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River Parish players provide talent to smaller out-of-state colleges

  • Tags:
  • National Signing Day
  • By:
  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • February 05, 2014 - 12:56pm

Destrehan High's Malcolm Darensbourg was one of several River Parish players to sign with out-of-state teams Wednesday. Darensbourg is head to Arkansas-Monticello.

While much of the focus on National Signing Day is on the big-time programs, smaller out-of-state schools continue to give River Parish players a chance to further their education while getting a chance to continue to play college football.

A total of 19 players from the River Parishes on Wednesday signed to play at programs from out of state at the Football Championship Subdivision or below. Those numbers are high even by recent River Parish standards.

Of the total, 12 were from East St. John.

“The in-state schools can’t sign everybody but it’s a hotbed. Louisiana high school football is about as good as you get all over the country,” East St. John coach Phillip Banko said.

“Louisiana is an easy place to recruit. You can come into I-10; most of the players in Louisiana are off of the I-10 corridor,” said outgoing Hahnville coach Lou Valdin. “We have kids (over the years) going Contra Costa College, Faulkner, Marist and Bethel (among others).”

Among the out-of-state signees from East St. John, four chose to attend Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss. Belhaven nabbed Wildcats offensive linemen Blaze Diaz, Jeron Smith and Karon Wilkens, along with receiver Jacob McNeil.

“I have half my offensive linemen so it will be like high school,” McNeil said.

Another pair of ESJ players that will continue to be teammates in college is Trey Harris and Andrew Weber, both of whom opted for Henderson State in Arkansas.

In what is believed to be a first for East St. John, a Wildcat is headed to the Ivy League with defensive lineman Davaron Stockman’s signing with Dartmouth.

“I know it will be a hard transition and I will be homesick but I feel I can overcome it since I’ve overcome a lot of things. Basically, I’m ready for the challenge,” said Stockman.

A couple of East St. John players are headed for Ohio after Derek Simoneaux signed with Kenyon College and Daryl Means with Bluffton University.

Others from ESJ signing with out-of-state schools include Ashton Millet with Denison College, Kyle Patterson with Promfret Prep in New Haven, Conn., and Rashaud Taylor with Southeast Prep in Houston.

Of the seven players from Hahnville to sign Wednesday, three are headed out of state. Shawn Benson signed with Copiah Lincoln Junior College in Mississippi, while the duo of running back Lynn Simmons and receiver Ricky Davis are headed to Contra Costa College.

“It will be my first time to California. I can’t wait to get to the new stuff,” said Simmons.

The new stuff for Simmons will include living away from home.

“I need to stay focused, keep up with my grades, stay out of trouble and keep my mindset focused on a straight and narrow road,” Simmons said.

Helping the transition of going to school out of state is having a high school teammate along for the journey as Davis has with Simmons.

“There are two of us. That’s pretty good. It will be easier,” Davis said. “I was scared to go out there all by myself and now I have somebody going out there with me, it should be all good. We will room together and help each other out.

Even with Simmons in tow, Davis said he expects being away from home to be a big challenge.

“It’s totally different out there in California than in Louisiana. I’m a country boy and I will have to get used to being in the city a lot. It’s so big out there. It’s a whole other world,” said Davis.

Destrehan’s Malcolm Darensbourg is headed for Arkansas-Monticello.

“They started recruiting me two weeks ago. I didn’t think I would be playing football after the season ended. Getting an offer from them and going up there and the coaches were all love and good people. It’s real exciting going up there and still have an opportunity to play football and they are paying for my college,” said Darensbourg.

Going to Arkansas-Monticello on his recruiting visit, Darensbourg said he experienced a sense of being a bit homesick that he knows he will have to deal with.

“It’s a part of growing up. You go out there for four years and you come back a man,” said Darensbourg.

Like Hahnville, West St. John continued its string of placing multiple players at out-of-state schools.

“Recruiting and promoting kids, generally, is not a (high school) coach’s responsibility but I enjoy it. I just feel like there is no way I can pay the kids back for what they’ve given me. My staff, we really do feel that it’s our duty to promote them as much as we can give them the exposure they need to have opportunities elsewhere,” said West St. John coach Robert Valdez.

One of the West St. John players headed out of state is Brandon Mathews. Mathews had been recruited by Grambling State assistant coach Dennis Winston. When Winston and the rest of the Grambling staff were dismissed, the former NFL linebacker moved on to Eastern Illinois and Mathews decided to follow.

“He made a promise he would take me wherever he went and he was true to his word,” Mathews said. “I went up there last weekend and it was like home to me.”

A couple of Rams teammates are headed out of state. Running back Jeremy Jackson and receiver Lafarrin Stipe signed with Arkansas Baptist Junior College.

“It will be a hard time to adjust, but I think I will be good. I always wanted to get away and explore the world. I’m just ready to get on the field again and play football,” said Jackson.

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.