One step from the Super Bowl, Eagles loaded with Louisiana connections
The 15-3 Philadelphia Eagles will host the 15-4 San Francisco 49ers in a championship game Sunday that feels like the best-of-the-best matchup you look for in the NFL’s version of the final four. The Eagles, a 2.5 point favorite at home, and Niners both belong.
As for one of the many storylines, consider the Louisiana flavor on the Philly side.
Wide receiver DeVonta Smith was born in Edgemoore, Delaware but raised in Amite, La. where helped the Amite High Warriors capture the Class 3A state football championship in 2016 as title game MVP in the Superdome.
The “Slim Reaper” also won the 2020 Heisman after setting SEC records with 117 catches, 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns that season. Smith was the first receiver to capture the award since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991.
As a true freshman at Alabama in 2017, Smith made the game winning grab, a 41-yard touchdown on a 2nd and 26 in overtime that gave the Crimson tide a walkoff win over Georgia 26-23 in the national title game.
The 10th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft by the Eagles has played 34 NFL games, recording 159 catches for 2,112 yards and 12 scores. He ranks 10th in the league this season with 476 yards after the catch.
Running back Boston Scott, a Zachary, La. product, played collegiately at Louisiana Tech as a walk-on who eventually became a star. He rushed for 1,840 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Somewhat overlooked due to his lack of size at 5-6 and 203 pounds, Scott was not invited the the Indianapolis NFL Combine. Still, he was grabbed in the 6th round by the Saints in the 2018 draft. He spent a season on the practice squad before Philadelphia has justified in their move to snatch him away.
Scott has 1,209 yards rushing with 16 touchdowns plus 67 catches for 514 yards while also contributing as a return man.
Strong for his build, Scott captuted the Louisiana state powerlifting championship while at Zachary. He was coached in football by Neil Weiner, a high school teammate of Warrick Dunn at Catholic-Baton Rouge.
Patrick Johnson backs up starting strongside linebacker Haason Riddick. The former seventh round pick in 2021 after spending four seasons at Tulane set the school all-time sack record with 24.5, along with 40 tackles for losses. He was moved around the defense to utilize his skills in certain matchups with the Green Wavw, showing the pros how valuable he can be.
Defensive tackle Milton Williams, a Crowley, Texas native, was a third round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and a former LA Tech teammate of Boston Scott. Very powerful, the 6-3, 290-pound Williams recorded 34 reps on the 225 lbs. bench press test at the Combine.
Making 300 career stops for the Bulldogs with 22 QB sacks, Williams also scored four touchdowns. During his time in the City of Brotherly Love, he has made 66 tackles and 6.0 sacks.
Ian Book, a fourth round choice of the Saints in 2021, spent one season in the black and gold and made one challenging start as a rookie on Monday Night Football versus Miami for a roster severely shorthanded due to COVID-19 at the time.
Since then, the winningest QB in Notre Dame history (30-3) has not played since signing with the Eagles. He was twice team captain for former Irish coach Brian Kelly while passing for 8,948 yards, 72 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
Versatile offensive elineman Cameron Tom, also coached by Dale Weiner at Catholic, is now in his fifth NFL season. He spent 2017 to 2020 with the Saints, arriving as an undrafted free agent. Tom was All-Metro, All-State and All-District at Catholic and won the state shot put title. He started 37 games at Southern Miss, including his freshman season.
After his time in New Orleans, Tom landed with the Dolphins in 2021 and then this season with the Eagles. He made three appearances with New Orleans but was mainly on the practice squad.
We cannot forget C.J. Gardner-Johnson, the starting strong safety for Philly who a fourth round pick by the Saints in the 2019 draft.
The 5-11, 210-pound ball of energy spent three seasons with New Orleans, playing 43 games and totaling 160 tackles, five interceptions and 3.0 sacks. His 13 passes broken up in 2020 were a career high.
Gardner-Johnson was traded to the Eagles in last August for fifth and sixth round picks. This season, he has been a stalwart for the Eagles secondary with 61 tackles, six interceptions and eight pass breakups.
LAGNIAPPE: Eagles receivers coach Aaron Morehead is only one of three father/son tandems to have both won Super Bowls as players. Aaron won his with the Colts in 2007 Super Bowl XLI. His dad won his with the Chicago Bears. Other father/son pairs to accomplish the feat are quarterbacks Bob and Brian Griese as well as safety Ronnie Lott and his son Ryan Nece.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to play football at LSU, developing a passion for the game in even greater fashion while in…