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Ragin’ Cajuns in Class of 2018 honored at Cajundome

LAFAYETTE – There’s going to be a heavy Ragin’ Cajun flavor to the 2018 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction festivities this summer.

Last Thursday night, the spotlight was on three Cajun greats who are heading into the hall on June 30 in Natchitoches. The trio was recognized during a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame “Celebrating Our Legends” recognition at halftime of UL-Lafayette’s basketball victory over South Alabama at the Cajundome.

Former tennis coach Jerry Simmons, former football assistant coach and alumnus Lewis Cook, and Cajun football receiving great Brandon Stokley were saluted by fans in the arena. Stokley, who lives in Denver, was represented by another UL great, 2004 LSHOF inductee Hollis Conway, the two-time USA Olympic high jump medalist.

Ronnie Rantz, the CEO/President of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, led the “Celebrating Our Legends” recognition honoring the Cajun greats.

For information on tickets and participation in the 2018 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration June 28-July 1 in Natchitoches, visit LaSportsHall.com or contact Rantz at RonnieRantz@LaSportsHall.com or at 225-802-6040.

Cook has led three different high schools to 30 state playoff appearances in 33 years as a head coach with 24 district and four state titles, three at Notre Dame of Crowley. After the 2017 season, Cook had a 344-83 career record, ranking him third in Louisiana history among active coaches and fifth all-time in the state with each of the coaches ahead of him already inducted into the LSHOF (J.T. Curtis, Jim Hightower, Red Franklin and Don Shows).

His .806 winning percentage, which is fourth-best in state history, includes a playoff record of 75-27 with four state titles, 12 trips to the state championship game and 18 semifinal berths.  His 1989 Crowley team won the 3A state title, and he followed with state crowns at Notre Dame in 2000 and 2009 in 3A and 2015 in 2A.  Cook has won 24 district titles — including 11 in a row — and has been the state coach of the year six times in three different classes.

He also was the head coach at Rayne High, his alma mater, from 1977-80. Cook spent eight seasons on the offensive staff at UL (1981-84, 1992-95) and coached six eventual NFL players — including Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member Jake Delhomme, and Stokley.

The winningest tennis coach in UL Lafayette, LSU and Louisiana history (career record of 492-197-2 in 26 years), Simmons is one of the top 10 winningest NCAA Division I coaches of all-time.

In 1998, Simmons was the youngest coach ever inducted into the ITA Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, and is also in the Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame. He was the first person to introduce corporate sponsorship to collegiate tennis with the USL Rolex Tennis Classic in 1977.  He organized ESPN’s first televised college tennis match in 1979, served as tournament director of the Nokia Sugar Bowl tennis event from 1994-98 and is tour director of 2013 LSHOF inductee Chanda Rubin’s American ITF.

His record at LSU was 278-105, and at UL Lafayette he was 214-92-2 in 11 years.  Along with the 1988 NCAA title match, his LSU teams advanced to the NCAA Final Eight in 1987-89-91-92, the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1984-85-86-90-93-95-96-97 and made NCAA appearances in 1984-85-86-87-88-89-90-91-92-93-95-96-97.

A record-setting Ragin’ Cajuns star, Stokley played wide receiver for five NFL teams over a 15-year career, appearing in 152 games, and had 397 catches for 5,339 yards (13.4 yards per catch) and 39 TDs. His best season was in 2004 with the Colts, when he teamed with Manning for 68 receptions, 1,077 yards and 10 TDs. Stokley added 46 receptions for 647 yards and seven TDs in 15 postseason games, helping the Baltimore Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV. That night, he caught seven passes for 91 yards in a 34-7 rout of the New York Giants, scoring the first points of the game on a 38-yard TD grab from Trent Dilfer in the first quarter.

Stokley entered the NCAA football record book while playing for the Ragin’ Cajuns from 1995-98, becoming the first Division I player to average 100 receiving yards a game in three different seasons (101.9 in 1995, 105.5 in 1996 and 106.6 in 1998).  As a freshman, his 1,121 receiving yards was an all-division NCAA freshman record — even though he didn’t start a game that year because his father, head coach Nelson Stokley, didn’t want to show favoritism.

With the Ragin’ Cajuns, he had 241 catches for 3,702 yards and 25 TDs despite playing in only four games as a junior because of a torn ACL.  At the end of his career, he ranked ninth all-time in Division I-A in career yardage (3,702) and 10th in catches (241). At Comeaux High in Lafayette, Stokley was a basketball and baseball standout who only played football in his senior season, but made the Class 5A all-state team after leading the state with 80 receptions for 946 yards.