Quarterback Brandon Harris dropped back in the pocket.
In front of him, linemen Garrett Brumfield and Cameron Robinson blocked defensive tackle Garrald McDowell.
Harris rifled a pass into the arms of receiver Devante “Speedy” Noil with safety Laurence “Hootie” Jones in coverage.
All of those players are from Louisiana, but this play didn’t unfold during a state high school football game.
It happened — or at least could have — three weeks ago in St. Petersburg, Fla., at the Under Armour All-America Game, the nation’s premier high school all-star event.
A whopping one dozen Louisianians were invited to the game. The talent depth of the state’s 2014 class is just that good.
“It’s phenomenal,” said Barton Simmons, national recruiting analyst for 24/7 Sports.
The Advocate’s Super Dozen this year is a list of the nation’s best talents.
Nine players from the state —all of them on our Super Dozen — are among the top 100 prospects in the nation, according to Rivals.com’s final rankings released this past week.
That’s likely the most Louisianians in the history of the poll. It’s tied for third-most in the country this year. With 12 each, only Florida and Texas have more.
“It’s pretty special,” said Scott Kennedy, national director of scouting for Scout.com.
The Super Dozen includes two offensive linemen: Robinson of West Monroe and University High’s Brumfield.
There are four receivers: John Curtis’ Malachi Dupre, Noil of Edna Karr, Barbe’s Trey Quinn and Ouachita Parish’s Cameron Sims.
The lone quarterback is Harris, an LSU early enrollee from Parkway. And the only running back is St. Augustine’s Leonard Fournette, an LSU commitment rated the No. 1 player in the nation by most recruiting sites.
That leaves four defensive players: Jones of Neville, linebacker Kenny Young of John Curtis, Covington’s McDowell and Karr end Gerald Willis.
Five of those players — Fournette, Noil and Robinson — are rated No. 1 in the nation at their positions, according to 24/7 Sports’ composite rankings, which pool other site ratings. Four more — Dupre, Harris, Jones and Willis — are rated in the top four at their positions.
Two more are in the top 10 at their positions, and all of them are in the top 12.
Is this the best class of Louisiana recruits ever?
“I don’t think that’s crazy to say at all,” said Sonny Shipp, Geaux247’s recruiting analyst.
It’s tough to gauge something like that, though.
The nine Louisiana players in the Rivals100 are three more than the next highest number in the poll since 2002. Rankings before that are unavailable.
Louisiana has had its lows, and many say next year will be one. The state had zero players in the 2008 Rivals100. Three times since 2010, the state has had one or two players in the rankings.
It’s tough to find a year quite like this one.
The closest comparisons are 2011 and 2001, said Mike Scarborough, publisher at TigerBait.com, the Rivals.com affiliate. The ’11 class had six Louisiana players in the Rivals100, including four in the top 50. This year, five are in the top 50.
The 2001 class included players like receiver Michael Clayton, defensive ends Marcus Spears and Marquise Hill and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth.
Said Scarborough: “That class is why LSU wins the ’03 national championship.”
The ’11 class included receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, offensive linemen La’el Collins and Greg Robinson, defensive lineman Anthony Johnson and running back Kenny Hilliard.
All but Robinson signed with LSU.
This year, the Tigers have three commits from the Super Dozen and a fourth who has already enrolled in the school. Two Super Dozen players are uncommitted, and six are committed to other schools.
The half-dozen who plan to leave the state — three to Alabama and one to each Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Florida — are a sign that the nation knew about this year’s talented group.
“I can’t imagine there’s another state that has the kind of talent Louisiana’s had per capita,” Simmons said. “It’s pretty remarkable. I think that’s a real reason why LSU is kind of struggling this year to win the state. People recognize that Louisiana has a lot more talent than just LSU can reel in. It’s been one of the stories over college football the way that state has grown.”
Louisiana and California are each tied with nine in this year’s Rivals100, despite a massive population disparity. California has an estimated 38 million people. Louisiana: 4.6 million.
California normally produces about 250 Football Bowl Subdivision signees a year, Kennedy said. That’s third behind Texas (about 380) and Florida (350).
Louisiana? About 80, Kennedy said.
That means about 8 percent of Louisiana’s total FBS signees this season rank in the top 100 nationally. There are roughly 3,000 FBS signees each year.
“It’s a freak of nature,” Kennedy said. “An anomaly.”
Some analysts made an attempt to explain the 2014 haul’s depth.
New Orleans — and south Louisiana in general — are returning to form more than eight years after Hurricane Katrina battered the area and dispersed some of its residents.
High school coaches are getting better, some say. Players are training year-round, and facilities for such training are popping up all over the state.
It’s tough to explain.
No one’s sure it’ll continue.
But one thing’s certain: “It’s out of the ordinary,” Kennedy said. “Not just for Louisiana but anywhere. It’s a unique group, not just for Louisiana but for any state. I’d say the same if this many (No. 1 position players) were coming out of Texas.”