Metro area boasts many male student-athletes signing with top academic institutions

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Grant Jordan No. 3
Jesuit’s Grant Jordan

For many years, the academic reputation nationally has not painted the state of Louisiana in the best light.

A story from published on Feb. 17 listed the rankings for the best education offered by all 50 states. Louisiana ranked 48th overall out of 50, ahead of only New Mexico and Alabama.

Of course, it is easy to cast aspersions and to paint the academic landscape with a broad, even somewhat reckless brush.

Measures have been taken to improve education throughout the state at every level with the increase in magnet and charter schools beginning at the kindergarten level. Requirements and curriculum have improved as well. Private schools here in the New Orleans area and throughout the state have always done a good job.

While there is wide range for improvement and while we must strive daily to improve our academic standing and offerings on a statewide basis, there is an uptick which is detectable.

The evidence is certainly palpable in athletics.

There are many top Louisiana students annually who sign with top schools around the country.

The 2020 prep football signing class from the Greater New Orleans area was an impressive one on the field.

It is perhaps more impressive off the field, with 23 student-athletes from the area signing with the top 100 ranked academic universities in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report.

To gain admittance into these superb institutions, student-athletes must qualify and have the ability to handle the substantive curriculum that will be thrown at them at the next level.

Grant Jordan of Jesuit will continue his education and football career with Yale, which is ranked tied for No. 3 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

Newman wide receiver Jarmone Sutherland is heading to Dartmouth, the No. 12 ranked academic institution.

Archbishop Rummel state defensive Most Valuable Player Donovan Kaufman and Mandeville wide receiver Will Sheppard have inked with Vanderbilt, ranked 16th in the country.

Brother Martin defensive end Noah Labbe is on his way to Cornell, ranked 17th in the nation.

Jesuit offensive lineman Brian Balestra has signed with Georgetown, ranked 23rd in the country.

Rummel cornerback Gavin Holmes signed with Wake Forest, ranked No. 27.

Newman defensive end/linebacker Brandon Williams and safety Donovan Johnson of Helen Cox each inked with Virginia, ranked No. 28 in the country.

Country Day QB Ibieta
Justin Ibieta (Photo: Parker Waters)

Tulane, ranked No. 40 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, got Country Day quarterback Justin Ibieta, John Curtis Christian defensive end Angelo Anderson, Holy Cross tackle Josh Remetich, Kentwood athlete Cornelius Dyson and Destrehan lineman Noah Taliancich.

Offensive lineman Sedrick Van Pran of Warren Easton and cornerback Daran Branch of Amite each signed with Georgia, ranked No. 50.

Corey Wren of John Curtis Christian inked with Florida State, ranked No. 57.

Linebacker Edgerrin Cooper of Covington signed with Texas A&M, ranked No. 70.

Defensive lineman Patrick Jenkins of John Ehret and Carver linebacker/defensive end Khari Coleman each inked with TCU, ranked No. 97.

Two area quarterbacks and a running back are heading to prestigious military academies.

Torrence Bardell of Bonnabel signed with the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Navy is the No. 1 ranked public school in the country and No. 17 among National Liberal Arts colleges.

Collin Guggenheim of John Curtis Christian signed with the United States Military Academy at West Point. Army is ranked second among public schools in the country and No. 21 among National Liberal Arts colleges. In addition, Lusher Charter running back Myles Stewart also signed with Army.

Four more male student-athletes from the other major sports will also continue their careers at top-ranked institutions of learning.

TJ Small 360
TJ Small (Photo: Bill Arthurs)

In basketball, T.J. Small of Brother Martin is on his way to Army, joining Guggenheim and Stewart.

In baseball, former Jesuit star Seth Dardar of Holy Cross will attend Columbia, tied for the third-ranked school in the nation. Rummel star Jackson Dennies has signed with Notre Dame, ranked 15th by U.S. News and World Report. Brian Vailgosky of Jesuit is bound for Tulane.

That numbers 27 student-athletes on the way to top universities and includes 16 from private schools and 11 from public schools, a very positive reflection on both entities.

Of course, there are many good universities throughout Louisiana and we are always pleased, most pleased when our own stay home, attending in-state colleges, as is the case with so many who will attend Grambling, LSU, the University of Louisiana (Lafayette), Louisiana Tech, McNeese, Nicholls, Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana, Southern and ULM.

We are also pleased and proud of those attending the top academic schools in the country and representing our state in outstanding fashion and in that regard, 2020 is a banner year for the best of our student-athletes in Louisiana.

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Ken Trahan


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 with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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