Top prospects taking visits, to announce on signing day
The past few weeks have been quite hectic for wide receiver Malachi Dupre and linebacker Kenny Young, both John Curtis standouts.
College coaches constantly calling or dropping by to visit.
Nonstop phone calls from reporters trying to get the latest scoop on what school the two players may sign with.
“I have just been trying to control the process more than I let it control me,” Dupre said. “It wasn’t stressful at all at first, but now that it has gotten closer to signing day, it has really picked up.”
“It’s been crazy, but I won’t let it weigh me down,” Young said. “I have to ignore a lot of calls. And you get called out of classes to talk to coaches. But that’s what they are supposed to do. I just appreciate the opportunity.”
Dupre and Young are the only two members of The Advocate’s Super Dozen, a list of the state’s top 12 recruits, who have yet to make a commitment.
Both are highly sought after.
Dupre is considered one of the nation’s top receivers, while the hard-hitting Young is one of the best linebackers.
Dupre says he is down to LSU, Alabama, Florida State, Miami, Ole Miss and UCLA.
“It’s still wide-open,” said Dupre, who visited Florida State this weekend.
Young, meanwhile, is down to LSU, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Oklahoma State and UCLA.
“Those are the ones I am strongly considering,” said Young, who visited Texas A&M last week and Arkansas this weekend.
Unlike other recruits across the country, Dupre and Young didn’t go through the recruiting process during the season. Their coach, J.T. Curtis, doesn’t allow it during the season.
“The college coaches understand it and know that we are going to get all the work done when our season is over,” said Curtis, who won his 26th state title in December. “It wouldn’t be any different from a pro coach going to a college and asking a kid to come visit in the middle of the season. No college coach in America would want that.”
But Curtis admits this year has been even more chaotic than usual, mainly because of an NCAA mandate that reduced the weeks coaches could recruit in December following the state championship game.
“This is always a hectic time, but what has made it worse is that the NCAA cut out that week,” Curtis said. “That week was huge, so it makes it a lot more tougher as you get closer to signing day. But it is what it is, and you have to manage it and make sure everybody stays even keel. The college coaches just want to feel like they have a fair and equal chance, and I want to make sure that happens.”
Dupre and Young both overcame obstacles to become two of the nation’s most sought-after recruits.
For Dupre, it was playing wide receiver in a run-happy offense.
“It was difficult at first,” Dupre said. “But as I got older, I realized it wasn’t just about me, but it was also about my team around me. This is such a great program. We worked on passing a lot in practice, so I felt like I was making improvement in my game. My numbers may have been low, but I felt like I was making progress as a player. The numbers didn’t matter to me at all.”
Dupre finished the season with 607 receiving yards in helping lead his team to a third consecutive state title. Curtis said the team planned to take advantage of Dupre’s big-play ability more, but those plans were altered early in the season when quarterback Abby Touzet broke his collarbone.
“In the world we live in now, if you have talent, you are going to get recognized,” Dupre said. “You look at the tough cornerbacks we have on our team like Terrence (Alexander) and Mattrell (McGraw), and that helped me improve my game. People put a lot into what happens in that 2½ hours on Friday night, but they don’t realize the other days of the week when you are actually putting in all the hard work.”
It’s that unselfish attitude that causes Curtis to give his star receiver high praise.
“That attitude will carry him a long way,” Curtis said. “When you combine that with the athletic ability he has, you are looking at a very special player.”
Young, meanwhile, overcame a severe ankle injury at the end of his sophomore year. After surgery, he rehabbed and came back even stronger, dominating opponents. He finished his senior season with a team-high 122 tackles, including a whopping 25 against St. Augustine.
“Kenny worked like a Trojan to get back to the level he wanted to play,” Curtis said.
He has a great work ethic, and he is always trying to improve himself. He takes constrictive criticism very well, and he always wants to know what he needs to become a better player.”
Both agree there is pressure to stay in-state and go to LSU, and they also agree they have to make the decision that is best for them.
Perhaps there is even more pressure for Dupre, especially since LSU receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landy both opted to enter the NFL draft. Dupre says that won’t affect his decision one bit.
“I get pressure from everybody to stay in Louisiana, but I don’t let that affect me, because I have to go to the best place for myself,” Dupre said. “It didn’t matter to me if Odell and Jarvis were leaving, because I am going to make my decision based on where I want to go and feel comfortable. I am going to go in and compete with guys, no matter how good they are. I won’t base my decision on what the depth chart looks like.”
Young has his criteria as well.
“Distance doesn’t matter to me,” said Young. “A winning program, of course, is important. Somewhere I am comfortable and somewhere with a coach who can take my talents to the next level. The conference doesn’t matter.”
The two have joked about possibly going to the same school but haven’t talked seriously about it.
“He is going to do what’s best for him, and I am going to do what’s best for me,” Young said. “If it’s the same school, so be it.”
Both players plan to make their decision known on National Signing Day, which is Feb. 5.
Young says there are times when he wishes signing day was March 5 instead. And there are other times when he wishes it was sooner.
“I really wish I had some more time,” Young said. “And then again I wish it was tomorrow so it can be over with.”