One week until we see Camp Cowboy

<p class="p1">We are exactly one week away from the McNeese State football team reporting for fall camp, which begins Aug. 3.</p><p class="p1">That’s right, we’re just a week shy of the complete 2018 McNeese football team being together on campus for the first time.</p><p class="p1">Every one of those athletes will report hoping to make an impact over the next month that earns them a significant role this season.</p><p class="p1">Today we’re going to look at some of those athletes and what kind of role they can play.</p><p class="p1"><strong>James Tabary, quarterback, senior:</strong> You can’t talk about impact players without first mentioning Tabary, now entering his third year at the helm of the offense.</p><p class="p1">Tabary wowed fans with an outstanding first season in Lake Charles, passing for more than 3,000 yards while sharing much of his time on the field early in the season with fellow quarterback Grant Ashcraft.</p><p class="p1">His junior year didn’t go as well. He didn’t have the luxury of time in the pocket due to a depleted offensive line, and his numbers suffered as a result.</p><p class="p1">But fresh off a trip to the Manning Passing Academy in which he — and some of the best position players in the nation — helped coach high school prospects. Tabary is as confident as ever heading into his senior season.</p><p class="p1">Fall camp will also give us an opportunity to see what Tabary’s potential replacements can do. Sophomore Cody Orgeron, son of LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, got a lot of praise during spring drills, and head coach Lance Guidry was pretty ecstatic after signing incoming freshman Cam Smith out of Florida.</p><p class="p1">But this season’s success will largely depend on the play of Tabary’s final season in blue and gold.</p><p class="p1"><strong>Ryan Ross, running back, senior:</strong> After missing last season due to an injury suffered in the 2017 spring game, Ross will look to lead a large and experienced stable of running backs.</p><p class="p1">He’s as confident as he’s ever been, recently posting on Twitter that he plans on proving he’s the best rusher in the Football Championship Subdivision.</p><p class="p1">Don’t look for Ross’ numbers to be out of this world as he’ll be sharing the backfield with a number of guys, including last year’s dynamic duo of speedster Justin Pratt and bruiser David Hamm. But with good speed, a low center of gravity and an eagerness to get back on the field and make a name for himself, look for Ross to emerge as the Cowboys’ most consistent option when he’s on the field.</p><p class="p1"><strong>Parker Orgeron, wide receiver, junior:</strong> With Kent Shelby and Darious Crawley lost to graduation, Orgeron — another Orgeron son — enters the season as the Cowboys’ most experienced returning receiver.</p><p class="p1">Orgeron is a superb route runner with consistent hands that allow him to make highlight-reel worthy plays, and that’s exactly what Tabary will need.</p><p class="p1">With a large group of capable running backs and an offensive line still struggling with depth, expect Tabary to rely heavily on possession receivers like Orgeron and tight end Lawayne Ross.</p><p class="p1">Unless and until a new deep threat emerges in the receivers corps, Tabary will be looking to make quick passes to guys he’s confident can get open. Orgeron, when healthy, has proved that he can consistently be that guy.</p><p class="p1"><strong>BJ Blunt, linebacker, senior:</strong> Blunt has been touted as a guy with potential to play at the next level since he arrived at McNeese last season.</p><p class="p1">Last year was interesting for Blunt, who was forced to change positions from safety to linebacker due to injuries. This year he will stay at linebacker where he says he plans on making a big impact.</p><p class="p1">Guidry has used a lot of adjectives to describe Blunt’s style of play, but there’s one he likes to use more often than the others: violent.</p><p class="p1">Blunt is a speedy and hard-hitting defender who makes opponents pay for their mistakes. His experience at safety also gives him solid coverage ability in the secondary, making him a diverse option in the middle of the field.</p><p class="p1"><strong>Darion Dunn, cornerback, sophomore:</strong> Dunn got significant playing time as a freshman, then proceeded to raise his stock with his performance as a hurdler on the track and field team.</p><p class="p1">Dunn, an Oakdale product, is a fast and capable secondary player who will take a big step in responsibilities. While rushing defense has been great, the pass defense has left a bit to be desired over the past two seasons.</p><p class="p1">Dunn and Colby Burton have a large task in front of them as they will be tasked with defending opponents’ best receiving options.</p><p class="p1">With his youth a factor, Dunn’s performance will give us an indication as to what we can expect from the secondary in the near future.</p><hr /><p class="p1"> </p><p class="p3"><strong>Tyler Nunez</strong> covers McNeese State athletics. Email him at tnunez@americanpress.com</p>””<p>In this file photo, McNeese State Cowboys quarterback James Tabary (4) passes the ball during the 1st half of their game at Cowboy Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017.</p>RickHickmanPhotographer
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