Despite a final push from a college head coach LSU fans know all too well, one of New Orleans' top Class of 2019 prospects is staying home.
Wednesday morning, alongside several teammates, John Ehret linebacker Donte Starks signed with LSU.
Starks announced Friday his decision would come down to the Tigers, whom he's been committed to since July 5, and Kansas, who hired former LSU coach Les Miles a month ago. Starks took an official visit to the Big 12 school two weekends ago after Miles offered the No. 7 recruit in the state on Nov. 25.
But his official visits ended with LSU last weekend alongside fellow future LSU teammate John Emery, the No. 2 running back in the country. The two posed for a photo together in LSU jerseys and posted it on Twitter. Three days later, things became official.
Entering national signing day, Starks was rated the top linebacker in Louisiana in the Class of 2019 and the sixth-best in the country, making him a key component for the Tigers' highly ranked recruiting class.
As a senior, Starks racked up 129 tackles, including 17 for loss, and 7½ sacks as he and his John Ehret teammates won 12 consecutive games after dropping the season-opener to West Monroe, making it all the way to the Class 5A semifinals, where they again fell again to the Rebels.
Brooks flips to Arkansas
Elsewhere around the New Orleans area, one college program holding a pledge from one of the state’s top 20 athletes in the Class of 2019 wasn’t so lucky.
After announcing his commitment to attend Mississippi State June 23, West Jefferson cornerback Gregory Brooks Jr. stunned Bulldogs fans as he reached for the white Arkansas hat over the burgundy one of Mississippi State during a school assembly Wednesday afternoon. Kansas State also remained in his final three until Wednesday.
The Razorbacks were the third school to extend Brooks Jr. an offer only weeks into his junior season Sept. 11, 2017. One came from the Bulldogs April 4 of this year, and he committed after making an unofficial visit in late June. In all, Brooks Jr. held offers from 26 programs, including Virginia, UNLV, Ole Miss, Missouri, IU and Kentucky.
The 5-foot-10, 178-pound defensive back is rated the 40th-best corner in the Class of 2019 and the fourth overall in Louisiana.
More than 20 New Orleans-area Class of 2019 football players signed their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, kicking off the second early signing period for the sport. More than half decided to stay around southeastern corner of Louisiana for college.
Southeastern Louisiana picked up six, including Lucien Babino and Eldridge Walker (John Ehret), Alex Huszar and Dontrell Smith (Destrehan), Kendall Collins (De La Salle) and Michael Corner (Edna Karr).
All three of Tulane (Jha’Quan Jackson-Hahnville and Colby Orgeron-John Curtis), UL-Lafayette (Chandler Fields-Rummel and Jaden Henderson-McDonogh 35) and Southern (Harold Blood Jr.-Destrehan and Austin Kent-Karr) picked up a pair each.
Destrehan’s Quinton Torbor (Mississippi State), Karr’s Ronnie Jackson (UTSA), St. Augustine’s Ted Melson (Lamar), Curtis’ Donald Clay (SMU) and Levon Williams (Nicholls State) and Ehret’s Kunta Hester (Northwestern State), Travis Mumphrey (UNLV) and Jacoby Windmon (UNLV) rounded out the local early signing class.
Trash talk begins
While Ehret’s Travis Mumphrey and Jacoby Windmon will continue as teammates at UNLV, one local SEC signee wasn’t afraid to start lobbing a bit of trash talking toward his now former partner on the field.
Emery and Wildcats wideout Quinton Torbor shared a huddle for four years of high school, but they’ll stand on opposite sidelines when LSU and Mississippi State meet in Starkville, Miss. next Oct. 19.
How is Torbor going to react to seeing Emery as an opponent?
“I’ll shake his hand after we win,” he said with a chuckle. “But that’s going to be something great to know someone over there. We grew up together.”