After evaluating the high school football talent throughout Louisiana during various camps, 7-on-7 competition, drills on campus and watching film, SEC Country is ready to unveil its inaugural prospect rankings for the Class of 2018.
Naturally, LSU holds commitments from a bevy of the talent included in the top 30 and is squarely in the mix with those who remain uncommitted at the time of these rankings.
Note: These rankings will be adjusted after the high school football season begins later this month. These evaluations are based on offseason workouts from February through July, including 7-on-7 competition and tournaments, Nike’s The Opening regional camps and Finals, as well various prospect camps across the state, including three held at LSU in June.
Without further ado, here are the top 30 prospects in Louisiana for 2018:
30. Michael Williams, 3-star ATH (6-foot-1, 230 pounds); uncommitted
Michael Williams is an interesting prospect to evaluate. He plays quarterback for Dunham High School, but will transition to a defensive lineman or linebacker role at the next level.
Offers from LSU and Alabama justify the potential, which is very visible when watching him in a camp setting. Williams has enough athleticism to play quarterback, which will aid him as he transitions to a full-time role on defense.
29. Ar’Darius Washington, 3-star DB (5-9, 160); LSU commit
Oft-referred to as the third leg of the Evangel trio that is committed to LSU, Ar’Darius Washington is a bonafide playmaker and his film proves it right away. Despite being undersized, Washington is a true center fielder at the back end of the defensive backfield. He shows great range and a knack for finding the football.
If you miss Washington on the field, here’s a solution: look for the football. He’ll transition to a nickel role in Corey Raymond’s secondary.
28. Marlon Young, DE/OLB (6-3, 245); uncommitted
The best pure pass rusher in the state for 2018, Marlon Young’s offer sheet does not reflect just how dominant an edge player he truly is. Young possesses a high motor and the ability to not only shed blocks, but run through would-be blockers.
He attacks opposing quarterbacks from a traditional rush-end role in the 4-3 defense, but also can generate a rush from a 9-technique out wide. His talents would easily translate to a stand-up rush position in a 3-4. While most of Young’s offers are from smaller and in-state schools, LSU and Alabama are very cognizant of this skilled edge rusher.
27. John Stephens Jr., 3-star ATH (6-5, 205); TCU commit
John Stephens’ frame and pure athleticism provide him with the versatility to play an array of different positions on the football field. He’s slated to be a wideout for TCU. In his film, he does not possess elite speed, but makes up for it with an incredible catch radius and tremendous yards-after-catch potential. While Stephens could play defensive end at the next level, he’ll be a great possession receiver in the Big 12.
26. Jeremy Gibson, 3-star RB (5-10, 190); Arkansas commit
Arguably the most well-rounded running back in the state, Jeremy Gibson was a key cog on Riverside’s state championship squad in 2016 and has the statistics to prove it. The 3-star tailback does everything really well. He has great lateral ability, terrific hands, is shifty and athletic enough to hurdle defenders, and if he finds a seam he’s likely gone. Gibson is an ideal fit for Arkansas’ run-heavy offense.
25. Jeremiah McDonald, 3-star S (6-3, 187); Northwestern commit
One of the sleepers in the state for 2018, Jeremiah McDonald’s film quickly reveals why he’ll be a playmaker in the Big Ten. The long, rangy safety has a college-ready build and is glue to the football. McDonald is the top playmaker on his defense and probably his entire football team at North Shore High School. Perhaps the trait that stands out most is his nose for the football.
24. Israel Mukuamu, 3-star S (6-5, 187); Florida State commit
Israel Mukuamu may be the best pure safety in Louisiana for 2018. A South Carolina transplant, he is already very sound in coverage. He has a frame akin to Arden Key, yet he can go stride-for-stride with speedy wide receivers at safety or playing on the outside at corner. It would not surprise me if he tacked 25 pounds of muscle to his frame and eventually became a pass rusher.
23. Nelson Jenkins, 3-star DL (6-3, 290); LSU commit
A versatile asset along the defensive line, Nelson Jenkins is a tweener capable of playing in a three- or four-man front, depending on the scheme. What stands out is his initial burst at contact.
Whether he’s lined up at tackle or end, Jenkins consistently fires off the ball and takes advantage of a devastating swim move. He possesses violent hands and could really prosper under the tutelage of Ed Orgeron and Pete Jenkins.
22. Dorian Camel, 3-star DB (6-1, 180); uncommitted
Dorian Camel is one of the best pure athletes in the state for 2018 and is just getting acclimated to being a defensive back. He plays safety for Scotlandville High School next to LSU commit Kelvin Joseph, and the two compliment each other quite well.
Camel is improving as a cover safety, but his state track championship speed is on a whole other level when blitzing off the edge. Eventually, he’ll be a consistent impact defender.
21. Joseph Foucha, 3-star DB (5-11, 194); uncommitted
My first glimpse of Joseph Foucha was as a freshman at McDonogh 35 in 2014 when he drained a pair of buzzer-beating 3-pointers on two separate occasions. A gifted natural athlete, Foucha’s skills translated very well to the football field.
He played next to current Florida freshman Brad Stewart the past three years and is now tasked with being a leader for the secondary. Foucha is especially aggressive, which can hurt him at times. However, that same competitive fire is what drives Foucha to be one of the hardest-hitting defenders and overall playmakers in Louisiana.
20. Eddie Smith, 3-star CB (6-0, 178); TCU commit
Eddie Smith has been forced to play on both sides of the ball for Salmen High School, but getting accustomed to cornerback in the 7-on-7 setting has paid major dividends.
Smith has great size for the position and is very, very athletic. That’s quite evident when watching him backpedal and move laterally on film, and especially in-person. His game has been taken to new heights in such a short period of time, it would not be surprising to see him become an impact freshman at TCU.
19: Aaron Brule’, 3-star S (6-1, 210); uncommitted
An absolute playmaker on the defensive side of the ball, Aaron Brule’ is listed as a safety but could easily be a linebacker at the next level. To me, he’s best suited for an outside linebacker role that combines his physical nature with above-average coverage skills. Brule’ is consistently making plays for the Rummel defense and is an absolute force to be reckoned with, regardless of his alignment.
18: Dantrieze Scott, 3-star ATH (6-6, 232); LSU commit
Dantrieze Scott might be the biggest sleeper in the state, but his offer and commitment to LSU will eventually make him a household name.
Playing for a Class 2A program, Scott takes reps at both tight end and defensive end, hence the “athlete” label next to his name. During LSU’s lineman camp, Scott was the most impressive prospect on hand, thriving as a violent edge rusher from a standup linebacker position.
With his size and natural ability to penetrate the backfield, Dennis Johnson and Dave Aranda will turn Scott into a standout BUCK in the 3-4 scheme.
17. Davin Cotton, 4-star DL (6-1, 262); LSU commit
Having watched Davin Cotton both in-person and on film, it’s hard to ignore that he is like glue to the football.
At 6-foot-1 and 260 or so pounds, his frame is the biggest drawback. Despite the size — or lack thereof — Cotton is a consistent playmaker capable of drawing in blockers and allowing the second layer of the defense to make plays around him. It remains undecided how he’ll fit into LSU’s defense, but Cotton possesses all of the tools necessary to be a role player in numerous spots along the front.
16. Slade Bolden, 3-star ATH (5-11, 195); Alabama commit
My first encounter with Slade Bolden came in 2014 in a playoff game in Covington. Bolden was entering his second month —yes, month — as West Monroe’s quarterback after being thrust into the position late in his freshman season. That year, Bolden led his team to the Class 5A championships.
Bolden plays a Tim Tebow-esque role for West Monroe, but will be a slot receiver/all-purpose back at the next level. He clocked a 4.47 40 laser time at Alabama’s camp in mid-July after he worked back into shape following baseball season. He has sure hands and usually possesses the edge when it comes to athletic ability.
As a running back, he is hard to contain when he gets a head of steam. As a receiver, he runs precise routes and can reel in any ball thrown in his vicinity.
15. Cameron Wire, 3-star OT (6-6, 285); LSU commit
Louisiana’s clear-cut top offensive lineman, Cameron Wire has a tremendous ceiling. Last season he played right tackle with now-Oklahoma freshman Adrian Ealy manning the left side.
Wire has been transitioning to left tackle and the offers continue to pour in. LSU, Alabama, Florida State and Texas were among his spring offers before he committed to LSU. His frame (6-6, 285) speaks for itself. He is aggressive and blocks through the whistle. While he is far from perfect as his craft, Wire flashes all of the potential you’d want out of a future left tackle. He should be considered a centerpiece of LSU’s 2018 class.
14. Dare Rosenthal, 4-star DL (6-7, 331); LSU commit
Dare Rosenthal committed to LSU partly because of Orgeron’s willingness to allow the 6-foot-7, 330-plus-pounder to play on the defensive line. He worked out at both defensive tackle and end during the June camp and showed encouraging signs.
At his size and with his athleticism, Rosenthal is a load for any offensive lineman. Ultimately, he is best suited to be an offensive tackle. In his film, he’s used as a blocker all over the field and dominates at the point of attack. Seriously, it’s not even a contest.
Whether he’ll eventually be moved to offense or uses those skills along the defensive front, Rosenthal has all the potential to be a difference-making prospect in time.
13. AJ Carter, 3-star RB (6-1, 225); UCLA commit
AJ Carter distinguished himself as Louisiana’s No. 1 running back with a notable performance at LSU’s elite camp in June. At 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, the downhill runner clocked a 4.5-second 40 time before walking away with an offer in hand. He’s the only tailback in the state to garner an offer from LSU, which speaks volumes about what its coaching staff believes he’s capable of.
Carter’s size makes him a menace to bring down. He doesn’t possess elite speed, but he hits holes hard enough to always fall forward. He also has underrated pass-catching abilities. UCLA is getting a talented runner.
12. Jaray Jenkins, 3-star WR (6-1, 175); LSU commit
Jaray Jenkins’ film shows a prospect capable of making an impact in all three phases of the game. He’s a big-play wide receiver, talented defensive back and special returner. He’s likely to fill at least two of those voids in Baton Rouge.
During LSU’s skill position camp, Jenkins did not lose a single rep. He was explosive, shifty and displayed great hands. Jenkins also took reps at defensive back and was impressive there, too. He has all the tools to be an explosive option on the outside or in the slot.
11. Glenn Beal, 3-star TE (6-5, 250); uncommitted
Louisiana’s clear-cut No. 1 tight end, Glenn Beal has quietly been honing his craft as both a blocker and a pass-catcher. One college coach suggested that he could even rush the passer full-time, which is not completely out of the question considering his frame and athleticism.
Beal has slimmed down since his junior year, which shows in his route-running. He has always possessed really strong hands, which are getting better with more opportunities. Most impressive: Beal has the ability to run every route expected by a pass-catching tight end and win those battles consistently.
10. Lawrence Keys III, 4-star WR (5-11, 170); uncommitted
If Lawrence Keys were 2 inches taller, he might hold offers from every school in the country. Even at 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, he has nearly 40.
Keys is the ideal slot receiver because he has sure hands and is absolutely explosive. McDonogh 35 does a fantastic job of finding ways to get the ball in Keys’ hands, whether it’s on screens, short crossing routes or allowing him to beat defensive backs over the top. Keys excels in all of those phases and is one of the most consistent pass-catchers in the state.
9. Corione Harris, 4-star CB (6-0, 165); Kansas commit
Corione Harris was deemed the top defensive back in the state early in his recruitment. He procured an offer from LSU as a freshman at Landry-Walker and has consistently worked to improve his craft.
Harris is a true student of the game with a hunger to keep on improving. He has tremendous size and natural ball skills for the position, but Harris thrives the most when he’s up against it. When playing with a chip on his shoulder, I’d likely bet on Harris.
8. Damone Clark, 4-star LB (6-3, 218); LSU commit
Damone Clark is the most versatile defensive prospect in the state and will become a household name by the time December rolls around, if not sooner.
The rangy linebacker is transitioning from a strong safety role at Southern Lab to an in-the-box position formerly manned by current Alabama freshman Christopher Allen. Clark will be asked to defend the run, the pass and rush the passer this season, all aspects of his game he’s perfecting. His experience in the secondary is serving him well as he transitions to a full-time linebacker, and his pure athleticism helps him be a factor on every down.
7. Kenan Jones, 4-star WR (6-3, 205); LSU commit
Kenan Jones’ frame speaks for itself. He drew his offer from LSU last July during the elite high school camp and instantly became then-receivers coach Dameyune Craig’s favorite target at the position.
Jones possesses a ton of pure athleticism and an even more impressive work ethic of which many are not aware. The Berwick High School coaches like to line up Jones all over the field to create mismatches and allow Jones to work. He’s still a bit raw and has been hamstrung by an MCL injury, but when healthy, he has the ability to lead the state in receiving yardage in 2017.
6. Micah Baskerville, 3-star LB (6-3, 220); LSU commit
It was not easy to rank Micah Baskerville higher than Clark, but the Evangel linebacker consistently drew my attention with his performance in Oregon at The Opening Finals.
Baskerville has the ideal size to be a thumper at inside linebacker and his film proves he’s a force in run defense. What stood out in Oregon was his deceptive skills in pass coverage — to stick on running backs and tight ends. He’s not a talker, but Baskerville’s well-rounded game speaks for itself.
5. Devonta Jason, 4-star WR (6-3, 218); Kansas commit
Watching Devonta Jason in-person or on film tends to yield the types of highlights you would expect to be featured on SportsCenter on a nightly basis.
The big-bodied wide receiver does not possess game-changing speed, but Jason separates himself with his frame, vertical ability and physical nature. When it comes to 50-50 balls, there is not a receiver in the country I would trust more than Jason.
Jason makes up for his lack of top speed with incredible hands, an uncanny ability to box out defenders and tremendous yards-after-catch potential. There are few receivers as consistently productive as Jason.
4. Ja’Marr Chase, 4-star WR (6-2, 200); Florida commit
The debate over who would be ranked as the state’s No. 2 receiver between Ja’Marr Chase and Devonta Jason was probably my toughest decision in these rankings. While Jason gets an upper hand due to his physicality and hands, Chase is an absolute freak who just happens to play wide receiver.
Chase doesn’t run a 4.3, but his 4.5 speed often looks much faster on the field. He needs little separation to get open because — truth be told — he is always open. Chase has freakish ups and a knack for the big bonus bomb. The best comparison for Chase is another New Orleans native: Odell Beckham Jr.
3. Justin Rogers, 4-star QB (6-4, 210); TCU commit
Easily the top quarterback in the state and one of the elite few in the entire country, Justin Rogers is a prospect who took his game to new heights in the spring. The dual-threat prospect can sling a deep ball better than most, but the 7-on-7 setting gave him an opportunity to fine-tune his short and intermediate passing game.
Rogers’ Harvard offer is a hint that he has a good football IQ, but it certainly comes into play with anticipating his receivers’ moves and putting the ball in a position where only they can grab it. There’s little doubt that Rogers will be a big-name quarterback in the college ranks in due time.
2. Kelvin Joseph, 4-star DB (6-1, 191); LSU commit
Kelvin Joseph burst onto the scene when he committed to LSU 18 months ago, but since then has quickly stolen and held on to the title as the top defensive back in an always-loaded Louisiana crop.
Joseph makes a living out of being physical in coverage. His muscular build makes him a mismatch for less-physical receivers and his fearlessness gives him an edge to never give up on a play. Joseph has the ability to play both cornerback and safety, which is why I consider him a pure defensive back. At safety, Joseph shines with his ability to patrol center field and deliver knockout blows to receivers all over the field or in the run game. Joseph can stand to improve some technical parts of his game, but he could easily make a Day 1 impact at LSU at a bevy of different positions.
1. Terrace Marshall Jr., 5-star WR (6-3, 192); uncommitted
Terrace Marshall takes the cake as the No. 1 prospect in the top 30, which should come as no surprise to those who follow the recruiting game.
Marshall is as polished a wide receiver to come out of The Boot since Jarvis Landry back in 2011. He is a superb route-runner with good hands and his frame allows him to beat up on smaller defensive backs. He has no hesitation about snatching balls over the middle. What impresses me the most is the strides he has made off the field. Last summer, the 5-star receiver was benched during a 7-on-7 tournament in Dallas. After putting in work during the offseason, Marshall had a monstrous junior season and has since dominated the competition. He’s the top prospect in the state and top wideout in the country, and I credit the ferocity he’s played with since last July as a reason why.