By McNeese SID Matthew Bonnette:
LAKE CHARLES – The McNeese football program and senior wide receiver Ernest Celestie got the good news they've been waiting for when Celestie was granted another season of eligibility by the NCAA, the athletic department learned on Friday.
Celestie was granted the sixth year after McNeese filed a waiver under sections 14.2.6 and 188.8.131.52 in the NCAA handbook that explains the "Season-of-Competition Waiver" and "Extenuating Circumstances." Celestie's situation fell in line with what the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement would view as cause to grant another year of eligibility.
The Lake Charles native who signed with Texas Tech after graduating from Barbe High School in 2009, missed two seasons with the Red Raiders due to a heart condition and shoulder injury in back-to-back seasons.
McNeese provided the NCAA documents that proved Celestie was denied the opportunity to compete due to the medical conditions and not by choice, therefore he was granted the extra season with the Cowboys.
Celestie transferred to McNeese prior to the 2011 season, and in three seasons with the Pokes, has become one of the top receivers in school history. Entering the 2014 season, Celestie ranks in the top 20 on the school's all-time career receptions list with 77 catches and with 1,172 receiving yards.
He ranked second on the team last season with 565 receiving yards and was third with 31 catches despite playing the entire season with a fractured foot.
"We're very excited to have him back with us," said head coach Matt Viator. "Both as a player and as a person. Everyone in that lockerroom is very excited."
Celestie had foot surgery after the season and is ahead of schedule with his recovery. He will not practice any during this spring but is expected to be 100-percent for the fall.
Earlier this spring McNeese also received medical hardships for senior wide receiver Wes Briscoe and freshman defensive lineman Anthony Yruegas. Yruegas has been going through spring drills while Briscoe is expected to run routes for the first time this spring at Friday's practice.
McNeese will conduct its second scrimmage of the spring beginning at 9:45 Saturday morning in Cowboy Stadium. The event is free and open to the public.