VACHERIE — The birthday party was for Lowell Narcisse.
But the gift went to Auburn.
More than 300 people crammed into the multi-purpose building in Vacherie to celebrate one of the nation’s top quarterback’s 17th birthday, but more importantly, to see where the St. James junior would play his college ball.
With mother Stacy, brother Juarelle and girlfriend Niya Ross standing by his side, Narcisse made his decision known by pulling an Auburn cap out of a box.
“One of the main things was I wanted to be able to start as a true freshman, and they gave me the opportunity,” Narcisse said. “(Auburn starter) Jeremy Johnson will be a junior this year, so by the time I graduate, he will be gone and I will be able to go in and compete for that starting spot.”
The choice wasn’t easy though for the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Narcisse.
LSU was a close second.
“It was 51-49 (percent),” said Narcisse, who grew up a fan of the purple and gold Tigers who play right down the road from where he lives. “… It was very close. I am still an LSU fan until 2017 when I go to college. I think my best opportunity was to go to Auburn, though.”
Alabama and Clemson were also in his final four.
He reached a final decision Monday morning and called the Auburn coaching staff to let them know.
Other than the Auburn coaching staff and close family members, no one else knew the decision of the hometown hero known around here as simply “Junior.”
But his success stretches far beyond the borders of the St. James community.
Narcisse is ranked the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country in the ESPN rankings. He is ranked the nation’s third-best dual-threat quarterback by 247Sports.
“We can talk about the passing yards, the touchdowns and everything,” St. James assistant coach Byron Keller said. “All those things are good. But he is an even better kid off the field. A role model with good grades.”
It’s why so many people, including local governemnt officials, were in attendance.
Former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, who starred at nearby East St. John and has been like a mentor to Narcisse, was also there. So was former St. James standout Corey Webster, who went on to play in the NFL.
“Go to the place that makes you happy,” said Perrilloux, one of several people who addressed the crowd.
Although Narcisse can’t sign with Auburn until February 2017, he says his commitment is firm.
“It’s very solid,” he said. “Now I get to recruit other guys to be a part of the program and play with Auburn. Being a quarterback, you want to let the coach know you are committed to them, and you want to secure a spot.”
He could have waited but decided to get it over with after tearing his ACL during the spring game, which will sideline him his junior season this fall.
“Since I wasn’t playing football this year, I decided to go ahead and get it out the way,” he said. “… It’s going to be very tough go out there and see my friends having fun. It’s going to hurt me on the inside knowing I can’t go out there and play.”
In his first two seasons, he has already put up numbers that would be career statistics for most high school quarterbacks.
He has thrown for 5,134 yards and 58 touchdowns and rushed for 2,039 yards and 30 touchdowns in his first two seasons.
As a sophomore, he threw for 3,127 yards and 31 touchdowns and rushed for another 1,402 yards and 18 touchdowns.
He looks to add to those numbers when he returns to the field in 2016.
“My long-term goal is to play on Sundays,” Narcisse said. “I think Auburn gives me the best chance to do that.”