Hotard: Louisiana hasn’t seen many QBs like Brandon Harris lately

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson

After finishing his junior season at Parkway High School in Bossier City with little national fanfare, Brandon Harris ascended the recruiting rankings this spring to become one of the big names in one of the state of Louisiana’s better recruiting classes.

Harris has been courted by a Who’s Who of college football powers but recently narrowed his choices to LSU, Auburn and Ohio State. He plans to make his commitment Thursday.

A gifted athlete with a strong arm and quick feet, Harris is the kind of high-end quarterback prospect Louisiana once churned out like seafood and oil. But the state’s production of quarterbacks has hit a stalemate in recent years.

In the nine years since he became LSU’s coach, Les Miles has mostly had to travel outside his program’s wheelhouse to find a quarterback.

Miles signed former East St. John star Ryan Perrilloux in 2005 and Jordan Jefferson from Destrehan in 2008, but the other 10 signal-callers he has signed during his LSU tenure were out-of-staters.

Five scholarship quarterbacks will be on the roster this year — none from Louisiana.

Those may not be such curious stats if Miles coached in a state that didn’t produce droves of Southeastern Conference talent at all other positions.

Or if he didn’t coach in a state that, until recently, was known for producing quarterbacks.

Western Pennsylvania is generally considered the cradle of quarterbacks, but Louisiana has had four of them (Terry Bradshaw, Doug Williams and Peyton and Eli Manning) combine for eight Super Bowl victories. Stan Humphries, David Woodley and Jake Delhomme played in the big game but come up short.

Yet the state hasn’t turned out a national recruit at the position since Perrilloux, who followed the likes of Josh and John David Booty, Brock Berlin and Robert Lane as a bluechip prospect.

Munchie Legaux of Karr started the first eight games of 2012 for Cincinnati and will have a chance to regain the starting job this fall. Terrance Broadway of Capitol looks like an emerging star at Louisiana-Lafayette as he begins his junior year.

But Harris will come out of high school with much more buzz than either of those players did.

ESPN lists Harris as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 48 prospect overall. Rivals ranks him No. 5 among dual-threat quarterbacks and No. 186 overall. According to 247Sports, the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder is the nation’s second-best dual-threat quarterback and 97th-best prospect overall.

Harris has committed to play in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl. In less than a week, he will commit to one of three college finalists.

Given how little opportunity Miles and his staff have had to keep a top-tier, homegrown quarterback in state, you have to believe that Auburn or Ohio State will have a hard time pulling him away.