Recruiting: A year unlike any other

Advocate staff photo by Eliot Kamenitz -- Destrehan quarterback Donovan Isom
Advocate staff photo by Eliot Kamenitz -- Destrehan quarterback Donovan Isom

It’s a banner year for high school football in the Crescent City.

Led by three players considered the best at their position in the Class of 2014, New Orleans has become, pound for pound, the most fertile recruiting town in the country.

St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette is considered by some to be the nation’s top prospect and by most to be the top running back. John Curtis wide receiver Malachi Dupre is ranked by many as the nation’s top receiver. And ESPN ranks Edna Karr’s Speedy Noil its top “athlete” — although other recruiting services classify him as a standout receiver.

It’s not hard to imagine more than 50 metro New Orleans players signing to play major college football come February.

Here are the ones to watch:

Running back

Fournette’s mix of speed, power, vision and football IQ have people comparing him to players like Kevin Faulk and Cecil Collins in the discussion of the best high school running backs to come out of the state. LSU and Alabama are the most likely destinations for the Purple Knights star, whose style recalls the likes of Eddie George and maybe even Eric Dickerson.

Darrel Williams of John Ehret also has a long list of suitors.

Quarterback

Destrehan’s Donovan Isom recalls Jordan Jefferson with his school ties and JaMarcus Russell with his build (6-foot-5, 230 pounds). He’ll play for Utah.

Shaw quarterback Quentin Gibson is arguably the state’s best pure passer, while Mandeville’s Glen Cuiellette, a Tulane commitment, is one of the state’s best dual-threat passers.

Receivers/tight ends

With his height, flexibility, speed and ball skills, Dupre has shot to the top of the national charts. Many see LSU as the team to beat.

Noil is a major threat in the slot as perhaps the fastest player in the class. He has a laundry list of offers led by LSU, Texas A&M and Florida.

Rummel’s Steven Dunbar committed to Houston, and Karr tight end Anthony Jones looks like a steal for Louisiana-Lafayette. A sleeper is California transplant receiver Keyan Williams of Lusher Charter, and watch out for speedy Louisiana Tech commit Marcus Gaines of St. Paul’s.

Offensive line

Brother Martin’s Will Clapp, the son of ex-LSU star Tommy Clapp, was one of the Tigers’ earliest commitments and is the state’s second-best offensive line prospect behind West Monroe’s Cameron Robinson, generally considered the nation’s top line prospect.

Others getting major interest include Joseph Paul and Peyton Winbush of St. Augustine.

Defensive line

The only argument about Gerald Willis of Karr is whether, at 6-3 and 275, his future is at end or tackle. Generally considered a top 50 player, he’ll play somewhere big, with LSU the leader.

Defensive tackle Garrald McDowell of Covington is the top prospect in St. Tammany Parish with a laundry list of SEC schools after him. Others to watch: tackle Courtney Garnett of St. Augustine (Texas), Oklahoma State-bound tackle Joyan Williams of Karr and Tulane-committed defensive tackle Sean Wilson of South Plaquemines.

Linebacker

Kenny Young of John Curtis is the state’s top linebacker and likely will end up at a BCS program, possibly LSU. If so, he’ll join Karr outside linebacker Donnie Alexander.

The best of the rest is Destrehan’s RaeJuan Marbley, arguably the top player in Tulane’s class.

Defensive back

Cornerback Jermaine Roberts of St. Augustine, a Texas commit, is arguably the top player.

Players headed for major colleges include the John Curtis duo of safety Mattrell McGraw and cornerback Terrence Alexander; Rummel cornerbacks Henré Toliver and Dwayne Eugene (Arkansas commits), McDonogh 35 safety Byron Blunt; Landry-Walker safety Anthony Milton; and Karr cornerback Juwan Offrey (Oklahoma State).