Born to Lead: Desormeaux Comes Home – From the Bird’s Nest
Today when I learned Mike Desormeaux was being named the wide receivers coach at the University of Louisiana, I was pretty excited. I'll put it very succinctly. He's my favorite of all the student-athletes I ever covered.
As the quarterback at UL, I learned he was tough as nails. I learned he was not A leader, he was THE leader of that football team. He demanded the best from his teammates because he gave his best. Every. Single. Day.
"Best teammate I ever had," my broadcast partner Richle Falgout told me. "Both on and off the field."
And today I remembered a conversation I had with an opposing coach after Mike finished his eligibility.
I got off the elevator at the Hampton Inn in Troy and there was a big crowd in the lobby area. I was there for UL basketball, but it was a football kind of crowd.
It was a big recruiting weekend. And, sitting in the lobby was Troy football coach Larry Blakeney. I had interviewed Coach Blakeney several times at Sun Belt Media Days. He recognized me as I approached and we shook hands. We chatted for a minute and then he asked "What's Mike doing now?"
He was speaking of former Ragin' Cajuns quarterback Mike Desormeaux, who left UL as the third leading rusher in school history, despite having the full time starting job as the Cajuns' quarterback for only two years. I told Coach Blakeney Mike was finishing his degree requirements and would probably get into coaching.
What he said next made me realize just how someone on the periphery looked at Michael Desormeaux.
"If he wants to coach, tell him to call me if he needs help," Blakeney said. "I don't know that I'll have something for him, but I can find someone who does." Then he added "I love that kid."
Mike did, in fact, get into coaching and has spent the last few years as the head coach at Ascension Episcopal. And, it's no surprise he built the program into a power in Class A football.
He did it the same way he excelled as a student-athlete.
Hard work. No shortcuts.
And, like he demanded it of his teammates at UL, he demanded it from his players at AES.
And, like at UL, the players responded.
On the day of his final game as a collegian, I ran into his father Bill as I was getting out of my car. Bill walked up and shook my hand. "I just want to say thank you for all the great things you said about Mike." I told him Mike earned every single thing I ever said about him. But that short conversation told me more about that young man. Humility was ingrained in him at a young age.
Now Mike will get an opportunity to coach at the collegiate level at his alma mater. The questions asked about any high school coach making the jump to college will be asked. Specifically, how will he do as a recruiter?
Here's your answer. He'll be great. Recruits will love his passion and honesty. Mamas will fall in love with his emphasis on all the right things.
Cajun wide receivers will be willing to run through a wall for him. His presence in the locker room will make everyone around him better.
Because that's what leaders do.