Adrian Ealy remained focused on the commands from East Ascension offensive line coach Keragan McCready as he settled into a stance.
Then, in one smooth and swift ballet-like motion, Ealy powered his way past a player holding a blocking pad. It is one of two crucial education phases for one of Louisiana’s top prospects for 2017.
Ealy, a three-year starter at University High, faced the same dilemma as former UHS teammate Dylan Moses. Like Moses, Ealy plans to graduate in December and enroll at the college of his choice in January 2017.
U-High doesn’t offer an early graduation option, which led to Moses transferring to Florida power IMG Academy in January. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound Ealy found a solution closer to home — East Ascension — a school located minutes from his home.
“This was a family decision,” Ealy said. “We sat down and talked about it a lot and decided it would be in my best interest to graduate at mid-term and enroll in college.
“I loved the years I spent at U-High and have a lot of friends there. It’s a great school. Being at East Ascension gives me the chance to graduate early and play with friends I grew up with. I have a brother who graduated from EA. This suits me.”
For now, the fit is somewhat metaphorical. Ealy, who has withdrawn from Class 3A U-High, doesn’t have a blue Spartans helmet. First-year EAHS coach Darnell Lee has ordered one for the big addition to an already solid offensive line.
“All the extra-large helmets we had were given out and we don’t share those,” Lee said with a smile. Lee studies Ealy, a four-star prospect, and the other Spartans linemen as they review the basic blocking schemes. Cameron Wyre, an up-and-coming 6-5 junior, took his turn in the line next to Ealy during the drills.
“We’ve got two 6-5 kids who are both basketball players,” Lee said. “They can be very good. Playing beside a guy like Adrian is going to help them. The first thing you see is his size, but if you watch him you can see how polished and athletic he is. Technically, Adrian is sound and experienced.”
Lee said he met Ealy a couple of years ago. At the time, Lee painted houses to make some extra money; the Ealy family home wound up being one of his jobs. When the Ealys began exploring options, Lee said he told them to make sure a solution wasn’t available at U-High.
Ealy is a slam dunk choice to play left tackle for the Class 5A Spartans. He may also get snaps on defense, something he also did at U-High.
“I’ve been knowing Adrian for a lot of years and when he told me he was coming to EA, I said, ‘Well let’s go,’ ” left guard Trevor Fleming said. “He’s been catching on to what we do at practice. Sometimes we go through it after practice. He understands he’s coming into a program we’ve built up and he just wants to play his game.”
There was some fatigue for Ealy in the weight room Tuesday morning. He returned from the Rivals 100 Five-Star Challenge held in Atlanta late Sunday. Camps at LSU and Alabama are part of a busy schedule in the weeks ahead.
Recruiting services list LSU as the favorite to land Ealy although Alabama also is buzz-worthy. There’s no shortage of high-profile offers, including Florida, Florida State, Miami, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona, Auburn, Ole Miss, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Ealy said he plans to narrow his list to five finalists. Don’t expect news of a commitment any time soon. Showing a flair for the dramatic, Ealy said he plans to announce his commitment the week of Oct. 10, which is when the Spartans play rival St. Amant.
McCready said he remembers watching Ealy play in middle school and has been impressed with his work ethic.
EAHS offensive coordinator Brian Young adds, “What you don’t understand until you see it is how quick he is. He was running against linebackers (Monday) and beating them. You don’t see that every day.”