Decades apart, Demon brotherhood was on display at a growing tradition

What began a few years ago as a stopgap measure to help the Northwestern State football team has morphed into a true fall camp tradition that bonds the generation of Demon brothers.

A report-day lunch in 2018 that sent then-first-year head coach Brad Laird scrambling launched a reunion of sorts for several local NSU football alumni. Four years later, the number of former players involved in the event had grown nearly tenfold and added the support of the Demon Brothers Booster Club.

Saturday’s meal under the Collins Alumni Pavilion brought to an end the first week of fall camp for the Demons, who open their season on Sept. 3 at Montana.

It also capped a weekend in which the Demons heard from three-time All-American and two-time Super Bowl champion linebacker Gary Reasons.

“This thing has grown,” Laird said. “There were four men who really kick-started this thing. The cafeteria wasn’t available, but this started with four guys and now you’re at 100-plus involved. It shows our players, we talk about family and once they leave here the memories they’re going to have – this shows them what we’re talking about. It works both ways.

“It’s good for our players to see these former players come back, and it’s good for these former players to be able to see who’s now in their locker room and on the same practice field they were.”

Those generations gathered following the fourth practice of camp for the Demons, listening as longtime NSU sports information director Doug Ireland rattled off a list of who’s who Demon football alumni who were involved with or donated to Saturday’s effort.

Like Laird, the original group of NSU alums who pitched in to start the impromptu tradition remains thankful for the bonds it has forged in a relatively short period of time.

“We’re just taking care of the kids,” said Gary “Mojo” Morgan, who fielded one of the initial calls from Laird in 2018. “We never had anything like this as players. It turned out to be a great deal, and we said, ‘We need to continue it.’

“When you get to mingle with the kids, especially the ones who come up to you and want to talk to you about anything – whether it’s education or something you understand – when you go to a game, you find yourself watching that kid. It becomes special.”

The decades of camaraderie and the wisdom from older players continue to resonate within the current Demon roster.

“It’s really important to know what it took for these guys to be successful, win college championships, be All-Americans,” sophomore wide receiver Dylan Fluellen said. “It’s very important for us to take that and use it to our advantage. We hear all year what these guys are talking about, but to hear it from guys in the Louisiana (Sports) Hall of Fame or the N-Club Hall of Fame, it’s that source that proves to us that it’s possible, and we’re capable of doing it. Same message, different voice.

“Having those guys come out here and share that with us today is a real boost for us going into the season. We’re always going to be connected no matter what happens or what adversity we face.”