Who’s In and Who’s Out? Number of UL Players Missing Independence Bowl
Louisiana Ragin' Cajun football (6-6) plays the Houston Cougars (7-5) in the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl, on Friday, December 23rd at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana.
A chance to end the season with a winning record, become Independence Bowl champions, and send the senior class out on a winning note is an opportunity many players aren't willing to miss.
However, as is the case with any Bowl game in 2022, a number of players won't participate, whether it be because they've opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft or have entered the transfer portal.
Who's out for Louisiana in the Independence Bowl?
The most notable position is wide receiver, where leading wide receiver Michael Jefferson has opted out of the Bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft, and Dontae Fleming has entered the transfer portal.
Another key starter who will not suit up for Louisiana on December 23rd is outside linebacker/pass rusher Andre Jones.
Jones declared for the NFL on December 6th, deciding to bypass the Bowl game.
Other Ragin' Cajuns who have entered the transfer portal and are not currently with the team are backup quarterback Hunter Herring and backup wide receiver Golden Eke.
Senior defensive lineman Andre Landry has also opted out of the Bowl game.
While Landry opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft, two of Louisiana's best players in running back Chris Smith and defensive tackle Zi'Yon Hill-Green will play in the Bowl game, and then prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Hill-Green is a sixth year senior, so his plan to declare to the draft is not a surprise, not is his decision to play in the Bowl game. He is currently tied with former UL standouts Jeff Mitchell and Christian Ringo for the most sacks in school history with 21.
Smith is a junior, with another season of eligibility, but plans to enter the NFL Draft.
Louisiana head coach Michael Desormeaux said Smith is "emphatic" about playing with his teammate in the Independence Bowl.