Top 50 metro New Orleans football recruits in Class of 2020 (part 1)

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Harlan Dixon
Slidell’s Harlan Dixon has verbally committed to Louisiana Tech.

It’s been somewhat quiet lately in recruiting circles as seasons on the college and prep levels are well underway. However, there are some final decisions that will come soon come to light.

The early signing period is December 18 so the hay is in the barn, so to speak, for many high major college recruiters. Some programs already have their full allotment of 25 pledges for the 2020 class. Verbal commitments are not binding, of course, so we’ll see some back room pitches made by college assistants to key prospects both committed and not, hoping to convince them at the 11th hour.

February signing day is still a fall back option but with the new early signing period, head coaches want to finalize most of their recruiting classes early so that they can move forward and focus on specific needs when filling the final few slots.

Having set the scene, here are the top 50 (or so) prospects from the Greater New Orleans Metro area for 2020 as I have ranked and rated them. This list is only for reference and certainly open for debate.

We’re breaking the list in half, concerntrating on 26-50 in reverse order. With much of the ’19 campaign along with the playoffs in the offing, some of these prospects can elevate their statuses. Recruiting eyes are always watching.

50-OG Tajon Barrow (6-2, 285) Warren Easton…smart, very physical, improved his mobility with pulls, good at point of attack. SWAC and Southland prospect.

49-(tie) FS Jaleb Ned (6-1, 190) De La Salle…skilled enough to play basketball in college. As a sophomore he had roundball offers from USC and Tulane. Called the “best athlete on the Cavalier squad,” he was a wideout as a freshman. Since concentrating more on football, he has gotten better everyday. Football is now main focus for college. Runs 4.48 forty. Will get offers as process continues.

(tie) DT Brendon Groves (6-1, 250) Belle Chasse…leverage, good hands, hard tackler, 3-tech or NT projection. McNeese offer.

48-MLB Ashton Robinson (5-11, 225) De La Salle…a “steal” for someone. Downhill tackler, fills hole quickly, diagnosis, started as freshman, tore knee ligaments last season, takes no false steps, 4.7 forty, offers from Prairie View, Alcorn, Southern, Jackson State.

47-WR Jewell Holmes (6-2, 194) Warren Easton…hands, routes, go-to receiver who also stretches defenses with 4.5 speed, super blocker. Northwestern State, South Alabama.

46-CB Taquan Thomas (6-0, 190) Kennedy…shadows receiver step for step, good out of back pedal, flips hips, forces turnovers, will lay the wood to runner. ULM, SLU, Middle Tennessee, Northwestern State and Nicholls.

45-OL Noah Devlin (6-3, 295) De La Salle …All Metro, good feet, played basketball, has just begun football journey, also was pitcher/first baseman in baseball. Now focused on football. Sun Belt schools are watching.

44-WR Josh White (5-8, 155) St. Aug…played QB as sophomore super effort guy, return specialist, exciting runner after catch, understands routes, 4.5 speed, 2.9 GPA. Lamar and Tulane are interested.

43-SS Jacoby Wells (6-1, 200) Helen Cox…vicious hitter, closing speed. Air Force, ULM, Colorado, Navy, McNeese, Nicholls, Northwestern State.

42-DB Christian Westcott (6-1, 185) Lakeshore…District 8-4A defensive MVP, baseball SS/3B, blitzes off the edge. In 2018, he had 72 tackles, 8 sacks, 7 blocked punts, 12 QB hurries. Drawing interest from Southland Conference programs.

41-QB Leonard Kelly (5-11, 185) Edna Karr…threw for 2,630 yards, 37 touchdowns/5 interceptions in 2018. Over 1,000 yards passing thus far this season. Nicholls, Northwestern State have offered.

40-(tie) CB/WR Brandon James (5-0, 185) Ehret…athletic, dangerous returner, good in and out of backpedal, plays with confidence in coverage…SWAC, Southland interest.

(tie) DB Corey Smooth (6-0, 180) Rummel…Nicholls commit, devastating hitter, 2.9 GPA, injured missed 4 games in ’18,outstanding PG in basketball with offer from Lamar for hardwood.

39-WR Jarmone Sutherland (5-11, 175) Newman…3.1 GPA, 21 ACT, super IQ, understands routes, velcro hands, physical, catches in a crowd, All Time receiver in Greenie history when he leaves. Air Force, Navy, Princeton, UAB, UNLV, South Alabama, Tulane, Southern Miss, Nicholls.

38-WR Dontae Fleming (6-0, 190) East St. John…ULL pledge, CF in baseball, good routes, catches in a crowd, high points passes.

37-Safety Quinton “Pig” Cage (5-10-183) Rummel…blitzes off the edge, a playmaker, plays like a LB in box, recognizes quickley. In 2018, he had 73 tackles, 7 sacks, 5 PBU…Liberty, Tulane, Northwestern State, Nicholls, Austin Peay.

36 (tie) DE Jordan Williams (6-0, 244) Rummel…South Alabama commit, In 2018, he had 60 stops, 8.5 sacks, 4 FF. flies off edge, will chase play, uses hands.

(tie) OC Brian Balestra (6-4, 270) Jesuit. Extremely long arms, great upside, high IQ, over 4.0 GPA in advanced classes, technique, good balance, super first step, doesn’t over extend, 405 squat. Offers from Yale, Richmond, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth. Watch his progress. He loved LSU growing up. Offers will increase as he faces top competition this season.

35-DT Adonis Friloux (6-2, 288) Hahnville…Houston commit, powerful w/ 335 lbs. bench press & 550 squat, beats double team, dominates interior, 5.0 forty. Had 107 tackles, 21 TFL, 11.5 sacks in 2018.

34-ILB Bryce Cooper (5-8, 227) Kentwood…jolts runner with his hits, Sam Mills type player, gets under pads, leverage, knock out hits.

33-CB Cornelius Dyson (6-2, 182) Kentwood…Tulane commit, 3.5 GPA, long jumps over 22′, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, Very athletic, violent collisions, blitzes

32-QB Collin Guggenheim (5-11, 200) John Curtis…Army pledge, Catholic League MVP last season, proven winner, starter since freshman year, could play strong safety, similar recruit to Rummel’s Chase Fourcade (multi-year QB starter at Nicholls).

31-WR Tyler Kirkwood (6-0, 185) Holy Cross…2018-50 catches, 900 yards, 8 touchdowns. Strong after catch, hard worker, added muscle, good separation, 3 touchdowns vs. Shaw last fall, plays basketball, will lay out for catch…Boston College, Houston, La. Tech, Memphis, Tulane, Northwestern State, UTSA.

30-RB Harlan Dixon (6-0, 182) Slidell…La. Tech commit, complete back, elusive, physical, YAC. In 2018, he had 1,682 yards (7.7 yards) 15 touchdowns, caught 37 passes for 817 yards and 8 touchdowns including 247 yards and 5 touchdowns vs. Ponchatoula.

29. (tie) OLB Kershawn Fisher (6-2, 210) Northshore, 3.5 GPA, very physical, locates ball, covers flat, pass rusher,explosive, great first step,athletic. In 2018, he had 75 tackles, 15 sacks, 4 blocked field goals. UTSA, Air Force, La. Tech, ULL, Arkansas State, ULM, Kansas State, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee. Could play TE, SS or DE.

(tie) DB Kevin Bickham (6-1, 176) Amite…dangerous speed (4.37), blitzes off edge, sure tackler, instinctive, turned heads at New Orleans Opening. Offers Kentucky, South Alabama, ULM, Southern Miss, Good showing at Mississippi State camp.

28-DE/OLB Khari “Duke” Coleman (6-2, 213) Carver…Kansas commit, 3.7 GPA, hot motor, can take over a game, disruptive, shows no quit. SMU, Boston College, Houston, Kansas State, Tulane, West Virginia, Rice, Troy, La. Tech, Tennessee and Navy are trying to flip him.

27-DT Sonny Hazard (6-1, 295) Jesuit…ULL commit, 375 lbs.bench press, 525 squat. Should move up charts. Best d-lineman in Catholic League. 4.95 forty. Dad (John) was prep All American at Jesuit in 1982 and All SEC at LSU in 1986. Sonny is powerful, nasty, heavy hands, won’t stay blocked.

26-LB Tyler Grubbs (6-0, 228) Holy Cross…La. Tech commit…2018 All State after recording 152 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 interceptions. The previous season had 158 stops, 3 interceptions, a pair of sacks. (see a pattern here). Very consistent. Game changing hits.

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Rene Nadeau

Rene Nadeau

CCS/Fox Sports/ESPN/WFAN

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 be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…

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