Top 50 New Orleans area football recruits for Class of 2020
The 2019 football signing class has just been put to bed, so it’s time to look for the sun rising, aka the 2020 recruiting cycle already in progress.
With the continuous cycle comes the consistent hopes and dreams of fans wanting their favorite programs to sign the best of the best. I’ll lay out the current top 50 prospects from the Greater Metro area of New Orleans. Don’t fret if a player or two haven’t been ranked to meet your expectations. Players will rise and fall as the process continues.
1. WR Koy Moore (6-1, 170) Archbishop Rummel: Recently decommitted from USC. Having re-opened the process, there are a ton of schools hoping for his signature. Super work ethic. Could play CB or WR. Broken collarbone in 2017. Exceptional hands, run after catch, concentration, adjusts route to help QB.
2. RB Ashaad Clayton (6-0, 200) Warren Easton: Rushed for 1,404 yards (9.7-yard average) and 13 touchdowns in 2018. Cutback, shifty, balance, vision to see backside, patient runner. LSU has upper hand but Georgia pushing.
3. QB T.J. Finley (6-6 1/2, 230) Ponchatoula: LSU has been on him since eighth grade and is currently pledged to Tigers. Can make all the throws. Has made strides with feel for the game, has elite arm strength. Highly intelligent.
4. LB Brandon Williams (6-3, 220) Newman: Makes tackles in bunches, sideline to sideline. Great instincts as a downhill tackler. Good in open field. Diagnoses play quickly. LSU, Florida and Tennessee top three. Arkansas, Boston College, Kansas, Kentucky, Tulane, SMU, Texas A&M and Purdue in pursuit.
5. OT Sedrick Van Pran (6-4, 305) Warren Easton: Powerful blocker who explodes off snaps and dominates opponents. Shot put, discus and javelin in track. Auburn, LSU, Georgia, UL Lafayete, LA Tech, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Tulane, Alabama, Virginia and SMU.
6. SS/OLB Kelvin Burrie (6-0, 205) Helen Cox: All-state selection in 2018 with 102 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, eight sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. Athletic, can run, good coverage in space, big hitter. UTSA commitment but Mickey Joseph has been trying to sway him to LSU. Also in the mix: Kansas, Tulane, Kentucky, West Virginia, Texas A&M, Tennessee, UAB.
7. CB Darian Branch (6-2, 175) Amite: Good length, hips, runs with wide receivers, comes up to challenge run. Auburn, Kansas, Kentucky, LA Tech, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Tulane, Memphis.
8. RB Kyle Edwards (6-0, 190) Destrehan: Played in shadow of LSU signee John Emery Jr. last year. Good body lean. Tough runner, breaks tackles, north-south runner, good vision, extra gear. Arizona, Alabama, Louisville, Utah, Virginia, Kentucky.
9. TE Dustin Dyson (6-4, 210) St. Thomas Aquinas: Uses body well, hands, finds crease in zone. LSU is the leader, with Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi State pursuing.
10. DB Donovan Johnson (6-1, 180) Helen Cox: Impressive closing speed, comes up quickly. Early interest from ULM, Southern Miss, Arizona, Houston, Memphis, West Virginia, Tulane, Utah State, UL Lafayette.
11. OT/OG Josh Remetich (6-4, 275) Holy Cross: Quick engage, balance, pancake blocker, uses hands well, downfield blocker at second level, plays with attitude. Kentucky, Missouri, Tulane, La. Tech, Boston College, Virginia, ULM, Nicholls, South Alabama.
12. LB Taiwan Berryhill (6-2, 200) St. Augustine: Flies off edge, tough to block, no quit, solid open field tackler. Indiana, Kansas, Memphis, Tennessee and Southern Miss.
(tie) DE Angelo Anderson (6-2, 254) John Curtis: Had 61 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, 19 quarterback hurries in 2018. Athleticism, good effort, pass rusher. Colorado, Tennessee and Nicholls interested. TCU watching.
13. FS Raekwon Starks (5-10, 175) Helen Cox: good tackler, runs the alley, roams like a centerfielder, diagnoses quickly, kick returner. Tulane, UAB, La. Tech, UTSA, Houston, Utah State, ULM.
14. WR Trenton Grow (6-3, 185) West St. John: superb length, red zone threat, terrific leaping abilities, adjusts to throw. Tulane, UAB, South Alabama.
15. DB Donovan Kaufman (6-0, 194) Rummel: School has produced numerous secondary players for colleges. Will challenge versus run. Had 65 tackles, seven sacks, two interceptions (both returned for touchdowns) in 2018. Colorado, Vanderbilt, ULM, Tulane, Memphis, Nicholls, Northwestern State.
16. DT Patrick Jenkins (6-3, 270) John Ehret: Shows tremendous get off, splits double team, plays nasty, good feet, could play offensive tackle and has played TE. Could add 20-30 pounds to frame. Ehret has produced some defensive linemen that succeeded on next level including Theo Williams (1996 LSU) and Mike Phillips (1993 Colorado). Interested programs include Missouri, Colorado, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tulane, Kansas, ULM, South Alabama.
17. ATH Corey Wren (5-10, 170) John Curtis: Could be fastest player is state. Track speedster who won state championship in 60 meters as eighth grader. Has run 100 in 10.8, 40 in 4.3. Fastest player ever at John Curtis, including the late Joe McKnight. Getting track scholarship offers. Memphis, Tulane, Mississippi State were on him early but Boston College, LA Tech are watching closely.
18. QB Justin Ibieta (6-5, 215) Country Day: Passed for 2,902 yards and 39 touchdowns with 5 interceptions in 2018, completing 65 percent of passes. Also ran for 1,023 yards (6.9-yard average) and 17 touchdowns. A three-sport all-district performer (football, basketball, baseball). As pitcher, throws in high 80s. Currently, LSU, Wisconsin, Tulane and Houston are monitoring closely. Should move up rankings.
19. WR Khi Mathieu (5-11, 165) St. Augustine: Honey Badger’s cousin. Crafty wideout with good hands, makes one hand grabs, fast out of cuts, runs solid routes. LA Tech, Southern Miss, Tulane, Memphis, Tennessee, UTSA, Idaho, UAB.
20. ATH Shamar Smith (5-10, 160) St. James: Accounted for 2,033 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2018, playing both QB and WR. Three-sport athlete who plays basketball and runs 100, 110 hurdles and long jump in track. Colorado, Tulane, Toledo, Kansas, Texas State, ULM, Northwestern State, Nicholls, Memphis, South Alabama.
21. CB Jamie Vance (5-11, 170) Edna Karr: Smooth hips, ball skills, transitions well. Arkansas likes him. Also drawing interest from Texas State, UTSA, Memphis, ULM, LA Tech, Houston, UL Lafayette, SMU and Kansas.
22. S Nick Turner (6-1, 178) Brother Martin: Plays bigger, around ball, single high safety, covers lots of ground, good break on ball, anticipates, transitions out of back pedal. Three-star prospect has Memphis, Texas Tech, Southern Miss, Virginia, Tulane and SMU on list.
23. WR Tyler Kirkwood (6-1, 190) Holy Cross: Good hands, hard worker. Scored three touchdowns against Shaw last fall. Interest from LA Tech, UTSA, Boston College.
24. DT Mason Narcisse (6-2, 280) St. Charles Catholic: Can play interior on either offensive or defensive line. Has 310-pound bench press, 485 squat. Shot putter in track. Great feet, pass rusher, powerful at point of attack, will chase down play. UL Lafayette likes a lot, Wisconsin watching with interest. He could move up.
25. DT Sonny Hazard (6-1, 280) Jesuit: Dad, John, was a prep All-American at Jesuit in 1982 and an all-SEC guard at LSU in 1986. Extremely hard worker, very physical, won’t stay blocked. Has 365-pound bench press. Powerful hands. Some like him as offensive guard. Has early offer from Tulane. LSU, Texas A&M, Purdue and Vanderbilt watching.
26. ATH Cornelius Dyson (6-2, 182) Kentwood: Has 3.5 GPA, can run, very athletic, vicious tackler, closing speed, blitz off edge. Early interest from Tulane, Idaho, UL Lafayette.
27. OLB Edgerrin Cooper (6-3, 200) Covington: Good blitzer, will chase down play, plays under control, shoots gap. Tulane offer, Mississippi State watching.
28. RB Harlan Dixon (6-0, 175) Slidell: Versatile back who compiled 1,682 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, 819 receiving yards and eight TDs in 2018. Against Ponchatoula had 247 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns. Tulane offer.
29. S Quinton “Pig” Cage (5-10, 185) Archbishop Rummel: Great tandem at Rummel with Donovan Kaufman. Had 73 tackles, four forced fumbles and seven sacks. Good effort, plays in box, forces turnovers, blitz off edge. Can move up as process continues. Tulane, Nicholls, Northwestern State.
30. ILB Bryce Cooper (5-11, 225) Kentwood: Downhill tackler, good leverage, jolts RB. Tulane offer.
31. WR Jarmone Sutherland (5-11, 175) Newman: Good routes, hands. Hard worker. Early interest from Princeton and Tulane.
32. LB Tyler Grubbs (6-0, 220) Holy Cross: All-state selection each of last two seasons with 289 total tackles, nine sacks and three interceptions. Diagnoses play quickly, has good first step and can make game-changing hits. Very physical. Visits Auburn and Tennessee soon. State schools watching.
33. DT Brandon Groves (6-1, 250) Belle Chasse: Can play 3-technique or nose tackle. Leverage, uses hands well, hard tackler, anticipates where play is going. Handles offensive line. McNeese is first to show interest.
34. QB Collin Guggenheim (5-11, 190) John Curtis: Has started at quarterback since his freshman year for Patriots. Runs 40 in 4.53. Similar to Nicholls QB Chase Fourcade. Three-sport athlete who also plays baseball and basketball. Was Catholic League football MVP last season, when he passed for 1,126 yards and 15 touchdowns and ran for 1.096 yards and 10 scores in leading Patriots to Division I title in December .Considering offers from Army, Navy, SLU and Nicholls. Some like as safety on defense.
35. WR Jacoby Williams (6-1, 185) Lutcher: Adjusts to throw, gets yards after catch, can make big plays on jet sweeps, great stride, elusive. Nicholls is first to show interest.
36. RB Corey Warren (5-10, 205) Pearl River: Had 1,526 yards rushing (5.8 yard average) and 27 touchdowns last season. Has 3.0 GPA. ULM and UL Lafayette are watching.
37. DE Kershawn Fisher (6-3, 225) Northshore: Great first step, crashes down line, very active. Had 75 stops, 15 sacks and four blocked kicks in 2018. Has 3.5 GPA. State schools, Tulane and Southern Miss watching.
38. OLB Wayne Galloway (6-1, 215) St. Paul’s: Superb tackler, processes quickly. Solid academically with 23 ACT, 3.83 GPA. Moves well in space. State schools.
39. ATH Josh White (5-8, 155) St. Augustine: Runs 40 in 4.5. Played quarterback as sophomore. Super athletic, tough, exciting runner, understands routes. Has returned kicks. Could play DB at next level.
40. CB Rodney Johnson (6-1, 180) Edna Karr: Athletic player with good length and reach and explosive hips. Is good in press coverage and mirrors wide receivers. Runs on Karr’s 4×100 and 4×200-meter relay teams. Attending camps will help. State and SWAC schools.
41. CB Brandon James (5-8, 160) John Ehret: Athletic, good open field tackler. Excels in back pedal and transitions. Dangerous punt returner. Runs 40 in 4.5. State schools.
42. WR Dontae Fleming (6-1, 165) East St. John: Good routes and hands, makes tough catches in crowd, finds opening in secondary, high points ball. Center fielder in baseball. State schools showing most interest, but Mickey Joseph (LSU) and J.J. McCleskey (Tulane) keeping tabs.
43. RB/SS Corey McKnight (5-10, 185) Amite: Gives maximum effort and has big play potential. State schools.
44. S Christian Westcott (6-0, 180) Lakeshore: Was defensive player of the year on All-District 8-4A team last year. Had 72 tackles, eight sacks, seven blocked punts and 12 hurries. Blitzes off edge and has great timing. Outstanding third baseman in baseball. State schools.
45. CB Donte Thomas (6-0, 170) John Curtis: Had four interceptions last year despite missing four games. Ball skills, hips, athleticism, good break off back pedal. State/SWAC schools.
46. P/K Austin McCready (6-1, 175) John Curtis: In addition to kicking duties, also is Patriots’ backup quarterback. Was 10 of 10 on field goals in 2018, including 47-yarder vs. Holy Cross. Had 40-yard average as punter. Corner infielder in baseball. State schools will show interest, but could be a preferred walk-on at FBS level.
47. RB Damond Leonard (5-7, 180) John Ehret: Runs 40 in 4.5. Tough between-tackles runner who topped 1,000 yards rushing in 2018. Instinctive player who has good balance, delivers hit and, can break tackles. Had 141 yards rushing vs. Landry-Walker. State schools.
48. LB Shaiheem Harris (6-0, 220) John Ehret: Fills gap quickly, sideline to sideline, instinctive, physical, downhill tackler. State/SWAC schools.
49. RB/CB Wantrell Williams (5-11, 185) West St. John: Class 1A all-state DB last season is super quick, athletic. State/SWAC schools.
50. QB Leonard Kelly (6-0, 185) Edna Karr: Passed for 2,630 yards with 37 touchdowns and only five interceptions in leading Cougars to third straight Class 4A title. Good athlete. State/SWAC schools.
So there you have the starting point. This list will change as we move along. Stay tuned.
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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 be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…