Tiger Rag’s 2011 Second Dozen
The next 12 in line from the state of Louisiana
Haughton quarterback Dak Prescott, pictured left, put up monster numbers in 2010. It appears he’ll spend his college days in Cowbell Country playing for Dan Mullen (photo by Doug Collier/The Shreveport Times).
By BEN LOVE
Tiger Rag Editor
We recently released the 33rd annual Tiger Rag “Dirty Dozen,” highlighting the 12 best high school football prospects from around the state.
CLICK HERE to view that list, complete with player capsules and catalogs of previous stories on all 12 players.
Now it’s time to put the spotlight on the next dozen, players we rank between No. 13 and No. 24 in Louisiana for the Class of 2011.
The prospects hail from all corners of the state and play just about every position on the field. One thing they all have in common: college-level talent.
Editor’s Notes: The heights, weights and 40-yard dash times listed below are compiled from Scout.com, as are several of the stats given from players’ senior seasons. Also, the list is given in alphabetical order and is not meant to indicate any rankings among the 12 prospects.
Suddenly, St. Augustine is becoming fertile recruiting ground for LSU. A season after Tyrann Mathieu came to Baton Rouge from the New Orleans-based school, Purple Knight linemen Jonah Austin and Trai Turner are on-board for 2011. Austin, who projects as a tackle, had to prove himself to the LSU staff, which over the summer wasn’t sure Austin was SEC material. “Some kids, they get down and they kind of get upset about that, but that kid didn’t get bitter,” said St. Augustine head coach David Johnson. “He was determined to get better, and that’s what he did. He took it to heart.” The result was a 2010 St. Aug team which ran the ball at will (freshman back Leonard Fournette went over 1,700 yards in eight games) and an offer to Austin from LSU, one the mammoth lineman accepted on December 18.
His is a name which has flown somewhat under the radar as far as top prospects from the ‘11 class go. The reason? Off-the-field issues cost Fleming his entire senior campaign at Benton, where the 6-2, 205-pounder had previously won the state triple jump and long jump championships in May 2010. A super athlete, Fleming most likely projects on the defensive side of the ball at the next level, probably at safety but possibly even at linebacker depending on how much bulk he adds. At the time of this printing (Jan. 28), Fleming is not committed anywhere but could end up being a greyshirt candidate due to possible academic qualifying issues. LSU does appear to still be interested in Fleming, who in early-December told Scout.com he’d narrowed his list to LSU, Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Mississippi State.
Playing at annual powerhouse West Monroe, Hunter is a player who excelled in the Rebels system. He racked up an amazing 85 tackles and five sacks from his defensive line spot en route to Class 5A Defensive MVP honors in his senior season. In his junior year, Hunter helped lead West Monroe to an undefeated season and a state championship. The 6-1, 290-pound Hunter garnered offers from schools such as Baylor, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma State and TCU, and here recently, on January 16, he pledged to play for the Horned Frogs of Fort Worth. He was a high school teammate of Paul Turner, a fellow member of Tiger Rag’s second dozen and someone you’ll read about below.
Among the strongest players in the state of Louisiana this year, Johnson (pictured at left going up against LSU commit and former St. Augustine offensive lineman Trai Turner) is a load up the middle for opposing offensive lines. He may be on the shorter side for someone over 300 pounds, but Johnson’s game is all about leverage and a low pad level which keeps offensive linemen at bay. On January 28, the Covington native committed to LSU, choosing the purple and gold outfit over Tennessee and Arkansas, among many others which offered Johnson a scholarship. “He’s got that perfect body for a nose or a 1-tech defensive tackle,” said Kenny Sears, head coach at St. Paul’s. “He always occupies two and sometimes three people and takes up a ton of space along the front lines. Sometimes his stats don’t look too good, but he’s always doing his job in there.”
If this were an all-body list in terms of physical stature only, Lewis would be a first-team no-brainer. At 6-2.5 and 200 pounds with legit receiving skills, the high school wide receiver is truly gifted. Lewis may also be a player without a clear-cut position early on at LSU (where Lewis committed on February 20, 2010). His freakish abilities for a guy that size mean Lewis could ultimately play some defensive back or maybe even linebacker. If he keeps growing, Lewis may even evolve into more of a tight end, with a bit of a Deangelo Peterson-type build. “What makes him unique is that he has a modern wide receiver build at 6-3, 200 pounds and growing but with collegiate cornerback skills,” said high school coach Rick Gaille. “A lot of people his size and with his receiving ability are somewhat limited as a defensive player, but the LSU staff is going to have a difficult choice.”
One of three defensive backs to commit to LSU last July after attending the team’s summer camp (along with Jalen Collins of Mississippi and David Jenkins of Texas), Martin projects as a safety once he steps foot in Tiger Town. During his stay at White Castle, he was spectacular on both sides of the ball as a quarterback and defensive back, leading his team to the Class 1A state championship with a Superdome win over Ouachita Christian. Martin was named first-team All-State in Class 1A as an athlete. For the regular season, he rushed for more than 700 yards and 12 touchdowns while throwing for 718 yards and eight more touchdowns. Defensively, Martin amassed 78 tackles and 18 pass break-ups in his final prep season at White Castle.
Previous TR story on Ronald Martin: July 20, 2010
Prescott is one of the top, if not the top, dual-threat quarterbacks in Louisiana in the Class of 2011. He led Haughton to an undefeated regular season in 2010 and a district championship. For the ‘10 campaign, Prescott racked up 2,860 yards through the air with 39 passing touchdowns and rushed for more than 900 more yards and 17 additional scores. He was a first-team All-State selection in Class 4A. Prescott is currently a verbal commitment to Dan Mullen and the Mississippi State Bulldogs, although the signal caller did have brief flirtations with both LSU and TCU, with the Bayou Bengals actually looking to be back on the inside track at one point in December. Still, through the visits from Les Miles and Gary Patterson, Prescott has reaffirmed his commitment to the Starkville school and could be the next run-pass threat at QB for the Cowbell Crew.
Raven is an interesting case study as far as Louisiana state prospects go. He’s also a heckuva football player. The interesting part first: Even though he’s been on the LSU radar for quite some time and is a known local talent (Raven’s rated the No. 33 cornerback prospect in the country), the Tigers never offered the East St. John playmaker. Part of that’s because he was injured over the summer, when a trio of talented defensive backs (Martin, listed above, along with Jalen Collins and David Jenkins) attended LSU’s camp and subsequently committed. The other part is because Raven is a young man who wants to get out and experience something new, a feat which he’ll accomplish as an Ole Miss commit. In Raven, the Rebels will be getting a player with good physical presence for a defensive back and excellent recovery ability. He chose Ole Miss (first in December then again in January after a brief decommitment) over offers from Arizona, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M and Utah.
The Salmen Spartans had a great season in 2010, losing only twice, with one coming to eventual state champion Franklinton (35-28) and the other coming in the second round of the playoffs to state semifinalist O. Perry Walker (24-21) and dirty dozen member Anthony Johnson. Sams was far and way the biggest reason for the Spartans’ success. Playing quarterback, Sams triggered an explosive offense which averaged a shade over 44.5 points per game. With his considerable skills (Sams scored 26 touchdowns in only six games as a junior), he garnered offers from Kansas State, Oklahoma and Tulsa while also drawing interest from schools such as Clemson, LSU, Missouri, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Tulane. In the end, Sams gave his verbal commitment to Kansas State and head coach Bill Snyder, who offered the Salmen product following his trip to Manhattan (the “Little Apple”) for the program’s Junior Day in March 2010.
Supreme speed and quickness are the first things that jump off the screen when watching Sylve play. Although he missed his entire junior season due to a broken foot, the South Plaquemines product was back in action for much of his senior campaign in 2010, playing quarterback and leading his team to an 11-3 record and a berth in the state semifinals. Sylve is currently committed to Alabama and is expected to return to wide receiver, where he hasn’t played since his sophomore year, once he gets up to Tuscaloosa. He participated in the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando in early January and is scheduled to run track this spring. According to Scout.com, Sylve also received offers from California, LSU, Nebraska, Stanford, Tennessee and USC, among others. Scout has Sylve as the No. 36 receiver in the country and a four-star prospect.
Turner is certainly on the short list for the most versatile player coming out of Louisiana in 2011. The Rebels’ star quarterback is so athletic he’s being considered at both wide receiver and safety by the LSU coaching staff (Turner committed to the Tigers on July 31). The thought here is he’ll eventually prove to be too dangerous with the ball in his hands and will stay on the offensive side of the ball (much like Odell Beckham, a member of our first dozen). Turner’s also a cerebral guy. He will graduate as West Monroe’s valedictorian this May. On the gridiron, he led an option attack that few could slow down at the high school level. Turner took Don Shows’ team back to the 5A state finals in 2010, where the Rebs dropped a hard-fought 21-14 game to Acadiana and Micah Eugene (a fellow LSU commit and another member of our first dozen).
Previous TR story on Paul Turner: August 1, 2010
The final member of our second dozen was destined to be an LSU Tiger from the start. Playing in Baton Rouge, White had long eyed the Tigers’ campus and couldn’t wait to commit once the offer came, as he told Tiger Rag in November. “A week [after the scholarship offer], I was waiting to commit,” said White. “Coach [Chad] Germany and the recruiter from LSU [Frank Wilson] were talking to me about committing early, so I made my decision on the last day of school last year.” White’s commitment came on December 18, 2009 (the same day as Kenny Hilliard’s and Anthony Johnson’s), and the offensive lineman has been preparing for his college days ever since, a transition that will also entail a move from left tackle inside to offensive guard. White chose LSU over an offer from Houston. Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee also had interest in the 6-4, 307-pounder, according to Scout.com.
There you have it - Tiger Rag’s second dozen best high school prospects in Louisiana from the Class of 2011.
Now, it’s time to breakdown the data in a couple of different ways.
First, let’s take a look at information specific to just these 12 players listed above (our “Second Dozen”).
- 6 of the 12 are currently LSU commitments
- 1 of the 12 is an Alabama commitment
- 1 of the 12 is a Kansas State commitment
- 1 of the 12 is a Mississippi State commitment
- 1 of the 12 is an Ole Miss commitment
- 1 of the 12 is a TCU commitment
- 1 of the 12 is undecided
- 7 of the 12 project as offensive players in college (4 are WRs, 1 QB, 1 OG and 1 OT)
- 5 of the 12 project as defensive players in college (2 are DTs, 2 play S and 1 CB)
With those numbers in the books, let’s combine the data from all 24 propsects in our two dozens and see how things shake out.
- 15 of the 24 are currently LSU commitments
- 1 of the 24 is an Alabama commitment
- 1 of the 24 is an Auburn commitment
- 1 of the 24 is a Kansas State commitment
- 1 of the 24 is a Mississippi State commitment
- 1 of the 24 is an Ole Miss commitment
- 1 of the 24 is a TCU commitment
- 1 of the 24 is headed to Community College
- 2 of the 24 are undecided
- 16 of the 24 project as offensive players in college (7 are WRs, 3 RBs, 3 OGs, 2 OTs and 1 QB)
- 8 of the 24 project as defensive players in college (3 are DTs, 3 play S, 1 DE and 1 CB)
I guess it’s almost to be expected at this point, but this data underscores the fact that the state of Louisiana just doesn’t produce top-flight quarterbacks. Of La.’s top 24 players, only one - Dak Prescott - projects as a quarterback at the next level, and he’s even considered a dual-threat signal caller. It is worth mentioning that Terrance Magee, Ronald Martin, Daniel Sams, Paul Turner and a number of others on our lists did play QB at the high school level, but all of them (excluding Prescott) figure to play other skill positions in college.
As much of a blight as Louisiana typically has at quarterback, it’s long been the exact opposite for the Pelican State as far as wide receivers and running backs go. This 2011 crop is no different, with seven wide receivers making the list (more than a quarter of the state’s best prospects will play wide-out in college) and three running backs. In all, 11 of the 16 players selected on offense play positions other than on the line.
Speaking of the line, the ‘11 class has quite a crop of defensive linemen. Defensive tackle leads the way, position-wise, as far as volume of players selected on defense with three total. The quality of those three is pretty outstanding, too, when you rattle off names like Anthony Johnson (five-star on Scout) and Mickey Johnson (four-star).
Finally, for the sake of being thorough, here are the 20 high schools represented on our two lists combined: Isidore Newman, Redemptorist, Acadiana, Patterson, O. Perry Walker, Lutcher, Franklinton, Evangel, Thibodaux, St. Augustine, East St. John, Benton, West Monroe, St. Paul’s, St. James, White Castle, Haughton, South Plaquemines, Salmen and Capitol. Two prospects apiece came from East St. John, Redemptorist, St. Augustine and West Monroe
For photographic assistance, Tiger Rag would like to thank the following: Doug Collier of The Times in Shreveport; Joey Michel Photography; Albritton Photography; Rusty Costanza of The Times-Picayune; Capitol High School and St. James High School.
Editor Ben Love covers LSU football and men’s basketball for Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.