Prep football stars exhibit class as they move up

National Signing Day seems to be all about the four- and five-star players announcing their college choice. But, in many locales, it is so much more than that.

In St. Charles Parish, students from Destrehan and Hahnville announced their future destinations but also showed a level of maturity and awareness for which they do not get enough credit.

Offensive lineman Larry Dixon of Hahnville signed with Southern University. Dixon said he thought of giving up football but is sure glad he did not. He thanked his coaches and the administration for keeping him on track. It was impressive stuff.

And he wasn’t finished. He thanked his parents and his friends. “Let’s be honest,” said Dixon. “We do this to make our friends and our parents happy.”

Destrehan lineman Samson Matthews, who signed with West Hills Community College in California, made us all laugh.

“I wanted to thank you all for coming,” said Matthews.

“I know you didn’t come for me.”

Hahnville cross country coach Shaun Crochet paid his top distance runner, Emily Blanchard, the ultimate compliment. “Before her, we didn’t believe we could win district,” he said. “With her, we expected to win every year.”

Destrehan offensive coordinator Greg Boyne tipped his hat to his archrivals. He looked toward Dixon and receiver Jamel Byrd.

“I am glad you guys are going,” Boyne said.

Poking fun at Pooka

Then he gave a long look at Hahnville star running back Pooka Williams: “And, I will help you pack.”

It was great stuff.

St. Charles Parish schools were the first of our many stops that day. I left impressed with a super group of students, teachers and administrators.

It was on to McDonogh 35, where running back Eddie Tillman had a surprise for his close friend, quarterback LeJohn Howard. The two buddies thought they were going their separate ways, but Tillman would surprise Howard by announcing his decision to follow him to Florida A&M University.

Tillman told reporters of his plan, then smiled. “He (Howard) doesn’t know,” said Tillman. “Don’t tell him.”

The two would be teammates again.

Chase saved LSU’s day

Hours later media would huddle at Archbishop Rummel for the announcement of five-star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

Chase chose LSU, giving the Tigers a bit of a lifeline on a disappointing day.

But Chase’s teammate, linebacker Aaron Brulé, was just as interesting a story. Brulé committed to Georgia, but the Bulldogs later pulled their scholarship offer. Brulé signed with Mississippi State, where he will be reunited with longtime friend, quarterback Keytaon Thompson.

Aaron Brulé handled a difficult time with a great deal of aplomb, and he was being rewarded.

It was then on to John Curtis, where several students signed in various sports. They included defensive back Brandon Davis, an impressive young man if there ever was one. Davis signed with the University of Tennessee. After a reporter offered congratulations, Davis pointed to his head coach, J.T. Curtis.

“All because of him,” said Davis.

In my travels across the state, I often hear laments about young athletes not being as hungry as their predecessors. But I am not buying it.

On National Signing Day, I saw the future, and know that it is in very good hands.

Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at

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