Former Ragin’ Cajun Football Players That Played In The NFL (Part I)
There have been 44 former Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun football players that have played in the NFL, since the league began play as the American Professional Football Association in 1920, and then changed it’s name to the National Football League in 1922.
For simplicity purposes, I’ll list all players as being former UL football players, even though the school has undergone a few name changes since it was founded as Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute in 1898.
Christian “Keener” Cagle was the first UL football player to play in the NFL. Cagle starred in Lafayette from 1922-1925, scoring 235 career points, a school record that stood until 1989, when Brian Mitchell broke it. Cagle played five years in the NFL, spending 1930-1932 with the New York Giants, and 1933-1934 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He accumulated 391 career rushing yards, with two touchdowns. Cagle, who was born in DeRidder, and was once on the cover of of a 1929 edition of Time Magazine, suffered a fractured skull after falling from subway steps in New York in 1939, and died at the age of 37.
Christian “Keener” Cagle (left)
John Bandura, an end who played for UL from 1939-1941, played one game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943. Bandura passed away in 1983, at the age of 63.
There were six members of the the 1943 UL football that went on to play in the NFL. That’s understandable, considering that team went 5-0-1.
Saxon Judd played one season for UL, back in 1943, and went on to play three seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers, catching 84 career passes, for 997 yards, and seven touchdowns. Judd died at the age of 70 in 1990.
Will Blackburn, a center and linebacker, played on that same 1943 team at UL with Judd. He went on to play five seasons with the Chicago Cardinals, from 1946-1950, scoring three touchdowns on 11 career interceptions. Blackburn passed away in 2007, at the age of 84.
Weldon Humble, an offensive guard, and defensive linebacker, was another member of the 1943 UL football team. He played five years in the NFL, from 1947-1950 with the Cleveland Browns, and 1952 with the Dallas Texans. Humble who passed away in 1998 at the age of 76, had five career interceptions.
Quick, who was the first UL quarterback to play in the NFL? Well, surprise, the answer is Charles Virgil Eikenberg, who was another member of that undefeated 1943 UL team, coach by Louis Whitman. Eikenberg threw for 116 yards, and two touchdowns, in 1948, his only season with the Chicago Cardinals. Eikenberg, now 88-years-old, is one of the oldest living ex-NFL players, today.
Want yet another member of the 1943 UL team to play in the NFL? Try Windell Williams, an offensive end, who played two season with the Baltimore Colts, from 1948-1949. Williams had 52 career receptions, for 626 yards, and three touchdowns. Williams, at age 89, is like Eikenberg, in that he’s one of the oldest living former NFL players walking on the face of the earth.
The final member of that 1943 team to play in the NFL was guard John MaGee, who had an eight-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles that went from 1948-1955. MaGee passed away in Kaplan, back in 1991, at the age of 68.
Lance Poimbeouf, who played for coach Jim “Red” Hoggatt in 1960, and coach Russ Faulkinberry in 1961 and 1962, was an offensive guard that played one game with the Dallas Cowboys in 1963. Poimbeouf is 71 years of age today.
Randy McClanahan was a linebacker for coach Augie Tammariello in 1975, and 1976, on a UL team that went 9-2. McClanahan went on to play five years in the NFL, including three different stints with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (’77, & ’80-”82), and one season with the Buffalo Bills (1978). McClanahan played in 61 career games, starting 34. He is 57-years-old today.
Rafael Septien, a former professional soccer player, was a place-kicker with UL, from 1974-77. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 10th-round in 1977, before kicking one season for the Los Angeles Rams in ’77, and then went on to have nine successful years with the Dallas Cowboys (1978-1986), including a 1981 Pro bowl apprearance. Unfortunately Septien ran into some trouble near the end of his career. In 1987, Septien pleaded guilty to a charge of indecency with a child, and was released by the Cowboys. Septien, who is now 58, connected on 180-of-256 field goals in his career, and scored 1,188 career points.
John Roveto, who was Septien’s back-up in 1977, was the starting kicker for the Cajuns in both ’78 & ’79. Roveto followed Septien to the NFL, kicking two seasons for the Chicago Bears in ’81 and ’82, connecting on 14-of-31 field goals. Roveto is now 54 years of age.
Clarence Verdin was a receiver/kick returner who played for the Cajuns from 1980-1983. Verdin began his pro career with the Houston Gamblers of the USFL, playing there from 1984-1985, before dropping to the NFL and a nine-year stint there. Verdin played two season for the Washington Redskins, six season with the Indianapolis Colts, and one season with the Atlanta Falcons. He had 82 career recptions, for 1,329 yads, and seven touchdowns, along with five returns for scores. Verdin is currently 48-years-old.
Joe DeForest was an anchor at linebacker for UL 1983-1986, under both head coaches Sam Robertson and Nelson Stokley. DeForest played three games for the New Orleans Saints in 1987, during the replacement games and recorded a sack. DeForest, now 47-years-old, is an assistant coach at Oklahoma St.
Running back Karl Bernard played for UL in the 1985-86 seasons, after transferring from LSU. Bernard played one season in the NFL, with the Detroit Lions, in 1987. He rushed 187 yards, on 45 carries, and two touchdowns. Bernard rushed for 99 yards and one touchdown, against the Kansas City Chiefs, during a nationally-televised game on Thanksgiving Day that year. Bernard is currently 47 years of age.
Charles “Gator” Bennett was a defensive lineman for the Cajuns, from 193-1985, and was a seventh-round draft choice of the Chicago Bears in ’85. Bennett played in three games for the Mami Dolphins in the 1987 strike year.