Signing day notebook: Arkansas leaves New Orleans with quite a haul: Giovanni LaFrance, Briston Guidry and De’Jon Harris _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Brother Martin's Irv Smith is stopped just short of the goal line by John Curtis School's Hunter Dale (1) and Dorian Rodrigue (4) in a LHSAA playoff game at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans, La. Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Brother Martin later scored on the same drive.

Arkansas may have missed out on Rummel cornerback Kristian Fulton, who chose LSU, but the Razorbacks on Wednesday still signed four players from Louisiana.

Among the Louisiana players signed was linebacker Giovanni LaFrance of St. Augustine. LaFrance, a three-star player who decommitted from Tulane after Curtis Johnson was fired, chose the Razorbacks over Utah and Louisville.

“I loved everything about it up there,” he said. “They’ve got great coaches and crazy fans. The sky’s the limit for Arkansas.”

LaFrance, who to his knowledge is St. Aug’s first Arkansas signee, also took signing day to needle St. Aug tight end Jamal Pettigrew, an LSU signee.

“Arkansas has beaten LSU the last two years,” he said. “As long as I’m there, we’re never going to lose to them.”

Two other local players, Rummel defensive lineman Briston Guidry and Ehret linebacker De’Jon Harris, also signed with Arkansas.

Listen to Mom(s)

John Ehret had one of the first ceremonies of the day — and it also was one of the more elaborate ones.

In addition to having 10 players who will play in college, the Patriots invited three mothers from the Professional Football Players Mothers Association to speak briefly to the signees.

Denise Wayne, mother of former Ehret standout Reggie Wayne, along with Sandra Moore (mother of Mewelde Moore) and Sherry Hill (mother of the late Marquise Hill) spoke to the college-bound Patriots about the importance of grades as well as athletics.


Brother Martin tight end Irvin Smith committed to Texas A&M in June. But he decommitted recently and ended up signing with national champion Alabama.

“This is where I wanted to be,” Smith said. “The visit to the campus really sealed the deal for me. I talked it over with my dad, and he was happy that I choose them.”

Cajuns get a ‘steal’ in Ragas

Trey Ragas was a workhorse on offense the past three season at Archbishop Shaw, becoming the school’s career rushing leader. Shaw coach Scott Bairnsfather said in the days leading up to signing day that whoever garnered Ragas’ signature “would be getting a steal.”

Turns out, it was Louisiana-Lafayette.

“My mom didn’t want me to go there initially, but she said it was my decision to make,” Ragas said. “I knew that I could be a part of something special, just like here at Shaw.”


McDonogh 35’s Clifford Chattman originally committed to LSU, then switched to Florida State.

But Wednesday, it was Texas A&M that landed the 6-foot-4, 175-pounder listed as an athlete.

“Coach (John) Chavis is a great defensive coordinator, and I would love to play on his defense in the SEC,” Chattman said. “It was kind of hard choosing. My mom was feeling Florida State, but I had to convince her Texas A&M was the right place for me.”

Cajun country

Country Day’s Trey Harrell signed with Kent State, giving the Cajuns a rare Division I football signee.

“It’s awesome for us. It’s awesome for Trey,” coach Joe Chango said. “Trey’s one of the first Division I football players for us in a long time. It shows we’re serious about our football and joining 2A, and Trey’s helping us forge our way there.”

Waiting to decide

McDonogh 35 defensive lineman Sci Martin didn’t sign Wednesday.

Martin was the only member of The Advocate’s Super Dozen, a list of the state’s top 12 recruits, who didn’t sign. McDonogh 35 coach Wayne Reese said Martin is waiting to make sure he makes the right decision.

He was committed to TCU, but LSU and Alabaam both made a strong push for Martin, who led the Roneagles with 61 tackles and 33.5 sacks.

On the dotted line

Newman offensive lineman Matt Ryan, son of former Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, will walk on at Clemson. ... John Curtis senior Kody Schexnayder, an all-state punter, didn’t sign but is considering Oklahoma State, Washington State and TCU.