourth season. The pressure after last year is on to turn the program around.

Goff also knows that this is how teams are built these days.

“We have to be able to reload every year, that is the lessons we have learned,” said Goff. 

Players will spend the summer going through weight training and conditioning drills along with leadership workshops in effort to bring the club together.

McNeese will open the season at Tarleton State on Aug. 24 in Week Zero. The game will extend the Cowboy season an extra week and move fall camp to a July 22 start date.