Thursday, April 25, 2013
'U-High' roster unusually loaded with talent
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE, La. -- While University Lab School has a solid athletic tradition and some good football history -- Louisiana Class 1A state champions in 1974 and 1988, and a smattering of college and pro players like Brad Banta and Brian Kinchen -- it isn't necessarily on the state's "A" list of football powers.
Schools like John Curtis and Evangel, which eliminated the Cubs from last year's Class 2A playoffs in the semifinals, have won more championships and perhaps have a longer list of past stars.
Few, however, can match the star power now going through the small, academically rigorous school located on LSU's campus.
A year after defensive end Tim Williams left "U-High," as locals call it, for Alabama as ESPN's top-rated player out of Louisiana, the Cubs produced Garrett Brumfield, the ESPN 150 defensive end who committed to LSU over the weekend.
The trend will continue in upcoming years. Nick Brossette, will be among the top running backs in the country in the 2015 class, and all eyes are on Class of 2017 super prospect Dylan Moses, who made national news when he was offered by LSU in the summer before his eighth-grade year. He subsequently has earned offers from Alabama and Florida. Moses has yet to play his first game at University's high school team, yet people have long been speculating where he'll play in college.
U-High, always the strong academic school with a competitive football program, is suddenly a hotbed.
"It's very unusual, and kind of coincidental," coach Chad Mahaffey said of how much talent U-High has right now. "It's not normal to have two or three kids in a row like this. Before I got here, we had a couple of quarterbacks in a row with college offers, we had Okie Woods at Tulane, Anthony Kimble played at Stanford, Big Baby [Glen Davis], who played football and basketball. But to have two or three in a row? I don't have an explanation for it. The only negative is, we have 22 kids out there and a couple get all the attention."
This is probably the most talented team at U-High since its 2A state champion basketball teams in the mid-2000s, which featured two future NBA players in its starting five: Davis -- who many considered a better football prospect than basketball prospect -- and Garrett Temple. Both went on to be hoops teammates at LSU and are now in the NBA, Davis with the Orlando Magic and Temple with the Washington Wizards.
U-High's latest football stars have been getting attention for a while. Brumfield is a three-year starter whose talents were obvious early. But he did not rise nearly as quickly as Brossette, who started for the varsity and was a 1,000-yard rusher as an eighth-grader (U-High is a K-12 school, so eighth-graders are eligible to play for the high school team).
Now an established star just heading into his junior year, Brossette has offers from a long list of big-name programs, headlined by LSU, Alabama and Florida State.
"I'm just trying to become a complete back," Brossette said. "I think last year, against Evangel and Calvary (in the playoffs), you saw my speed -- and my power's coming. I just want to be a complete back."
If Brossette had high expectations early, they might be trumped by the expectations for Moses who, unlike Brossette, was not eligible to play for the varsity as an eighth-grader. His family lives outside the public school attendance zone in which U-High is located, triggering a state rule that resulted in him sitting out a year (he played for University's eighth-grade team).
The youngster has made the rounds this spring, taking visits all over the SEC and getting offers -- all before his first high school game. Mahaffey said he won't allow interviews yet.
"At least until he starts playing," the coach said.
Where will he play? That's a tough one. Many expect him to be a running back, but the Cubs already have the state's best 2015 running back, Brossette, returning for his fourth year as a starter. Mahaffey said he'll figure out where Moses fits during upcoming spring practices.
Looking at Moses, more physically imposing than anybody on University's practice field, there's little doubt he will play somewhere and give U-High another in its extended line of major prospects.