River Parishes produce NFL’s ‘cream of the crop’
It is amazing to watch college and professional football games and see all the talent coming out of the state of Louisiana.Quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning (Newman High School) have established themselves as two of the elite players in the league along with Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne (John Ehret High School) and Tennessee Titans offensive center Kevin Mawae (Leesville High School), but it is the long array of talent from the Bayou/River Parish areas that really catches your eye.
Four-time Pro Bowler Ed Reed with the Baltimore Ravens looks to be putting together another Pro-Bowl type season. Reed, who prepped at Destrehan High School, is one of the leaders on one of the top defensive units in pro football with the Ravens and he has recorded 25 tackles, 7 pass deflections and three pass interceptions in 2008.
This past weekend, against the Philadelphia Eagles, Reed intercepted 2 passes and returned one 108 yards for a touchdown, the longest interception return for a score in NFL history.
Reed may well be joined in Hawaii by another River Parish product in former Hahnville High School and LSU standout LaRon Landry. Landry, who the Washington Redskins selected in the opening round in 2008 and was an NFC Pro Bowl alternate in his rookie season, has registered 43 tackles and broke up 7 passes in 2008. Opposing coaches have given out major kudos to Landry for his play against the run and his ability to match up against receivers downfield.
Another performer who looks to be making his first trip to Hawaii is former Destrehan High School and current San Diego Chargers punter Mike Scifres. Scifres, who has punted in the AFC shadow of perennial Pro-Bowl punter Shane Lechler (Oakland Raiders), has the best net punting average in the AFC, with a 42.9 yards per punt average and second best gross average per punt in the AFC with an average of 48 yards per kick.
Despite the fact that the Chargers have had a disappointing 2008 season Scifres has emerged as the elite punter in the AFC.
New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs has also established himself as one of the top backs in pro football. Jacobs, who prepped at Assumption High School, entered this weekend’s games with the fourth best rushing total in the NFC with 879 yards and one of the league’s top average per carry with 5.4 yards per rush average and 11 rushing touchdowns.
Jacobs, along with excellent play of cornerback Corey Webster from St. James High School and LSU, have made the Giants the top football team in the NFC in 2008 and they are making a strong defense of their Super Bowl championship title run in 2007.
The professional ranks are not the only area to catch standout players from our own area of the state.
Damaris Johnson from Destrehan High School has emerged as one of the top true freshman football players in college football America.
Johnson, is the Hurricane’s leading receiver in 2008 and he has caught 36 passes for 500 yards, averaged 13.9 yards per catch and scored 8 touchdowns.
The 5-7 ½, 175-pounder has also rushed for 217 yards and averaged 7.0 yards per carry and emerged as one of the top kickoff return men in the country with an average of 26.2 yards per return and brought one back for a score for the Hurricanes.
While Johnson has made his mark on offense in 2008, former Destrehan High School standout Darryl Richard has made his mark on defense for Georgia Tech.
The 6-3, 295 pound senior is considered one of the top run-stuffers at defensive tackle in college football and he has recorded 31 tackles, 10 tackles for losses and 4 quarterback sacks this season. Richard, who has also excelled in the classroom, is projected to be selected in either the fourth or fifth round of the 2009 draft and he will shortly be getting invitations to some of the top senior post-season bowl games.
While Richard has excelled in the Atlantic Coach Conference, former Hahnville High School standout Kentrell Lockett has emerged as a top-flight defensive end in the Southeast Conference.
Lockett, who is part of a three-man rotation at defensive end for the Rebels, has registered 32 tackles, 9 tackles for losses, forced 2 fumbles and blocked one kick that ensured Ole Miss a victory over Florida midway during the college football season.
And to add to this lengthy list, how about the accomplishments of former St. Charles High School and current UL-Lafayette halfback Tyrell Fenroy.
Fenroy has rushed for 1,292 yards and scored 17 touchdowns in 2008 and he became one of only 7 players in NCAA history to rush for over 1,000 yards in four consecutive college seasons.
The finalist for the Doak Walker Award, given to the college running back in college football, is the leading rusher in UL-Lafayette history and the leading rusher in the history of the Sun Belt Conference.
All that and more from this little piece of the football world.
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