St. Aug shows strong passing game in spring game against Easton _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Warren Easton quarterback Deshawn Capers-Smith is one of nine seniors on the team who has received an offer or drawn heavy interest from Division I schools.

Five-star running back Leonard Fournette of St. Augustine may be gone to LSU, and Edna Karr’s star-studded class has moved on, but the recruiting spotlight will still burn bright on New Orleans and its surrounding areas.

Thanks to the five-star talent of wide receiver Tyron Johnson, the nation’s recruiting glare will again find its way to New Orleans where Johnson is just the tip of the iceberg on his talented high school team.

“It’s definitely not the star-studded group that it was last year but it’s a solid group and there’s a lot of depth in the class,” Mid-South recruiting analyst Jason Howell said. “I like the bottom end of this group compared to last year’s.”

Johnson is the nation’s No. 13 overall player by and an ESPN 300 selection. The 6-foot, 185-pounder is the state’s top-rated prospect and recently narrowed his list to 10 schools: LSU, Clemson, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Oregon, Tennessee and Oklahoma State.

While Class 4A state runners-up Karr filled some of the nation’s top programs with talent such as Speedy Noil, Gerald Willis and Donnie Alexander to name a few, District 10-4A counterpart Warren Easton is positioned for such a breakthrough. This year’s senior class features nine players that have either received an offer or drawn heavy interest from Division I schools.

Aside from Johnson, Easton’s talent-laden class also features Texas A&M commitment DeShawn Capers-Smith and Arizona commitment Kendal Franklin. Johnson leads a list of uncommitted standouts that also includes linebacker Arthur McGinnis, wide receiver Darrel Clark, linebacker Calvin Lunkins, running back Devin Glenn, defensive back Jeremie Francis and wide receiver Dedrick Shy.

“He’s part of a group of guys that have kind of laid the foundation the program is on,” Easton coach Tony Hull said of Johnson. “They had opportunities to go other places like St. Aug and Karr. They chose to come to Easton because we have a great educational school and they trusted me and believed in the vision we had.”

In true New Orleans fashion, the area offers a little bit of everything — like all the right ingredients for a gumbo.

Cornerbacks DeShawn Raymond of Class 4A state champion East Jefferson and Donte Jackson of Riverdale are two of the nation’s best at their position.

Raymond (6-1, 185) is regarded as the No. 28 defensive back and will choose from LSU, Mississippi State and TCU among his finalists. Jackson (6-0, 175) is ranked No. 21 and has also earned ESPN 300 status. He favors Georgia over LSU, Oregon, Florida State and Texas A&M.

“He continues to show that he’s getting better every time you see him,” Howell said of Jackson, the Class 4A sprint champion in the 100 and 200. “He’s such a raw athlete, and he’s just starting to learn the defensive back position.”

“DeShawn stepped up his game at the LSU camp,” Howell said. “After getting to see him move and do some things, he’s shown a lot of progress since the spring with his footwork at the cornerback position.”

Skill position players are in demand nationally and the New Orleans area has plenty to go around with Newman running back Kendall Bussey (Nebraska commitment), Lakeshore’s David Ducre (LSU commitment) and Destrehan dynamo Kirk Merritt.

Bussey is the nation’s No. 3 all-purpose back and a four-star talent. The 6-foot, 230-pound Ducre improved his stock during LSU’s final camp of the summer, becoming a four-star prospect and No. 22 running back.

In his first full season at Destrehan, Merritt saw time at running back and wide receiver, but the 5-11, 205-pounder projects as the nation’s No. 19 wideout. He’s also an ESPN 300 selection, helped in part by his championship in the SPARQ challenge at The Opening.

“He brings a whole different level of athleticism,” Howell said of Merritt. “It will be interesting to see how he continues to progress. He has the athleticism and build you look for. There’s a reason why just about every coach in the country’s trying to get him to sign with their school.

The collection of wide receivers is also deep with St. Augustine’s Stanley Morgan, Holy Cross’ Michael Chigbu (Georgia commitment) and Hahnville’s Brandon Singleton (Georgia Tech commitment).

LSU commitment Xavier Lewis of East St. John — the nation’s No. 23 cornerback — tops the area’s defensive prospects along with fellow LSU pledge Isaiah Washington of Karr at defensive end, Landry-Walker defensive tackle George Lea, John Curtis’ duo of Hunter Dale and Bo Wallace and Karr linebacker Tyrin Ferguson (Oregon State commitment).