There were quite a few FBS commits and prospects on display in the Superdome this weekend at the LHSAA State Championships.
John Diarse had a big game for Neville on Friday.
Several had strong performances and here is a rundown of the seniors who impressed.
ATH John Diarse, 6-0/208, Neville: Though Neville fell 29-22 to Edna Karr in the weekend’s most exciting game, the LSU pledge was unstoppable at times from his quarterback spot.
Though he threw for 151 yards and a touchdown, it was on the ground that he was at his best. Diarse has a solid build and proved tough for the Edna Karr defenders to bring down. He finished the game with 148 yards on 25 carries, including a touchdown that gave Neville a lead in the third quarter.
Diarse is likely to play wide receiver for the Tigers and, while he does not necessarily have big-time top end speed, he proved that he is good with the ball in his hands. In addition to being hard to bring down because of his size, he also showed a shiftiness that will come in handy in the slot in Baton Rouge.
TE DeSean Smith, 6-4/215, Barbe: The other LSU commit in action on the weekend, Smith stepped up on the big stage. He has been the team’s second-leading receiver each of the past two seasons to junior to Trey Quinn but Smith was the go-to option for the Bucs on Saturday evening.
The game ended up a blowout with Rummel winning but Barbe actually had the lead headed into the fourth quarter and that’s because Smith kept finding ways to get open.
Smith accounted for both of the Bucs’ touchdowns on passes of 23 and 25 yards. He showed good sped for his size and also used that size to outmuscle the defensive backs in the endzone. He actually had a third touchdown on a Hail Mary to end the half where he simply took the ball away from the defenders but it was called back on a holding penalty. Smith is not an inline tight end but LSU has some of those coming in. He will have a chance to contribute early as a flex tight end though.
LB Duke Riley, 6-1/200, John Curtis: Riley earned the second championship game MVP award of his career and he was all over the field for the Patriots. He is a bit undersized and that has kept him from more offers but he makes up for it with athleticism.
He turned the tide in the first quarter by grabbing a fumble and outrunning every Evangel play for an 80-yard touchdown. He flies to the football on defense and is good against both the pass and run. He could be a steal for one of the programs that has offered.
TE Cethan Carter, 6-4/240, Rummel: Carter has quite a few offers from some non-AQ programs but he could have played his way into a possible LSU offer on Saturday. Against a very good Barbe team, he kept finding seams in the defense. He finished with five receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Many of his yards came after the catch as he was elusive and also able to lower his shoulder and run through defenders. In a deep year at tight end in the state he has been somewhat a forgotten man but his name is back on the forefront after this weekend.
WR Trent Taylor, 5-10/175, Evangel: Taylor earned team MVP honors in the game for good reason. He had eight receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown in the first half before being forced to move to quarterback in the second due to an injury.
The Louisiana Tech pledge is certainly not imposing physically but he has some serious speed and, if he gets the ball in space, is a threat to take it to the house every time. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 62 yards on 11 carries. In Tech’s spread offense, he could prove to be a big thorn in opponents’ sides.
LB X’Zavier Preston, 5-11/220, Evangel: Preston is built like a tank at inside linebacker and he even plays a little fullback for Evangel. He was held to three tackles in the game but Curtis did not actually run many offensive plays.
Preston is committed to Oregon State and it will be interesting to see how he does against the Pac-12 spread offenses but he will come downhill and look to knock somebody out on every play against the run.
RB Sherman Badie, 5-11/190, John Curtis: The Tulane pledge was on his way to a record-setting day when he suffered a slight injury in the first half. Because of Curtis’ ridiculous stable of backs, he was not really needed the rest of the way.
Before he went out, Badie ran for 91 yards and a touchdown on only six carries. His score was his best run of the night as he hit the corner and showed both speed and good feet as he skirted defenders and the sideline for the 30-yard touchdown.
TE Standish Dobard, 6-4/245, Edna Karr: The Miami commitment seemed to have put on some bad weight this summer but he has noticeably trimmed down since then. He can play as a flex or with his hand on the ground but Karr does not use him much in the passing game – because quarterback Speedy Noil usually uses his feet to make plays.
Dobard had three catches for 26 yards in Friday night’s win, though, and also grabbed a reception on a two-point conversion. He uses his size to create mismatches and he showed better hands this weekend than he has in the past. He could be turning himself into the prospect that many hoped he’d become when they offered.
QB Damian Williams, 6-0/210, Rummel: Williams is built like a tank at quarterback. Though he’s not a dual-threat by any means he can get you yards by tucking the ball and running over defenders.
Williams has an elongated throwing motion that he will need to work on when he gets to college but he has the potential to be a good one and he has a few offers at this point. He threw for 193 yards and two scores and ran for another 52 yards on Saturday night.
CB Noel Ellis, 5-10/175, Edna Karr: The Texas A&M pledge was not tested too often on defense so Karr moved him to free safety so he could provide over-the-top help. He was in on several tackles and looked strong on defense.
Ellis is known as a dangerous return man but he had a costly fumble on a punt. However, he took a short pass 25 yards offense on a play that gave Karr momentum and that showed his elusiveness with the ball in his hands.
OG Josh Thomas, 6-6/325, Evangel: Thomas is a huge presence on the line but, despite his size, plays on the interior for Evangel. The Houston commit will likely stay at guard for the Cougars.
Thomas also spent a lot of time at defensive tackle, though he was not credited with a tackle. It showed that he has good stamina, though, as the defensive line is one of the most taxing places to play on the field.
RB Tevin Horton, 5-10/190, John Curtis: The Louisiana-Monroe commit was the second-leading rusher for Curtis, finishing the game with 52 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. He is not an incredibly big back and he could possibly even end up in the slot in Monroe but he finds a way to get yards, even in the middle.
RB Javin Webb, 5-10/185, Evangel: The move-in from Dacula, Ga. did not see many carries because of the fact that Evangel was playing catch-up throughout the entire game. He struggled between the tackles against a very good Curtis defense, finishing with 32 yards on 13 carries.
Webb did look good as a receiver, though, and proved himself to be an all-purpose back. He was seemingly always available as an outlet when the quarterback was under pressure and finished with five catches for 24 yards. He will likely commit to Houston in the near future.