For three years, teammates of Warren Easton quarterback Deshawn Capers-Smith have referred affectionately to their offensive linchpin as “Lefty Football.’’
It’s a malapropism, given that Capers-Smith is right-handed, the evolution from Capers-Smith’s original nickname of “Little Lefty’’ was inspired by the “Johnny Football’’ Manziel mania that surrounded Texas A&M’s 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.
After a senior year for the ages, however, Capers-Smith now has a new official moniker.
Meet Louisiana’s Mr. Football.
Capers-Smith is the 20th recipient of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Mr. Football award as chosen by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association to recognize the state’s outstanding player.
Capers-Smith earned the award after being chosen as the Outstanding Offensive Player on the Class 4A All-State team. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior accounted for more than three miles of yardage and 400 points with his passing and running.
Capers-Smith is the second consecutive New Orleans area player and sixth overall to win the award created in 1995 by the LSWA, succeeding St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette.
“Deshawn was our leader,’’ Easton coach Tony Hull said. “He was captain of the ship. He made sure that he was prepared for every situation possible that he may face in a game, which in turn made our team prepared this season.’’
With Capers-Smith leading the way, Easton went 12-3 in advancing to its first state final since 1958 while establishing a single-season school record for victories and winning its first district championship since 2001.
Capers-Smith produced one of the most prolific offensive seasons in state history by totaling 5,651 rushing/passing yards and 71 touchdowns while being intercepted just twice, one year after spending much of the 2013 season playing defensive back and wide receiver.
The prologue to Capers-Smith’s dazzling breakout came just before last year’s state playoffs when he was inserted into the starting lineup at quarterback after playing virtually all of the regular season at cornerback and wide receiver. Capers-Smith then proceeded to direct the Eagles to the Class 4A state quarterfinals.
As a senior, Capers-Smith averaged nearly a first down, 9.7 yards, for each time he passed or ran the ball in completing 235 of 371 passes (63.3 percent) for 4,333 yards and 50 touchdowns in addition to rushing for 1,318 yards and 21 touchdowns on 210 carries.
Capers-Smith, whose father was known as “Lefty,’’ said he did not concern himself with his individual numbers until season’s end.
“I didn’t want people to think that I would have a big head,’’ Capers-Smith said. “So I just kept myself humble and concentrating on what I could do.’’
This season, he said, was testament to “just hard work paying off.’’ Rather than attend countless summer football camps, Capers-Smith opted to prepare for 2014 by diligently studying video with his coaches and working out with his teammates, particularly the receivers.
“To do what we did for this community and our school, to be 56 years since playing (for a state championship) and to be playing in the (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome for the first time, you could tell that we really worked hard for it,’’ Capers-Smith said.
“My senior year was good. A lot of people were scared of my feet. But I started showing them what I could do with my arm. When that happened, everything started opening up. Everything.’’
Still a Texas A&M commitment as a cornerback, Capers-Smith now is exploring options to pursue a college career as a dual=threat quarterback.
Ohio State, Tennessee, Oregon and Ole Miss have expressed interest in Capers-Smith as a quarterback, Hull said.
“I think Deshawn has all the intangibles and the tools to play the position at any level,’’ Hull said. “He’s a leader. He spins the ball real well. He has a strong arm. He can make any throw on the football field.
“He can read coverage really, really well. With all of that, he can make plays with his feet and extend plays with whatever that might be, be it running or just buying more time in the pocket. So he has all of the tools and the intangibles to play (quarterback).
“I believe he can’’ play quarterback in college,’’ Hull added. “I think some people are starting to acknowledge and realize there’s a strong possibility.
“We have heard from Tennessee, Ohio State, Oregon. Those have inquired about how serious is he about playing the position and if he would be interested. So we’ll see.
“He has great velocity on the ball, and he has great touch. He has the kinds of things you look for in a quarterback. There’s no throw he can’t make. A kid who has great velocity and touch, that’s what you look for in a quarterback. He’s not just a quarterback who uses his legs.
“He’s set on playing (defensive back) at A&M,’’ Hull said, “but he’ll listen to anybody who may be intrigued about him playing the (quarterback) position. But it has to be the right fit. It can’t just be so he can play quarterback.
“And it can’t be a school that has offered him as a DB and now all of a sudden wants to offer him at quarterback. So it has to be the right opportunity. It has to be on the right stage. It has to be on the same stage as an A&M. Other than that he’s committed to A&M as a DB.’’
As far as winning Mr. Football, Hull said:
“I’m happy for him. That’s a blessing for him and his family because of the type of kid he is. You know we lost the (Neville) game by one point and the first thing he did was come up to me and say, ‘Coach, I’m sorry I lost the game for us.’
Capers-Smith was named Easton’s Outstanding Player in the championship game after accounting for 355 of Easton’s 388 yards while completing 29 of 41 passes for 292 yards, three touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
“I told him, ‘Son, you didn’t lose the game for us.’ That was a team effort,’’ Hull said. “That’s just the type of person he is. He put this team on his back.
“He did a great job, and I think he had a phenomenal season. I think every (honor) that he gets he deserves.’’