<
>
Insider

GTN mailbag: Jeryl Brazil's big year

10/26/2012
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Answering your questions about LSU and Tigers recruiting during an off week for the Tigers:

We hear a lot about of the Louisiana prospects. Who's having the best year?

It's hard to evaluate where they are as prospects, but purely as a high school football player, I'd have to pick Jeryl Brazil. He goes both ways as a quarterback and defensive back for a team that is not a traditional power, but has emerged as a powerhouse.

At 7-0, Loranger, La./Loranger, he has a good chance to run the table in the regular season and enter the playoffs as the top seed in Louisiana Class 3A. Brazil is not the only good player on the team -- running back Miguel Toefield has already passed the 1,000-yard mark -- but he's the centerpiece player.

Honorable mentions go to 2014 WR target Trey Quinn, who leads the state in receiving (64 catches, 1,250 yards) and 2014 running back Leonard Fournette, who's sixth in the state with 1,165 rushing yards despite being the only player in the top nine with fewer than 100 carries (he has 99).

Will LSU's lack of passing prowess scare away prospects?

It seems that so far, both quarterback commits, Hayden Rettig and Anthony Jennings, are 100 percent LSU.

What LSU has going for it is a history, albeit a somewhat distant one. When the Tigers had JaMarcus Russell at quarterback throwing to Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis -- all three eventual first-round NFL draft picks -- the Tigers threw the ball.

Right now, LSU isn't getting great play at wide receiver or at quarterback, but it's four deep with talented running backs and is above average on the offensive line and fullback. So it makes sense to run first, then pass off the run.

High school players, I think, understand that. The key is convincing them that they'll indeed develop into the kind of players who, like Bowe and Russell, would tip the scale toward more passes.

You worked in Texas and Louisiana. How does Louisiana high school football compare?

Texas has more good teams but that's simply because it's bigger. Louisiana's population is less than the population of metro Houston.

What's also smaller in Louisiana are the schools. Louisiana, like Texas, has Class 5A as its highest enrollment class. But they aren't comparable classes.

In Texas, the smallest 5A enrollments are in the 2,200-student range. In Louisiana, where there's a greater emphasis on "neighborhood" schools, there are only two schools that would even qualify to be 5A in Texas -- Shreveport/Byrd and Lafayette/Lafayette the only two schools in the state with enrollments that exceed 2,200, according to SchoolDigger.com. The smallest 5A schools in Louisiana have enrollments of fewer than 1,200 students.

Louisiana school districts also tend to operate on smaller budgets than the large Texas districts, so Pelican state schools tend to have smaller coaching staffs, less emphasis on sub-varsity programs and other things that help Texas's large school teams to be, in general, more polished than their Louisiana counterparts.

So it's not fair to compare, say, Louisiana's best 5A program, West Monroe, with top 5A programs in Texas because West Monroe, with an enrollment around 1,900, would play in 4A in the Lone Star State. This is true both in terms of overall team quality and talent production.

Having said all that, the bottom line is Louisiana produces players at a per capita rate that's second to none. That's a credit to both the quality of athletes in the state and the job Louisiana prep coaches do at preparing these kids for the next level, often with modest resources at their disposal.

Already, there are 57 Louisiana players committed to FBS programs for the 2013 class, 30 to BCS programs. Of the BCS prospects, 12 are headed for schools outside of Louisiana. Every BCS conference except the Big 10 has at least one commitment from a player in Louisiana.

And we still have four months until signing day, so all those numbers will continue to grow.