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December 17, 2002
Super recruits star in Super Dome
NEW ORLEANS - Walking through New Orleans this weekend it was easy to spot fans from both West Monroe and Shreveport Evangel Christian walking the streets decked out in blue and red. On the Super Dome turf Saturday it was also easy to spot out the blue-chip recruits that the college coaches covet, too.
The name that comes to the top of everybody's mind when it comes to Evangel and West Monroe is junior quarterback John David Booty.
And Booty didn't disappoint.
He completed 10 of 21 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns. That for the season gave him 3,957 yards passing and 37 touchdowns.
Those numbers alone are enough to impress any observer, especially the college coaches handing out early scholarship offers to the 6-foot-4, 190-pound quarterback.
The stats are just part of the story with Booty, though. He runs a very complicated offense that can attack a defense in a number of different ways.
It's not uncommon for Booty to call an audible at the line of scrimmage or execute a play-action pass with good ball handling skills, but on Saturday it was his ability to convert a trick play that shows how special he is.
Early in the game, Booty (right with receiver Tristen Ross) converted a huge third-and-15 at the Eagles' 37-yard line into one of the most exciting plays ever seen.
Booty took the snap, handed it to junior running back Jacob Hester (more about him tomorrow), who then handed it to receiver Denny Duron. Duron then threw a lateral back to Booty, who whipped the ball at least 70 yards in the air across from the left side of the field to the right for the 63-yard score.
With all the positives that Booty does bring to the table - and the list of those is very, very long - he might still rank behind a few players in the Class of 2004 in the state of Louisiana and he's likely to be ranked by Rivals100.com behind Texas superstar Rhett Bomar of Grand Prairie.
After seeing Booty before his sophomore season at the LSU Nike Camp, you noticed that he had a cannon for an arm and a good frame. And now a full year and a half later, Booty has yet to fully fill into that frame and looks a lot like a basketball player with his build so tall and skinny.
But he still does have that cannon, a ton of experience throwing the ball and should still be one of the elite quarterback prospects for the upcoming recruiting class.
Booty is just one of many recruits on the Evangel squad.
Senior four-star receiver Tristen Ross, who is committed to Oklahoma, didn't disappoint with another big game in his career that was filled with big games.
Ross will not kill you with your speed. If you were to line him up in a foot race with O.P. Walker's Craig Davis (who was profiled on Monday on Rivals100.com), Davis would probably win. But that's not Ross' game.
Ross' game is to catch anything and everything thrown in his direction. And that's what he does. His fundamentals and route running are precise and he has some of the best hands that Rivals100.com has seen this season.
But Ross does have a nice burst, too. He out-ran a defender middle of the third quarter for an 80-yard touchdown catch.
There is no question that Ross will fit what Oklahoma wants and needs from its receivers and he is worthy of the national recruiting attention he received, even if some of the locals downed him because he didn't consider LSU or was as flashy of a recruit as Davis is.
Texas Tech's duo of commitments from Evangel also had big games and looked quite solid.
Rivals100 has always been a big Chad Johnson fan, and the cover corner didn't challenged too much Saturday night because West Monroe's offense couldn't get much of an attack going in the air. But he did make a few big plays on punt and kickoff returns.
Defensive tackle Kenyunta Dawson (right) looked every bit the 6-foot-2, 240-pounds that he's listed at. He didn't make a ton of huge plays, but he was often getting occupied by two offensive linemen, opening up holes for the Evangel linebackers to come up and make big plays.
Dawson isn't the tallest kid around, but he should fit in quite fine with what Texas Tech likes to do with its defensive linemen, plus he has the frame to easily add 20 or 30 pounds of muscle mass.
West Monroe is noticeably absent of major D-I power this season but there is a Rebel defensive lineman that is starting to make some recruiting waves.
Defensive tackle D.J. Ernst (left) looked solid in run defense against Evangel, but some times struggled when attempting to chase Booty down in passing situations. But there is a nice upside to Ernst, especially when you look at his 6-foot-3, 270-pound frame.
Plus, Ernst did not ever give up on a play, no matter where the ball was at, he was hustling to attempt to get to there. That's what you want to see from your defensive linemen.
On Friday, two of the state's top small-class senior recruits captured a state championship.
Port Barre three-star recruits Daniel Francis and Marvin White both came up big with Francis scoring four touchdowns rushing and White recording 15 tackles on defense.
Honestly, White looks to be the better recruit with his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame and headhunter mentality from his safety position. However, there look to be some off the field issues that might keep him from playing D-I football right away, if ever.
But if somebody is willing to take a chance on a prospect White might be that guy because he was always near the ball and made several jarring hits that would make Ronnie Lott proud.
Then there is Francis, who is listed by Rivals100 as a receiver but will likely play defensive back in college.
Francis (right) did it all on offense for Port Barre. His four touchdowns proved that, and when he did decide to turn the jets on he could. He showed nice explosion and was probably the fastest kid on the turf this weekend.
But the slight knock on him is that he often didn't turn it on and was seen to take a few plays off - but that's not going to happen when he has a college coach riding him making sure that he's going to be going all out on every play.
Francis is LSU's guy to win or lose, and after an official visit to Tulane this past weekend will trip to LSU on January 17.
Coming Wednesday: A look at the top underclassmen that were on hand this past weekend.