Tyron Johnson and Donté Jackson met as middle schoolers playing basketball at Lemon Gym in Metairie.
Johnson, a star wide receiver at Warren Easton, and Jackson, who did a little bit of everything at Riverdale, have been friends ever since.
“Well, we’re more like brothers,” Johnson said.
And like most brothers, they are super-competitive — a trait that has helped the two blossom into arguably Louisiana’s most electrifying football players in the Class of 2015.
“We are like brothers, so we both want to be better than each other,” Jackson said. “It definitely helps us work harder.”
Jackson insists he’s the better of the two in hoops.
“By far,” Jackson said with a laugh.
Not that anyone really cares about that.
It’s all about football.
Who’s better in that?
“Oh, now that’s a toss-up,” Jackson said.
Collectively, they racked up over 3,000 yards of offense this season.
Johnson would often just juke his way past a helpless defender to lead Easton.
The speedy Jackson would simply fly past one for Riverdale.
In the fall, they’ll get to play for the same team.
They will officially become teammates when they sign with LSU on Wednesday, better known as National Signing Day.
“Our relationship and our bond is so close,” said Jackson. “We always talked about going to the same school since we first started getting recruited. But at the end of the day, he knew he had to do what was best for him and I had to do what was best for me. It just happened to be the same school.”
Johnson committed to the Tigers first. And he was there at Riverdale two weeks ago when Jackson made his commitment, giving Les Miles two of the state’s top playmakers.
Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 190 pound five-star recruit, is a consensus pick as the state’s top player by recruiting services.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Jackson, is rated the No. 3 player in the state by 247Sports and Rivals.com.
“They are very similar guys,” said JC Shurburtt, nationanl recruiting analyst for 247Sports. “They both are dynamic players with speed. They are guys who can make a lot of plays in the SEC, the highest level of FCS football. They are game-breakers.”
The versatile Jackson, who recorded 59 tackles as a senior, is expected to play cornerback in college.
And that means he’ll often get to go head-to-head with his close friend in practice.
“That’s going to help Donte and it’s going to help me,” Johnson said.
The two work out together, so they have battled one-on-one enough to offer scouting reports about each other..
“Short routes against him are not available,” Johnson said. “He’s going to break it up. You need a perfect quarterback and a perfect route.Your best option is try to go over the top. Donté is so fast that he will let you get in front of him, but he’s going to catch you.”
Jackson had equally high praise for Johnson, who caught 94 passes for 1,589 yards to lead Easton to the Class 4A state title game.
“Most people don’t know his game like I do,” Jackson said. “If you have seen him play, there is really no way of stopping him. You just try to contain him. I try to get aggressive with him and get in his head. But he is a great player so you really have to be on it and you have to study film all week.”
Both players realize that with the lofty rankings come lofty expectations. And they insist the rankings won’t stop them from working to get better.
“Five star or four-star, I’m still 5-foot-10, 170 pounds,” Jackson said. “So I still have a huge chip on my shoulder. I still feel like I have to prove myself. Plus we know playing in the SEC West isn’t going to be a walk in the park. You have to be physically ready so I am never just lying around in the bed. I’m studying or working out or something.”
And so is Johnson — who, unlike Jackson, gave up basketball to concentrate on football. Jackson still plays basketball at Riverdale.
“Tyron is in the lab working more than me,” Jackson said. “While I’m playing basketball, he is always working on his craft.”
Neither player seems to care who is ranked higher.
“We kept up with it when we were high school players,” Johnson said. “But we sign (Wednesday), so we are college players now and we don’t worry about that.”
As usual, Jackson agreed.
“Regardless of who is No. 1, we just want to play ball,” Jackson said. “We are just thinking about winning a national championship and getting on campus and making a difference in the state and for LSU. That’s the only thing on our minds. We are both fired up and ready to get started.”