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Thursday, May 12, 2011
Big-time talent on the Bayou

By Jamie Newberg
ESPN Recruiting

Over the past three years, the state of Louisiana has been able to lay claim to 16 prospects in the ESPNU 150 and seven Under Armour All-Americans and the wealth of talent isn't coming to an end anytime soon. We have toured some of the high schools in the state to check out who are some players to watch and which schools have been frequent visitors.

Destrehan

Destrehan High School in Destrehan, La., has two standout defensive line prospects in the Class of 2012 in defensive end Bryan Singleton and defensive tackle Marrick Charles. Singleton, 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, was the defensive line MVP at last week's Houston Nike Camp.

Marrick Charles
Marrick Charles is a two-gap defensive tackle whose stock is on the rise.

"Boy he has that quick first step," said Destrehan coach Chris Stroud. "Brian won't blow you away with his 40 time but he has great closing speed on the football field. He plays great technique football and is so tough to block."

Singleton has been offered by Tennessee, Arkansas, Ole Miss and others.

Meanwhile, Charles was one of the surprises of the Houston Nike Camp. If he plays hard this fall there's no telling how much Charles' stock can rise.

"If he brings out his motor on every down he can't be blocked," Stroud said. "Marrick has to be double-teamed in high school because no one can handle him. He can be a load and is a true two-gap tackle."

Another rising senior standout is linebacker prospect Kevin Smith, who missed half of last season with a knee injury. Two others who could have breakout seasons this fall are running back Mark Trudeau and athlete Dillan Dent.

Destrehan has a rising sophomore quarterback in Donovan Isom who played a handful of games last fall as a freshman. He's already 6-4 and 225 pounds and displays a very strong arm.

However, perhaps the most talented prospect at Destrehan is 2013 recruit Rickey Jefferson. The 6-foot, 185-pounder is the younger brother of LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

Lutcher

Lutcher High School in Lutcher, La., is home to several recruits including two who seem to have caught fire of late in running back Daniel Taylor and cornerback Jordan Batiste. Taylor, 5-8 and 170 pounds, has started since the eighth grade and is now the all-time leading rusher at Lutcher. He actually broke that mark in the third game of his junior campaign last fall.

"We just have to find ways to get him the ball," said Lutcher coach Tim Detillier. "He's just one of those kids that has another gear. Defenders can have a good angle on him and they still can't catch him. Daniel has tremendous hands, is tough and very athletic."

He actually received his first verbal offer, which came from June Jones when he was head coach at Hawaii, after Taylor finished his first season. His second offer came a little later from Pitt. Now he has around 10 from teams like Auburn, Tennessee and Mississippi State. Even LSU has started to recruit him of late.

Batiste, 5-10 and 180 pounds, will be a three-year starter. According to Detillier, he has all the makings of a very good cover corner for many years to come.

"Jordan can run and boy can he cover," Detillier said. "He has all those skills you look for. He's also physical and a very heady player in the secondary."

Mississippi State, Memphis, Southern Miss and Tulane have offered Batiste.

Another prospect to keep an eye on at Lutcher is wide receiver Trevor Englade. The 5-8, 165-pounder scored 29 touchdowns last season as a junior.

In next year's class, Lutcher has several talented players who will be recruited in athlete Jared Poche, wide receiver Deamphrany Davis, safety Christophe Garon and running back DiJon Payne.

"Poche is a great pitcher in baseball and that could be his future," Detillier said. "Davis has great talent but he's coming back from a broken knee cap. Garon came out of nowhere last year. He's a big-time hitter and an animal out there. He's my kind of football player and he can run. Payne is really good but can't get a lot of playing time because we have [Taylor]. When it's his turn, people will be asking me who that kid is. We will play him at receiver this season because he's just too good."

It's never too early to look at the Class of 2014, where Lutcher has linebacker Blake Roussel, who will be one to watch.

"We have always had great linebackers here," Detillier said. "This kid plays with outstanding instincts and I think he can become a SEC linebacker one day."

Dutchtown

Dutchtown High School in Geismar, La., is home to Under Armour All-American safety Landon Collins, who will roam the secondary once again, but he will also play running back this season.

"Oh am I excited to play running back this season," Collins said. "I can't wait to get my hands on the ball. It's going to be a lot of fun."

There has been constant traffic in the Dutchtown hallways from college coaches from everywhere in the country. On Wednesday, Tennessee, Tulane and Louisiana Tech stopped by. Florida and Auburn plan on coming on Saturday.

"It's been unbelievable," said Dutchtown coach Benny Saia. "There's someone here every day."

However, Collins may not even cut his list, which is extensive at this time, until shortly before the season.

"Right now I am wide open," Collins said. "I know I would like to play in the SEC. I am hoping to visit some schools this summer and narrow it down to five schools before the season starts."

Dutchtown is also home to a sleeper cornerback prospect in Jacolby Bureau. All the 5-9, 166-pounder, who shows great ball skills on film, did last season was intercept eight passes and get named to the all-district team.

Another player who could make some noise this fall is Luke Egloff, who moved in during the season and had to play catch-up for the remainder of the fall.

"I think he can be a really good player," Saia said. "He just didn't have the time to pick up everything last year. He looks like a good athlete."

The 6-2, 206-pounder plays linebacker. His father, Jay Egloff, played fullback for LSU.

Doug Williams
Grambling State coach Doug Williams is focused on recruiting Louisiana prospects.

Special visitor to Dutchtown
New Grambling head coach Doug Williams, the former Super Bowl MVP for the Washington Redskins, stopped by Dutchtown on Wednesday.

"My main recruiting objective is to get the state of Louisiana back in terms of recruiting," said Williams, who was named Grambling's head coach for a second time in February. "The state of Louisiana has to be the most important factor when it comes to recruiting. There are just too many great players in this state and Grambling has to get our share."

Williams hopes to sign a full class this season and that will depend on attrition.

"We are really looking for defensive backs, especially at corner," Williams said. "We also want to load up in the trenches."

Former Dutchtown RB commits to Trojans
Recent USC commit Kelvin York, who was a member of the 2009 class, played his high school football for Dutchtown. York and Alabama running back Eddie Lacy were in the backfield together for four years. Lacey signed with the Crimson Tide, while there were no takers on York.

"I begged teams to take Kelvin when he was coming out," Saia said. "I begged them because I knew then that this kid was a potential NFL player. I couldn't get anyone to bite. I still can't believe it."

York, now at Fullerton Community College in California, committed to USC last week. He and Lacy once formed a great one-two punch for Dutchtown.

"I had two great backs and I wanted to get them on the field together when they were seniors," Saia said. "Kelvin would block people so he was going to play fullback and Eddie was going to play tailback."

At the time, Dutchtown ran a Wing-T and some I-formation. Before the season started Lacy hurt his knee in a scrimmage and for the first five games, while Lacy was out, York led the state in rushing.

"As soon as Lacy came back Kelvin moved back to fullback and didn't mind a bit," Saia said. "He's a team guy."

The ironic twist to this story is that York sat in Saia's office as a high school freshman in 2006 and told Saia exactly where he wanted to go to college.

"Kelvin sat in that chair there and told me that he wanted to play college football for USC," he said.

East St. John

Texas A&M commit Darion Monroe plays quarterback for his high school team, but has a future at corner, according to his East St. John coach Phillip Banko. However, he's so talented Georgia Tech even wants him to play quarterback in its triple-option.

"That kid is a tremendous leader and he's our guy. He's our quarterback," Banko said. "Darion is so smart, so athletic and such a dynamic athlete. I just want him to move the chains for us this season. We will spot play him at cornerback when we need him. I just told him I want him to help us win football games."

Another talent at East St. John in Reserve, La., is defensive lineman Gerron Borne. The 6-4, 275-pounder doesn't have any scholarship offers yet but that could soon change.

"Teams like Minnesota, Tennessee, Tulane, Southern Miss and Miami are all showing interest," Banko said. "I think he has a chance to be very good. Last year was kind of average for him so we are expecting a big senior season from him. He'll get good coaching and I think he's ready for a big year."

A prospect to keep an eye on in the Class of 2013 is safety Leonard Davis, a track standout who runs the 400 meters in 49.59.

"Leonard was the quarterback of our [junior varsity team] last season and he will play safety for us this year," Banko said. "He's a really good athlete that obviously can really run. The thing I like best about him is that he's so coachable."

Davis is the stepbrother of 2014 running back phenom Leonard Fournette from nearby St. Augustine High School in New Orleans.

West St. John

Ronnie Feist
Freshman Ronnie Feist has already been a hit at LSU's August practices.

West St. John High School in Edgard, La., is home to LSU commit Ronnie Feist, who is the team's enforcer on defense.

"He's so nasty and tenacious," said West St. John coach Rob Valdez. "Ronnie just has that attitude out there."

Feist is not the lone standout for West St. John. Despite there being only 206 students in the school, it has several other football standouts like linebacker Dontre Turner, wide receiver/defensive back Jairus Moll and offensive tackle Dontrell Small.

Moll, 5-10 and 175 pounds, stars on both sides of the ball, however, Valdez prefers him on one side of the ball.

"I think I would play him on defense if I had him in college," Valdez said. "He has great hands, hips and speed. And he's such a good kid and the son of a pastor."

Moll made all-district last season, Turner is the team's middle linebacker and Small is a mammoth offensive tackle.

Valdez loves Turner's upside and knows the rising junior has two more important seasons to continue to develop.

"He's our quarterback of the defense," Valdez said. "Dontre is my field general. He's always in the right place at the right time."

Small stands 6-7 and 312 pounds. And get this: he's only in the eighth grade.

"Once he learns how to play, look out," Valdez said. "He just needs to learn the position. For that size he has great feet. He just needs to learn to play low and use his hands."

Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com.