For Deas, eighth grade is too early


Phillip Deas knows a thing or two about big-time prospect recruiting.

As a quarterback at Evangel Christian (Shreveport, La.) in the mid-1990s, Deas was part of a long line of Evangel quarterbacks who landed at big-time programs over a 12-year span from 1990-2002. He followed Josh Booty (LSU) and was followed by Brent Rawls (Oklahoma), Brock Berlin (Florida) and John David Booty (USC). Deas played at North Carolina before finishing his college career at Louisiana Tech.

Now the head coach at his high school alma mater, Deas is a bit alarmed to see young players, especially quarterbacks, committing to colleges when they are still in junior high. California quarterback Tate Martell committed to Oregon Wednesday, days after Deas' home state flagship school, LSU, offered rising eighth-grade linebacker Dylan Moses.

"I think you might be getting a little ahead of the game there," said Deas. "I understand the whole recruiting thing, and when kids show tremendous talent, those schools want to get in there early and start recruiting them early, let them know that this is where they need to go to school.

"But I know that so much can change from the time that you’re 12 or 14 years old to the time you’re 18 years old. I think 8th grade might be just a little bit early."

Deas has a quarterback who, in some ways, can relate to Martell. He has a rising eighth grade quarterback -- the same class as Martell -- named Connor Curry who has received plenty of national recognition, including an invitation to play in the Eastbay Youth all-American Bowl. Evangel's 8th grade 7-on-7 team recently crossed the state line and won the Texas 7-on-7 state championship in College Station, Texas.

Just because Curry is succeeding now doesn't mean Deas wants college interest. Not yet.

"Nobody (from a college) has called and asked about the eighth-grader yet," Deas said. "I know he's getting a lot of attention, even nationally, with a lot of publications and things. He's going to have his time."

For now, Deas said he wants his young quarterback to continue to work hard. An offer at this age could send the wrong message.

"As a coach, I want him to continue to work for something," he said. "If you get an offer in eighth or ninth grade, the tendency is just to cruise."

LSU fans are familiar with prodigious talents. Long before Moses was offered, most LSU fans could recite the famous story of basketball coach Dale Brown's chance encounter with what thought was a 6-foot-8 American soldier at an American Army base in Germany in 1985.

Turned out, the "soldier" told Brown he was actually a 13-year-old son of a serviceman, which shocked Brown and set the wheels in motion. Brown asked for the tall young man's father, essentially started the recruiting process right there.

The kid's name?

Shaquille O'Neal.

So one may forgive LSU fans for not minding an early start in recruiting.

Which is fine, Deas said. But he draws the line at offering a college home for kids who haven't even enrolled in high school yet.

"I can't see offering an eighth grader a scholarship," he said. "Not yet."