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December 19, 2002
Bayou busting with junior talent
NEW ORLEANS - Fans in Louisiana some times feel slighted when it comes to rankings of their prospects. They often feel like their cousins to the West in Texas are over-ranked and that their players get under valued.
But that's not likely to happen next season, especially with the amazing group of juniors that were on display this past weekend at the Nokia Sugar Bowl Prep Classic in the Super Dome.
The early talk about who is the top player in Louisiana next season is Early Doucet of St. Martinsville.
And Doucet, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound superstar of an athlete, almost single handedly got his team to the Dome for the state championship but was beat by New Orleans O.P. Walker in the state semifinals.
Rivaling Doucet as the state's top juniors were several prospects on hand at the Dome this past weekend - including Shreveport Evangel Christian quarterback John David Booty, Patterson running back Kendrick Smith, Baton Rouge Redemptorist running back Jay Lucas and many more.
One of the more interesting prospects on hand this past weekend was Port Sulpher athlete Joshua Mackey. Even though he might project as a cornerback in college, Mackey was one of the most explosive players on Super Dome turf.
You expect good players to dominate when they're playing against Class 1A competition and that's exactly what Mackey did.
Mackey helped his team win the state championship with an 88-yard kick off return for a score and a 61-yard touchdown reception. His kickoff return was a thing of beauty when he cut through the first wave of defenders and then turned on the jets and wasn't caught from behind.
If you were looking for two running backs that pass the eye-ball test right away then the Super Dome was the place to be this weekend because Lucas of Redemptorist and Smith of Patterson more than look the part.
They also could walk the walk.
But maybe the more impressive of the two was Lucas. Simply put the kid couldn't be tackled. He would bounce of defenders like he was the little silver ball in a pinball machine and chug his way for big chunks of yards.
Lucas had 258 yards rushing in state semifinals and three touchdowns and he was equally as impressive in the state championship game, which his team won 31-19 over Patterson.
Smith also brings to the table a pretty complete package. While he might want a shot at playing running back in college, he could also make a heck of a defensive back with his long arms and solid frame.
One can't also argue with his bloodlines. He is the cousin of Ike Hilliard and definitely has some of the same big-play ability in him.
He showcased a lot of his speed against a very fast and aggressive Redemptorist defense and didn't get the touchdowns and yards that he probably wanted, but the tools for him to be a star are all there. Besides, he was a terror in the state playoffs - scoring 13 touchdowns in the final three games leading up to the state championship.
Thirteen touchdowns was not a misprint.
There were also another future star, and it wasn't easy to miss him - especially when he's 6-foot-8 and 335 pounds.
Recruiting folks, file away the name of Cleveland Johnigan of O.P. Walker. Johnigan is the biggest junior ever seen, and yes he can block.
He often did go one-on-one with Carnell Stewart, River Ridge John Curtis' star d-lineman, and showed that he's not only big, but also strong and agile for a player his size.
Johnigan has recently lost around 40 pounds and is getting himself into better and better shape. By the time he's a senior, he could be a really special player to watch.
A sophomore that caught the eye of college coaches - including LSU assistant coach Derek Dooley, who was on hand watching the this weekend - was Port Barre defensive back Chris Keys.
With two D-I caliber teammates in Daniel Francis (a recent LSU commitment) and Marvin White, Keys has just as big of an upside. Especially when you see his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame. He lined up at receiver and cornerback for the Red Devils and made quite a few big plays.
All in all, if is just a sampling of what Louisiana has to offer in the Class of 2004 and in the future, then maybe it'll be the fans in Texas that complain about prospects in Louisiana getting ranked too high.
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