- Gary Laney, Reporter, GeauxTigerNation
After LSU looked outside of its state lines to land California quarterback Hayden Rettig, which continued a stretch since 2008 without a Louisiana signal-caller getting a scholarship to LSU, it might be easy to think Louisiana simply isn't producing high-powered passing offenses that churn out BCS-level quarterbacks.
But take one look at the game tape of ESPN 150 tight end DeSean Smith (Lake Charles, La./Barbe), and it's easy to see that's not always the case.
In Barbe's pass-happy offense, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Smith is rated as the No. 4 H-back tight end in the nation by ESPN. He can be found split out wide, in the slot and every now and then as a true tight end.
"I'm at wide receiver 80 percent of the time and have my hand on the ground in a three-point stance about 20 percent of the time," he said.
As a receiver, he stands out because of his size and the speed and grace in which he moves. In a talent-laden, multi-receiver offense, Smith looks like a bigger version of the other receivers, not like a bulky tight end asked to awkwardly line up wide.
As far as major college recruiting goes, Smith's story isn't the only one in this spread offense, just the most widely known story. While his junior season numbers -- 40 catches, 774 yards, 7 touchdowns -- were impressive, he was far from the leading receiver on his own team.
Trey Quinn, a 2014 wide receiver held that distinction, hauling in an eye-popping 67 passes for 1,220 yards with 12 touchdowns as a sophomore, pretty much mirroring his numbers from a prodigious freshman year (67 receptions, 1,238 yards, 9 TDs). Quinn and Smith hauled in passes mostly from quarterback Kennon Fontenot, who threw for 2,561 yards on a team that reached the Class 5A quarterfinals.
"We have a great offense," Smith said. "We have so many great receivers, it helps me. (The defense) has to get to them and it leaves me wide open."
While Fontenot's lack of height -- he is just 5-foot-10 and likely headed for a college baseball career as a heavy-hitting infielder -- will mean he won't likely end the state's major college quarterback drought, his two favorite receivers may very well suit up for major colleges.
Smith's recruitment hasn't slowed down despite a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder that required surgery and forced him to miss Barbe's recently completed spring practice.
"I have about a week left to recover," Smith said before Barbe's May 18 spring game, which he watched in street clothes. "It's no fun watching your teammates and not being out there with them. But it takes time, I just have to let it heal to where it's 100 percent."
Despite the injury, Smith said Ole Miss, Florida, LSU, Alabama, TCU, Tennessee and Houston are among the schools that have come Barbe to see him. He said he will visit Alabama and Ole Miss this summer along with a couple of elite camps, including the U.S. Army camp in July. He visited LSU for the spring game and came away impressed.
"LSU did an amazing job," said Smith, who was impressed by new Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger and the Tigers' commitment to throw more. "It's not just about running the ball any more, which I really like. They are spreading it around and have a great quarterback. What I saw is what I hope to see more of from them in the future."
While Smith is a known quantity, Quinn is hoping to build his name in recruiting circles this summer. He teamed with Fontenot to help Barbe, a traditional Louisiana power, to the Class 5A baseball championship in the spring. Their alliance on the diamond goes back to when they were young. They were teammates on a Lake Charles team that reached the U.S. championship of the 2008 Little League World Series.
Quinn, Barbe's starting center fielder, is widely considered a potential 2014 draft pick. But he has opted to concentrate on football this summer for the first time in his life.
"I wanted to have an off-season," Quinn said. "It's been baseball every summer, but I'm taking this one off."
Quinn is hoping to showcase his skills and actually gets a chance to work to improve them for football for the first time. Even without an off-season, he has drawn serious interest from LSU, Alabama and Kentucky. He attended LSU's junior day and will attend football camps at LSU and Alabama this summer.
His father said TCU, BYU, SMU, Tulane, Houston and hometown McNeese State have visited campus.
He has blazing speed that comes across on film, but outside of a 21.97 electronically-timed 200-meters he ran at a track meet with little preparation (track season conflicts with baseball), that speed has not often been put to the test, nor developed.
He hopes to change that during the summer.
"Trey is keeping all options open right now," his father, Dave Quinn said. "But he really wants to see what kind of offers he can get to play college football."
16hSam Khan Jr.