NEW ORLEANS — Situated less than an hour away from LSU’s campus, New Orleans has long served as a pipeline to the nearby Tigers in Baton Rouge, La.
The rest of the SEC has taken notice of those fertile recruiting grounds, though, and one of LSU’s primary SEC West rivals is using a New Orleans native to make waves in his hometown.
Meet Arkansas wide receivers coach Michael Smith. A graduate of Jesuit High School, Smith played in New Orleans’ storied Catholic League, which feeds players to colleges across the nation.
Some of the league’s best — such as Leonard Fournette, who played high school football at St. Augustine — often wind up at LSU.
Thanks to Smith, however, many in the Catholic League and elsewhere across the city are now considering Arkansas.
“There’s a lot of great Louisiana players at Arkansas, a lot that came out of the Catholic League,” said three-star linebacker Giovanni LaFrance, a St. Augustine prospect that committed to the Razorbacks on Saturday.
“Michael Smith played in the Catholic League,” LaFrance added. “Now he’s recruiting players out of the Catholic League because he knows a lot of the players are good.”
Arkansas’ current roster features six players that hail from The Boot, including two that played in the Catholic League: Dwayne Eugene and Henre’ Toliver, both from Archbishop Rummel.
Rummel is also where four-star defensive lineman and Razorbacks pledge Briston Guidry has been an All-State selection the past two years.
Guidry, too, believes Arkansas is turning a corner with bringing in New Orleans area talent to Fayetteville, Ark.
“It’s going good,” Guidry said of the process. “We’re really going to have a nice class this year. (LaFrance) and (De’Jon Harris) — that’s crazy. But all we need is Kris (Fulton) to be the icing on the cake.”
Guidry, LaFrance and Harris are three New Orleans natives in Arkansas’ 2016 class. The fourth prospect out of Louisiana is three-star quarterback Cole Kelley, who’s from the central part of the state.
Arkansas is trying to make it five players from Louisiana in its current class — the last being another Catholic League standout in Fulton.
A five-star prospect and the nation’s No. 2 cornerback, Fulton recently wrapped up an official visit to Arkansas along with his New Orleans counterparts.
The nationally coveted defensive back is currently leaning toward LSU, but he also has to weigh his future at both Arkansas, as well as Florida.
Harris, a three-star linebacker from John Ehret High School (Marrero, La.), believes nabbing a commitment from Fulton could go a long way — not only for the Razorbacks’ 2016 class, but for the program’s future recruiting success in the area.
“They need some more Louisiana guys,” Harris said. “It helps that I’m future. They kind of get the best guys that some of the other big schools passed up on. But they’re making a good impact.”
All player ranking and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.