Youth runs wild in New Orleans

Class of 2012 is well represented, but underclassmen also turning heads

Originally Published: May 16, 2011
By Jamie Newberg | ESPN Recruiting

The third day of the blitz through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana featured a stop in New Orleans to visit coaches and players from St. Augustine, Brother Martin, Jesuit, Edna Karr and John Curtis.

Young and talented at St. Augustine
St. Augustine has always been a program blessed with outstanding athletes and college football prospects. This edition is no different. It's loaded at all levels, especially the Class of 2014. Leading the way is running back Leonard Fournette, who is already 6-foot and 215 pounds and has verbal scholarship offers from LSU, Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, West Virginia, Texas A&M and many others. Texas hasn't offered him yet, but it is starting to come at him hard.

[+] EnlargeFournette
Jamie NewbergLeonard Fournette already has verbal offers from LSU, Notre Dame, Bama, Florida, Texas A&M and others.
"Maybe I am a little biased but he's the best running back in the state right now," said St. Augustine assistant coach Kyle Gilbert. "Ask around. You won't find anyone that disagrees with you. He can do it all -- run with power, run away from people, and make you miss. And he's only 14 years old."

Fournette will turn 15 next week, but despite his age, he recently placed eighth in the state 200 meters with a time of 22.3 seconds. Not bad for a high school freshman.

"The biggest thing for him right now is that he runs to daylight," Gilbert said. "He needs to keep working on reading his blocks and knowing when to set things up and then make his cuts. Right now, he's running on instinct. Leonard is one of those guys that just has 'it.'"

He's not the only one. St. Augustine -- a school of just more than 600 students -- also has a top baseball prospect in Blaise Brown and a top basketball prospect in ESPNU 25 member Craig Victor and, amazingly enough, they are also both freshmen. Brown, who plays both second base and shortstop, is also an up-and-comer on the football team.

"Make no mistake about it, he will play baseball," Gilbert said. "He's amazing, as is Victor but we can't get him to come out for football. Our AD is also our basketball coach and he wouldn't be too happy about that."

Despite being so young, it's the trio of Fournette, Brown and Victor that's the talk of the school.

"They may be freshmen, but they aren't treated that way around here," Gilbert said. "To be perfectly honest, they are all great kids who are humble and hungry. They are already the leaders of not just their teams, but the school. It's amazing."

Those aren't the only 2014 football standouts for St. Augustine. They also have a trio of offensive linemen in Damien Daniels (6-4, 305 pounds), Peyton Winbush (6-3, 290 pounds) and Justin Jones (6-2, 340 pounds) and defensive tackle Jonathan Paul (6-5, 295 pounds).

"Paul is absolutely dominating," Gilbert said. "He's already an aggressive kid who's sneaky athletic. He plays with a good motor and is very coachable. LSU loves him and teams are starting to know about him. He will be a major recruit like Fournette.

"The big thing with these guys is they just have to grow up … real quickly."

But that's not to say the Class of 2012 isn't well represented. Wide receiver Lorenzo Doss, 5-11 and 185 pounds, leads the way. He already has scholarship offers from Baylor, Houston and Northwestern, while TCU will likely offer him next month and Notre Dame is showing a big interest.

"I coached Craig Davis at O Perry Walker and he's the second coming of Davis," Gilbert said. "He's a great route-runner who can do something with the ball."

Another 2012 standout is WR Sydie London. He's 6-3, 195 pounds and is playing just his second season of football after focusing on basketball for so long.

"He's just realizing that football is his ticket, not basketball," Gilbert said. "Sydie has just kind of learned on the fly. Teams love his size and he can run in the 4.5 range. He could grow into a hybrid tight end as well. LSU, Florida, Texas Tech, Houston and West Virginia are all over him."

Three other 2012 recruits who will sign somewhere are cornerbacks Dominick Jones (6-0, 175 pounds) and Brandon Webb (5-9, 170 pounds) and defensive tackle Matthew Gaston (6-2, 270 pounds). Gaston, whose father Cameron played for the Houston Oilers, has a 4.2 GPA and has already scored a 27 ACT. Jones, who carries a 4.0 GPA and scored 25 on the ACT, already has a full academic scholarship offer from Notre Dame.

"Matthew already has academic scholarships to Princeton, Yale and Dartmouth," Gilbert said. "I think he's holding out for Harvard. Army came by [on Wednesday] and they love him. He's by far the strongest player on the team with a 415 bench press. He wants to be a brain surgeon."

Edna Karr keeps producing players
Forty Edna Karr players have played Division I over the past eight years and based on the talent across every grade level, there's little reason to think that trend will slow down. Leading the charge is 6-8, 330-pound offensive tackle Derek Edinburgh. Scary thing is he's just 16 and already wearing a size 20 shoe.

Derek Edinburgh
Jamie NewbergDerek Edinburgh has verbal offers from Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Pitt and others.
"He's got tremendous upside because he's so young," Edna Karr coach Jabbar Juluke said. "And I think he's a five-star athlete. He's turning into a great football player."

Since the May evaluation period began, Edinburgh has received scholarship offers from Arizona, Minnesota, Arkansas, Utah, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Pitt, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech and Tulane, while drawing interest from Auburn, Alabama, Florida, LSU and Mississippi State.

Perhaps the next best prospect is 2014 defensive end Gerald Willis. He's the younger brother of Under Armour All-American Landon Collins, who plays safety at Dutchtown up the road in Geismar, La. Willis, 6-3 and 250 pounds, recorded 10 sacks last season, mostly in a reserve role.

"I think he will be one of those top 100 recruits in the nation when it comes out," Juluke said. "He's a mean son of a gun. I mean nasty out there. He's big, fast and can really chase the ball. Gerald has all the intangibles to be a great player."

Edna Karr has a few 2013 standouts like tight end Standish Dobard (6-4, 230 pounds) and cornerback Noel Ellis (5-10, 170 pounds). Dobard already has a verbal offer from Florida. Ellis recorded eight interceptions last season and is getting interest from Colorado, Notre Dame, LSU and Auburn.

Class of 2012 recruits like safety Melvin Davis (6-foot, 185 pounds), athlete Rasheed Davis (5-5, 150 pounds), defensive linemen Leonard Washington (6-foot, 285 pounds) and Darrian Dyson (6-3, 290 pounds) and wide receiver Jerrell Bennett (5-11, 160 pounds) will all play college football somewhere. Bennett has offers from Arizona, Colorado, Kansas State and Minnesota, while the others are all getting interest from various BCS schools.

Oh Brother
No recruit in the city of New Orleans has been hotter over the past week than Brother Martin's Julian Obioha. The 6-4, 255-pound defensive end has offers from Notre Dame, Pitt, Arizona, Texas A&M, Southern Miss, Nebraska, Tulane, Baylor, Minnesota and Kentucky and most of those came this week.

"I think I had 25 calls from colleges yesterday alone," Brother Martin coach Mark Bonis said. "This kid is big, quick and very technically sound. He's a hard worker who carries a 3.6 GPA and he's already fully qualified. He's really blowing up."

There are two other prospects in the '12 class at Brother Martin in defensive tackle Chris Williams (6-2½, 260 pounds) and cornerback Larry Jordan (5-10, 185 pounds).

"Believe it or not Chris has already been offered by Arkansas State and Memphis and he didn't play for us last year," Bonis said. "He transferred from McDonough 35 and had to sit out. I expect him to have a big year for us. Jordan is a kid who runs 4.49 [electronically timed 40-yard dash] and has a 34-inch vertical. We are not known to have skilled guys around here but this kid can really play."

Brother Martin also has a standout offensive line prospect for the class of 2013 in 6-3, 275-pound Ryan Hoefield.

"He still has a lot of growing to do," Bonis said. "He's physical, tough, mean and has football savvy."

Another loaded Curtis team
John Curtis' Dillon Gordon certainly looks and plays the part of being a major college football prospect. At 6-5 and 250 pounds, he's heading to LSU to play tight end.

"Dillon has all the tools," John Curtis coach J.T. Curtis said. "He broke a foot last spring and has recovered well. It took him a while but he came on strong in the playoffs last season. We are working him out at outside linebacker this spring and he has done well. But he will play tight end at LSU and he has all the tools. He's athletic and has good hands. Dillon is your prototype."

The Patriots also have other intriguing 2012 prospects, including outside linebacker Torrey Bell, defensive tackle Marcel Andry and offensive tackle Jonathan Levens.

"Bell has that long body," Curtis said. "He's 6-5 and 230 pounds. He's a basketball player that moves very well. A lot of schools are recruiting him.

"Andry is 6-2 and 275 pounds. He's very physical and an excellent athlete. He reminds me of [former LSU signee] Drake Nevis.

"Levens is interesting. He's 6-8 and 310 pounds. He's only played one season of football. He has the size and tools to really develop. He just needs to continue to progress. We are hoping he makes a big jump for us. He's raw and not afraid to hit you."

While the Curtis rising seniors are impressive, its 2013 class is even deeper, led by offensive tackle Anthony Taylor (6-5, 290 pounds), running back Tevin Horton (5-10, 185 pounds) and defensive back Richard Allen (5-10, 175 pounds).

Stat of the day
River Ridge John Curtis has won an astounding 23 state championships under the watchful eye of coach J.T. Curtis, who has been there for 42 years. Curtis has a career mark of 454-52-6, which is even more impressive considering he went 0-10 his first season in 1969. The Patriots scored only two touchdowns that year.

Don't forget about Debo
Several coaches in New Orleans raved about the play of 6-2, 200-pound Jesuit linebacker Deion "Debo" Jones.

"Debo runs extremely well and can really close on the ball," Jesuit coach Wayde Keiser said. "He can play in space, tackle and has athleticism. We play him on the inside because we have to but he will be an outside linebacker or safety at the next level."

According to Keiser, Jones has scholarship offers from Kentucky, Arizona, Southern Miss, Tulane, Memphis, Houston, Florida International, and South Alabama, while TCU, LSU and Texas A&M could be very close.

A sleeper in the city is Jesuit offensive tackle Todd Jacquet, a 6-5, 265-pound offensive tackle.

"Tulane, Kentucky, FIU, Southern Miss, Louisiana-Lafayette have offered him," Keiser said. "Todd has quick feet and is athletic. He will be a 300-pounder."

Also keep an eye on Jesuit rising sophomore QB Tanner Lee (6-2, 175 pounds) next year. With a big season and continued progression, Lee could play his way into scholarship contention.

"He's a dropback guy with a big, strong arm," Keiser said. "He's also pretty athletic."

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