Banks Menard still remembers the first time he heard about Kevin Faulk.
He was on the staff of new Carencro High School coach Mac Barousse at the time, when the town’s middle school coach showed up at practice with a proclamation.
Carencro Middle coach Billy McCauley told him and Barousse that this seventh grader he had would be the best thing ever to hit the field at Carencro High.
At the time, an All-State caliber quarterback named Greg Laxey had just left the program to begin a college career with the hometown Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns.
“We were like, ‘Yeah, right,’ but I decided that I had to go see this kid,” Menard said. “I watched this kid beat Anderson Middle, which I’m not sure had ever lost a game before, by himself. He was incredible.”
As quickly as he could, Menard reported back to Barousse.
“Coach, you’ve got a stud coming up,” he exclaimed. “Kevin Faulk is the real deal.”
For the next two decades, that seventh grader proceeded to make McCauley a prophet.
As a freshman at Carencro High, he intercepted nine passes while starting at safety. As a sophomore, he led the Bears to the first football state championship in Lafayette Parish history.
“Even as a freshman, his work ethic was relentless,” former Carencro High assistant coach Tony Courville said. “Sure, he had a lot of God-given talent, but his mental strengths were as big or bigger than his physical strengths.
“I’ll never forget this 15-year-old kid during a big moment in the state championship game tap Mac on the shoulder and say, ‘I got it, Coach.’ You don’t see that very often.”
The two-time state offensive MVP and USA Today and Parade All-American headed to LSU, where he helped the Tigers to three winning seasons in a row after the program had endured six consecutive losing seasons before his arrival.
Faulk was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round in 1999. During his 13 years with the Patriots, he played in five Super Bowls, winning three. He was honored on the Patriots’ 50-year anniversary team and finished as the franchise’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards.
All of those statistics, though, only begin to provide the reasons why Faulk is “the real deal.” His impact on football in Louisiana will be cemented forever with his induction into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame on June 27 in Natchitoches.
“This honor is a big one,” Faulk said. “This is home. This is recognition from your peers back home.”
Home has always meant a big deal to Faulk. These days, he’s back at Carencro High coaching, hoping to provide leadership for today’s youth.
“This is where I come from,” he said. “I take it very seriously. I’ve been there. I know the things that these kids learn in high school are lessons they can take with them moving forward.”
The players Faulk is currently coaching weren’t alive back in 1992, when he began to emerge as a sophomore quarterback.
“When you’re a sophomore, you’re not even thinking about pressure,” Faulk said. “Truthfully, I didn’t feel any pressure. What pressure? All I had to do was hand the ball off to Ernest Lazard or Derrick Beavers. That wasn’t pressure.”
By the end of his high school career, Faulk had amassed 4,877 rushing yards (8.1 per carry) and 7,612 all-purpose yards with 89 touchdowns.
“He was always thinking that there was something he could do better,” Menard said. “He worked at it. He went that extra mile. He had speed, vision and such a great knowledge of the game. He had passion for the game. When you have it, you have it. He’s one of those athletes that you only get every 10 or 20 years.”
Faulk’s running backs coach at LSU, Michael Haywood, said it didn’t take long to realize what kind of superior athlete Faulk was.
“Kevin Faulk was the smartest football player I ever coached and the most competitive athlete I ever coached,” Haywood said. “He saw things before it happened. He understood the technique and the fundamentals so well.”
When Faulk left LSU, his 4,557 rushing yards were second in Southeastern Conference history — behind only Georgia’s Herschel Walker — and his 6,833 all-purpose yards were fifth in NCAA history and tops in the SEC. Tim Tebow surpassed him in 2009.
Faulk played his entire NFL career with the Patriots and finished as the franchise’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 3,607.
He added 16 rushing touchdowns and 3,701 receiving yards and 15 more TDs.