Chris Lachney is a smart guy and a pretty good football coach at Riverside Academy.
But for the life of him, he can’t understand why his phone didn't ring off the hook.
Lachney, who until this week was the head coach of the Rebels football team, had what any high school coach dreams about — a 6-foot-3, 205-pound smart, selfless, hard-working, hard-throwing quarterback in Jordan Loving.
A four-year starter, Loving stepped into his role as a freshman after starter Deuce Wallace transferred out of state. He missed his sophomore season with a back injury, which he suffered while playing baseball.
But Loving returned as a junior to lead his team to its first LHSAA state title, then came back as a senior to put up impressive numbers.
But for whatever reasons, not many colleges came calling.
“I don’t know what it is,” said Lachney, who spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Riverside under Bill Stubbs and one season as head coach. He announced his resignation Monday for family reasons.
“I’m not a college football coach. I don’t know exactly what they’re looking for. But everybody must have seen something. I’ve heard everything from 'He’s a system guy,' meaning all we do is throw it, or 'He has a quirky delivery.’ ”
That quirky delivery put up 2,957 yards and 29 touchdowns this season, earning him the spot as the Class 2A All-State quarterback and a nod as a finalist for the Warrick Dunn Award.
It also got him a ring when the Rebels won the Division III state championship in 2016.
Loving got another ring as a member of the Rebels’ 2016 state championship baseball team, playing as a pitcher and infielder. He's also a center on the basketball team but has not won a ring on the court — yet. This year’s Rebels are 28-1, though.
What Loving did not get was a whole lot of attention from college coaches and scouts. Division III Louisiana College was the only school to show more than passing interest. Northwestern State and Nicholls invited him to walk on.
None of the big schools rang Lachney’s phone — nor did Southeastern Louisiana, where his mother, Tara Maus Loving, once a stellar softball player, is in the athletics Hall of Fame.
“I’m completely mystified,” Lachney said. “He’s a special kid, a special athlete. I really think Jordan Loving can go to any college team in the country and make it better, if given the chance.”
Well, apparently someone was paying attention.
On a scheduled official visit to LSU last week, Loving got the offer he wanted — if not the one he dreamed of.
LSU offered Loving an opportunity as a preferred walk-on. Basically, it means he was invited to join the team but will not receive any athletic scholarship money from the school. Loving is an honor student, however, and should easily qualify for the state’s TOPS program thanks to his 4.57 weighted grade-point average.
“My thought process was always just to pick the best possible choice for me, in terms of where I can get an education, where I’d best be happy playing football and competing at,” Loving said. “Growing up, LSU had always been the dream school. It just so happened that I also felt my best opportunity was at LSU.”
An 11th-hour scholarship offer did come from Nicholls State, which gave Loving and his parents a brief pause, but on Wednesday he re-affirmed his desire to go to LSU.
“I decided to stick with my original commitment," Loving said. "It definitely created that extra edge. It’s got me playing with a chip on my shoulder going forward to compete and do everything I can.”
Lachney also hopes for the day Loving can shine on a big stage.
“I expect to see him play,” Lachney said. “I believe he can be the starting quarterback at LSU. He works so hard for it. And I can’t wait to see him play someday and I hope I’ll be standing or sitting next to some college coaches, and I’ll be able to say, ‘So, he couldn’t play for y’all?’ ”