The Louisiana Bootleggers Invitational returns to action this Saturday as double-digit 7-on-7 teams flurry to Mandeville, La.’s Pelican Park for one of the nation’s most competitive, talent-laden tournaments.
A year ago, a loaded Fast Houston 7-on-7 team defeated the host Louisiana Bootleggers to take home the hardware. Both teams will return to the tournament this weekend along some of the region’s premier competition. That includes Team Texas Elite, EPS Blaze, Mississippi Grind, Air Assault, All-En and Coastline Stars from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, several of which have placed in tournaments all across the country already this spring.
Action is set to get underway around 10 a.m. local time on New Orleans’ north shore. Here are some of the prominent prospects to know:
The host Louisiana Bootleggers will trot out of one of the most talent-laden rosters in the tournament. Three-star Vandebilt Catholic (La.) quarterback Andrew Robison will get his chance under center and will have an extremely dynamic set of receivers to throw to, including 4-star LSU targets Trey Palmer, Devonta Lee, Christian Harris and Koy Moore. Makiya Tongue, Jha’Quan Jackson, Jacobi Bellazin, Quinton Torbor and versatile 3-star athlete Brandon Legendre round out the receiving corps. The Bootleggers should possess an edge in the deep-passing game thanks to Palmer and Moore, and with weapons like Harris, Tongue and Lee, in the red zone as well.
Defensively, the Bootleggers are anchored by their lockdown outside cornerback tandem of 5-star Derek Stingley Jr. and 4-star Chester Kimbrough. Three-star safeties Donald Clay Jr. and Ishmael Burdine will loom over center field while Greg Brooks Jr. and Jordan Clark man the nickel positions along with fast-rising sleeper Za’Bein Wilson.
It’s also worth noting that the Louisiana Bootleggers will trot out a second squad comprised of their younger talent. Rising 2020 passer Caleb Holstein will get the nod at quarterback along with 2020 receivers Trenton Grow, Jakhi Douglas, Detraveon Brown and Shamar Smith. On the other side of the ball, a young, talented group of defensive backs in Auston Jones, Jaden Henderson, Quinton Cage and Howard Joseph are a few to watch in the secondary.
The 2017 tournament champions will return to action in hopes of bringing the hardware back to Houston again this spring. While it’s certainly a different-looking team than it was a year ago, there is no shortage of talent on both sides of the ball for Fast Houston.
Fast Houston is quarterbacked by Katy (Texas) pro-style prospect Bronson McClelland, one of the top passers in the Class of 2021. One of McClelland’s top targets is 3-star 2019 wide receiver Rashee Rice, who at 6-foot-2 and almost 180 pounds, presents a huge option, particularly in the red zone. Plano (Texas) all-purpose back Kyron Cumby is a dangerous weapon out of the backfield.
The Fast secondary is coached by none other than alum Leon O’Neal, a Texas A&M signee. LSU fans are already familiar with a few of the contributors, including 4-star outside linebacker Marcel Brooks, who possesses incredible speed and quickness for a 6-foot-3, 200-pound prospect. One half of the field is patrolled by 4-star 2020 corner Dwight McGlothern, an LSU target with ties to Northern Louisiana. The other is oft-controlled by 5-star California cornerback Chris Steele, who will make an official visit to LSU for the spring game. That opens the door for opportunities for 3-star Oregon pledge Marques Caldwell, who at 6-foot-1 and 171 pounds, boasts several SEC, Big-12 and Big Ten offers, as well as Ja’Corey Benjamin.
Like Fast Houston, Mississippi Grind is re-stocked and re-loaded in 2018 and has a bevy of talent up and down its roster.
It begins at quarterback where rising 2020 quarterback Phillip Short has taken the reins. Short has generated interest from several SEC programs, including LSU and Mississippi State. He’ll be throwing to another LSU target in 4-star wide receiver Dannis Jackson, a top-120 prospect in the Class of 2019, who visited LSU earlier this spring. E. Jai Mason is a 4-star Class of 2020 wide receiver with a host of SEC offers, and at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, it’s easy to understand why. Four-star Ole Miss pledge Jerrion Ealy is the Grind’s top weapon out of the backfield.
Additionally, the Grind has top-100 athlete Diwun Black, an Ole Miss verbal, who can help on both sides of the ball. The same goes for 3-star 2019 athlete Dillon Johnson, a versatile two-way prospect, and sleeper Kiland Harrison.
Defensively, the secondary is anchored by Oklahoma commitment Jarrian Jones, who was a wanted man by LSU, Mississippi and Alabama, among others, before selecting the Sooners during his official visit last weekend. He’ll be flocked by 4-star cornerback Javorrius Selmon, a top target for both Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
EPS Blaze has been arguably the biggest surprise in the 7-on-7 ranks so far this spring.
The team’s recent surge in tournaments in New Orleans, Houston and Los Angeles has been largely due to the rise of 4-star Ponchatoula (La.) quarterback TJ Finley. The big, strong-armed passer has improved his accuracy, particularly in the deep-passing game, and is using 7-on-7 to sharpen his short and intermediate game.
Finley’s top receiving options include 2019 Welsh (La.) slot receiver Da’Ren Zeno, who has garnered several in-state offers along with Idaho, and has extremely impressive hands. On the other side is Amite (La.) 3-star wideout Kyle Maxwell, who is a long, athletic option who has impressed in the 7-on-7 and camp circuit thus far. Anthony Johnson, a versatile 2019 all-purpose back, is an added weapon out of the backfield for EPS Blaze.
Defensively, the Blaze are led by 2019 Wylie (Texas) cornerback Cameron White, who has certainly flown under the radar in his recruitment. At 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, White possesses good size and a nose for the football. He’ll be assisted by 2020 Amite (La.) defensive back Daran Branch, who at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, has a great frame and earned early offers from Memphis and Tulane, among others.
Team Texas Elite
Team Texas Elite is annually a powerhouse 7-on-7 program and the 2018 year is no exception. Of course, TTE has produced LSU players such as Grant Delpit and Kary Vincent Jr. This year’s squad certainly has the name recognition on the offensive side of the ball.
There are no shortage of household names in the receiving corps, including 4-stars Arjei Henderson and Trejan Bridges, who are both committed to Oklahoma. That’s a dynamic out wide in the passing game and arguably the best in the tournament Between Henderson’s crisp, explosive route-running and Bridges’ ability to make difficult catches in traffic, it will be difficult to slow down the TTE offense.
Three-star quarterback Terrance Gipson will direct the TTE offense. The 6-foot, 186-pound passer was one of the top performers at the Nike Opening regional in Houston in February. He has offers from Nebraska and Virginia, among others, while several other Power 5 teams are showing interest. Gibpon’s targets go well beyond Henderson and Bridges. He’ll have one of the top 2020 receivers in the country is 4-star Troy Omeire, who recently added offers from Georgia and Texas, as well as Parker Washington, a dangerous slot receiver.
Team Texas Elite will be short one of its best defenders in 4-star Oklahoma safety verbal Jamal Morris. Instead, the secondary will be manned by versatile 3-star defensive back Kaymen St. Junious and sleeper 2019 cornerback Jahlan Smith.
Air Assault was one of the top performing clubs in the Pylon New Orleans tournament back in February, but will now add its top weapon back to the fray in time for its return.
Erick Young, one of the nation’s premier lockdown cornerbacks, is healthy after breaking his wrist a few months ago and will play opposite fellow 4-star corner Bobby Wolfe in Air Assault’s dynamic secondary. That group also includes talented defensive backs such as 2019 3-star safety Jevin Murray, 2019 safety Myles Heard, 2019 cornerback Mekhi Davis and rising 2020 North Shore (Texas) corner Joseph Wilson. Of course, the attention will be placed on Young and Wolfe, who both hold LSU offers. Young recently excluded the Tigers from his top six; Wolfe included them in that elite group and has long had deep interest in the program.
Offensively, all eyes should be fixed on 2019 3-star quarterback Chris Herron, who was undoubtedly a top performer during the Pylon New Orleans event. Herron has a big-time arm but impresses largely with his ability to distribute the ball all over the yard. He holds offers from Baylor, TCU, Nebraska and Kansas State.
The Coastline Stars will make their return to the Louisiana Bootleggers Invitational for the second consecutive year after a strong performance in 2017. That squad was comprised of household names such as Lawrence Keys III, Joseph Foucha, Corione Harris and Devonta Jason, and the 2018 version certainly has some notable talent as well.
Offensively, the team is anchored by 3-star dual-threat quarterback Lance LeGendre, the top signal-caller in Louisiana’s 2019 class. LeGendre has had a quiet spring since committing to Kansas, but will draw the attention of schools such as LSU during the evaluation period. LeGendre has a familiar weapon in the backfield in 4-star 2020 Warren Easton (La.) teammate Ashaad Clayton. The versatile running back has been a dynamic pass-catcher for Coastline this spring and is expected at the LSU spring game later that evening. Clayton will split action with Salmen (La.) all-purpose back Aaron Williams, a shifty back with 4.4 speed who is dangerous out of the backfield.
Coastline also 3-star Riverside Academy (La.) receiver Kash Foley, a dynamic playmaker in the passing game and top-50 prospect in Louisiana’s 2019 group. Foley has garnered offers from Kentucky and Kansas this spring, among others, and should be a player worth monitoring on Satursay. Additionally, a name to know is 2021 Destrehan (La.) pass-catcher Quincy Brown. Brown is long, rangy and has incredibly strong hands. He’ll be a major asset for Coastline’s deep passing game.
Three-star West Jefferson (La.) cornerback Tyruss Gayden will see plenty of action in this tournament as he’ll be tasked with defending elite receivers throughout the afternoon. He has enjoyed a busy spring, collecting offers from Harvard and Army. There’s also 3-star Central (La.) Baton Rouge safety Anthony Shaffer, a big-time playmaker in the secondary that is on a lot of Power 5 team’s boards for 2019. Rising 2020 Landry-Walker (La.) defensive back Allen Davis will be a key piece at the nickel position.