Former Rummel stars Chase, Fulton poised to live up to their number with Tigers

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Ja'Marr Chase
(Photo: Jonathan Mailhes)

Both players wear No. 1.

Both players played at a storied high school program that finished the past season No. 1 in Division I.

Now, both are part of the No. 1 team in college football with a chance to finish No. 1 in their hometown.

For former Archbishop Rummel stars Ja’Marr Chase and Kristian Fulton, the paths to LSU were similar.

The journey at LSU has been significantly different.

The appreciation both have for where they are now is mutual.

Chase made his mark at Rummel beginning as a sophomore. He became a star as a junior and a superstar as a senior, when he hauled in 61 passes for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Raiders.

Overall, Chase had 115 receptions for 2,152 yards and 30 touchdowns at Rummel.

At LSU, he is approaching those numbers in just two seasons.

The Biletnikoff award winner as the top receiver in the country, Chase has been tremendous, flourishing under the spread attack of Steve Ensminger and Joe Brady, engineered by Joe Burrow.

Interestingly enough, there were whispers in his freshman year about Chase.

Was he not quite as good as his lofty high school ranking as a four-star player? Was he motivated enough? Was he tough enough?

Having done several of Ja’Marr’s games at Rummel, I certainly had the answers to those questions.

Chase was the real deal. He was extremely motivated, determined to prove his worth. He was tough as nails, part of what made him the player he was in high school and is now.

Chase is realizing his full potential.

He runs precise, physical routes. He can high-point the ball, fight through contact and has strong hands to catch the ball fully extended from his body.

While not a speed burner or extremely tall receiver, Chase is a smooth runner and runs well. He has all of the tools to be the elite college receiver that he is and to be a terrific professional player when done at LSU.

Fulton was the elite of the elite, ranked as a five-star player.

He was brilliant at Archbishop Rummel, recording 11 interceptions as a junior as perhaps the best defensive player in the state. In so many of the Raider games which I was fortunate to broadcast, Fulton made the biggest plays of the game. It was foolish to even look his way if you were an opposing quarterback.

He arrived at LSU with the highest of expectations.

After playing in three games as a freshman, Fulton was suspended for a failed drug test for two years, a ruling he vigorously fought. It was a very tough time for a very good young man.

After a nearly 19-month compliance battle, Fulton was reinstated by the NCAA.

Fulton has passed every subsequent test and he has graduated from school.

Teams have not targeted Fulton that much this season, despite the presence of freshman superstar Derrick Stingley Jr. on the other side.

Fulton projects as a late first-round draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

He is all the way back. His cover skills are excellent and he has the speed to play smaller receivers and the size to play bigger receivers.

Both Chase and Fulton played for legendary Rummel coach Jay Roth.

“Ja’Marr was so strong physically,” Roth said. “That included running with the ball after the catch and blocking. He has strong hands and his athleticism is superb. He will go up and get any ball against anyone. I am not surprised at all about what he has done.”

Roth remembers two games in which Chase excelled.

“The Byrd game his senior year comes to mind and that was his final game with us,” Roth said. He caught five touchdown passes in the game and we won 55-28 and was magnificent but then it did not end well. When the stands went silent on both sides when he got hurt near the end of the game. While he could not play for us the following week at Evangel, he was able to get healthy and you see what he is all about now.”

Chase had four touchdown game against U-High at the beginning of his junior year in a 28-14 victory.

“That’s when we knew we really had something special,” Roth said. “University High had very good players and the Cubs were on the verge of becoming a dominant state championship program.”

Roth remembers two games in which Fulton excelled.

“In consecutive games in his junior year, he was the best player on the field by far in a pair of big Catholic League games,” Roth said. “Against Holy Cross, he picked off three passes as we won 31-7. The next week, he picked off two passes as we defeated Brother Martin 45-24. He was fantastic. It was not too smart to throw the ball his way.”

Roth remembers being shocked when Fulton was offered a scholarship at the age of 14.

“When Jabbar Juluke was at Louisiana Tech, Kristian was in the spring of his freshman year,” Roth said. “Juluke said he wanted to offer him a scholarship then due to his long arms and great ball skills. Jabbar still reminds us he was the first to offer him. He is a great athlete and cover corner who can break on the ball and high-point it. What stands out most about him is how humble he was and remains. He is a really good young man.”

Another thing Roth appreciated about Chase and Fulton is how active they were at Rummel.

“Both Ja’Marr and Kristian were three-sport lettermen,” Roth said. Both competed in basketball and track and field. Both won individual state titles in track and field. Both came to us wanting to play basketball, which was their first love. Needless to say, it is a good thing they changed their minds. It is safe to say they made the correct decisions.”

Despite being busy at LSU, both former Raider stars remain close to and loyal to their alma mater.

“Both Ja’Marr and Kristian have come to Rummel games this past year,” Roth said. “They love the school and the school loves them. They and their families keep in touch. Ja’Marr tried to call me the night he won the Biletnikoff award.”

Former Rummel wide receiver Evan Francioni and special teams player Colby Brunet are walk-on players on the current LSU team as well.

“We are very proud of Evan and Colby and very happy for them as well,” Roth said.

Rummel is enjoying the exposure both No. 1 Tigers are bringing to Severn Avenue.

“It brings great notoriety to our school,” Roth said. “Kristian had a bump in the road but he is a really good young man who already has his degree. We had four guys on the 2003 national championship team (Kevin Steltz, Nick Child, Michael Russo, Garret Wibel) and three on the 2007 national championship team (Craig Steltz, Cole Louviere, Daniel Graff). Perhaps this is a sign of things to come Monday night. We are very proud of Ja’Marr, Kristian, Colby and Evan and they are Raiders for life.”

And Tigers for life, as well.

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Ken Trahan

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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