February 24, 2020

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LA High School Football

Diamond In The Rough: Karl Taylor

Karl Taylor is a well-rounded free safety from Midland Lee, Texas. Watching Karl play, he exhibits good awareness and is involved in the play often and he aggressively pursuits the ball carrier once he recognizes the play. When he drops into coverage, he has good lateral mobility and his hips swivel smoothly, giving him the ability to cover a lot of ground without slowing down. This is further shown by his ability to run a 4.5 flat forty-yard dash. Karl is 6’1” 180 pounds and has a good frame where he can put on some more weight if he needs to. Karl is physical tackler with the ability to go high or low, and just has a knack for bringing people to the ground. Off the field his play is reflected in the weight room where he benches 225 pounds squats 425 and power cleans 255. In the classroom Karl is an excellent student with a 3.5 GPA.

When did you start playing football?

I started playing flag when he was about three. I did not start tackle until I was in third grade. I started because my family loves football and I was always around it when I was a kid. My dad also played at Lee, so I am a second generation there. It is funny, I used to play quarterback my freshman year, but our corner got hurt. I asked coach for a chance to play, and he gave it to me. Later in the season our free safety got hurt, so I moved there.

What is your favorite thing about football?

You get to assault people and not get in trouble for it, it is part of the reason I play why I like safety so much. Hitting people relieves the stresses I get from everyday life, so it is a nice outlet.

What qualities or values make you the player you are?

I am a well-rounded player, I can cover well, I am good at tackling, I can scan read the field and have good instincts. There is not a weakness to my game.

What are your hobbies outside of football?

I like the outdoors, I like to hunt, fish, and barbeque. I am just a normal country boy from West Texas.

At what moment did you realize you loved football?

My first practice, I was exposed to a competitive environment and fell in love with it. I like showing off my ability. In my eigth grade year specifically we did good, and that is when I knew for sure that football was not just a game.

What has football taught you off the field?

Football has shaped me into a man, doing all the little things correct like being respectful, always work hard in everything I do, and paying attention to details. Football has developed my character and matured me more than most people my age. Most importantly football has taught me to try and positively impact the world.

Has football helped you overcome anything in your personal life?

Some days in life are hard, takes frustrations and stress away, being around a team going through the same struggles as me. It is a special bond

Who is your biggest role model?

My dad, he shaped me into the man am I am today. He has always been there for me. Whenever I have a problem, I can trust and rely on him to help me in any way he can.

What is your intended major in college?

I have a lot of different interests, so I am not sure yet, I am considering business management, or kinesiology, or mechanical engineering.

Do you model your game after anyone?

I have been a fan Jamaal Adams, Brian Dawkins, I try to take little things from them, but I try to be myself, and play my type of football. 

What is the easiest and hardest part of playing Safety?

The easiest for me is seeing the whole field, football is a big field, but experience helps, and every play and every practice it gets easier to me. It is to the point where it is a sixth sense. The hardest is covering run pass options, there is some much that can happen, and I have a lot of responsibilities on them. I do a good job on them though.

Do you see yourself as a leader on the team?

I do, I was made a captain last year as a junior which was an honor, It is not often when a junior becomes a captain. It was such an honor and matured me because I had a whole team looking up to me. Me and the other captains have a mutual respect and we lead the team in the right direction.

What is your favorite play?

Any type of safety blitz for me, I do not get to blitz often, so when I do, I try to make it count. Offensively there is a package where I go in as a quarterback. We use it in short yardage situations, and I have scored a twice from it this year.

What is your favorite part of playing safety?

Safety is a well-rounded position; I get to be a part of every aspect of defense. I get to cover, blitz, lineup in the box, outside. The position is versatile, and I enjoy that. 

Diamond In The Rough: J’Mani Gibson

J’Mani Gibson is a 6’1 325-pound defensive tackle out of Fort Bend Travis high school. The first thing that stands out when you watch J’Mani play is his size, he is difficult to move and imposes his size and strength on offensive lineman. In the weight room, he benches 425 pounds, squats 600 pounds, and power cleans 315 pounds. Gibson has good use of his hands and engages the offensive lineman quickly and thrusts them upwards getting them off balance, before tossing them to the side. Even though is heavy, he has a quick first step getting off the ball, disrupting the offense often. J’Mani shows good football acumen and seems to be in the right place often. This is reflected in the classroom where he has a 3.2 GPA.

When/How/Why did you start playing football?

I started playing flag when I was five, I did not start tackle until I was nine. Football was always something I wanted to do. Almost all the guys in my family had played and like most Texas boys, football is a way of life. It would be weird if I did not play football. was something I wanted to do my brothers were, my dad, my uncles, it runs in the family.

What is your favorite thing about football?

It is not only allowed but encouraged to hit people, wacking people and not getting in trouble for it is my kind of sport. I also love the team aspect; these guys are my brothers and we will do anything for each other. What qualities or values make you the player you are?  

At what moment did you realize you loved football?

It is funny how I realized it. We were in eighth grade and being punished, and the realized if I did not love football, I would not be here right now doing up-downs and running laps.

What has football taught you off the field?

How to be a leader, I know how to inspire people and push them to do better. I learned to bring people together. Life is hard and football has made me tougher and has prepared me for the difficulties of life. I feel like I can overcome so much just because football has made me tougher.

Has football helped you overcome anything in your personal life?

Yeah actually, recently my friend and teammate passed away. We had played together, and he is someone I cried with, worked with, and bled with. Football brought our team together and helped us get through it. Seeing everyone being at the wake had me in awe, because football brought us all together, and I probably know or care about a lot of these guys without it.

Who is your biggest role model?

My mother, she works day and night to make sure we have what we have. I get my hard work mentality from her. She has given us everything, and I am very thankful for it.

What is your intended major for college?

I want to go into engineering, I’m not sure if I want to go into mechanical or aerospace though. It is something I have found interesting since middle school when I took my first class.

How do you prepare for games?

Watch clips of Lawrence Taylor and Reggie White. They are amazing, the best to do it on the defensive line. I try to use some of their moves, mostly Reggie, we have a similar style of play.

What is the hardest and easiest part of playing defensive tackle?

The hardest part is getting double and triple-teamed, which happens quite often, but I am good at splitting them or still disrupting the play when it happens. The easiest part is the opposite, it is one I get a one on one, it is hard to beat me in one on ones, it is where I show my dominance to the other team.

Define your style of play?

I play methodically, I try to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of my opponent. I also have a good motor, I am going to go at you 100 percent every play, and they are not going to be able to stop me.

What is your favorite play?

We have a play called Texas, I drop to LB, and I follow the ballcarrier. One time they ran a jet and I caught the receiver off guard, and I destroyed him, he fumbled on the hit.

Diamond In The Rough: Dan Dishman

Dan is a four star recruit out of Clear Falls High School. Standing at a staggering 6’6, his height makes him stand out like a sore thumb on the field. Dan’s size makes him an easy target for his quarterback, while also making him an ideal blocker. What Dan lacks for in weight, he makes up for in speed. Dan’s footwork and vertical speed are impressive for any receiver, let alone a man of his stature. He flies by any cornerback who guards him too close and dances around those who try to jam him upfront. Off the field, Dan is a diligent student, maintaining a 3.8 GPA while juggling football and other extracurricular activities as well. I had the privilege of speaking with Dan and got to learn a little more about his life. Some key questions from our interview are included below.

When did you get involved in football?

  •  I started playing back in 4th grade in Little League for the League City 49’s, but then took a brake until 7th grade. I’ve been playing football ever since.

What made you fall in love with the game?

  • I come from an athletic family – my dad was a professional baseball player – so I was always involved in sports. I chose football over baseball because I found football to be more action packed and entertaining.

Who is your favorite NFL player?

  • Rob Gronkowski is my favorite player. I love how he plays so physically – like a grown man. I want to be as big and physical as him.

What are your strengths as a football player?

  • I’m a big man with surprising speed. I’m larger than most cornerbacks, so they don’t expect me to be faster than them. I’m also a great perimeter blocker, because I’m bigger and stronger than most cornerbacks.

How do you deal with adversity on and off the field?

  • On the field, I tend to play with a free mind, just enjoying myself and the game. But if I mess up or things start to go wrong, that’s when I get mad. When I get mad, it focuses me and gets me in the zone so I can overcome any adversity. Off the field, I tend to deal with things slowly. I take my time to make sure I do things right and push through any difficulty.

Who has influenced you most in your life?

  • My parents for sure. They have always worked hard for me and I’ve learned through their examples the values of hard work and perseverance. I appreciate them so much.

How do you balance school and football?

  • School always comes first. I make sure to do all my work first, but then I’m all in on football. That’s how I’ve maintained my 3.8 GPA while also being a starter.

Do you have any goals for the season?

  • I want to score 20 TD’s this season, while also making First Team All-District. I’m also really excited for our team, we’re undefeated at the moment and have high hopes for the playoffs.

What have you been working on or need to work on to compete at the next level?

  • I want to work on my foot speed, having quick feet is always a priority for receivers. I also want to work on my strength; I will be a regular in the weight room this off season.

What makes you stand out from your competition?

  • My height and speed are what set me apart from your average wide receiver. Because of my size, I block well and can also play tight end, so I’m very versatile. I also have a winner’s mindset. I go into every play thinking: ‘I’m better than this guy.’ or ‘Beat this guy on this play.’ That type of attitude is what helps me play better, faster and stronger than my competitors.

What are some of your core values?

  • My parents and church always taught me to help others. I recognized that I have grown up privileged and just want to give back to the community that raised me and to people who have not been as blessed as I have.

Diamond In The Rough: Josh White

Josh is an experienced linebacker with quick feet and great vision. He consistently finds the gap in the offensive line and exploits the opposing team’s weaknesses every play. Though he may look small on tape, Josh’s 6’1, 200-pound frame packs a heavy punch. When he gets a straight shot at a player, there is no question that he will level them – quarterbacks beware! Josh stands out in the classroom as much as he does on the field. With a 3.4 GPA, Josh is committed to academic excellence as much as any other student. Below is a short exert of our interview.

What have you learned through playing football?

  • Football teaches you a lot of life lessons including how to be disciplined, how to work through adversity and how to be a man. It’s taught me that when things get tough to never give up and to push through. Football has also taught me to always be ready for anything and to be able to think on my feet.

How has football made you a better leader?

  • When a game makes a bad turn, I’ve stepped up as a leader to pull us together and refocus the team. I’ve always led by example, being the guy who works hard no matter how badly I want to stop. I’ve also learned that your attitude is a big factor when leading. Other people act the way you do, so even when you’re in a bad mood, you have to put that behind you as soon as practice or a game starts. A leader’s attitude is contagious, and I want my team to have the best mindset at all times.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

  • Definitely my mom. She has been so amazing – doing the best job raising me as a single mother. She’s always taught me to be accountable and has taught me the value of hard work. She had to take two jobs to take care of our family and I can’t thank her enough for how much she has done for me.

How have you balanced school and football and what major are you interested in?

  • I’ve always liked to keep school and football separate in my mind. I go into the classroom with the mindset that I will not get football scholarships to college, but instead have to earn scholarships through grades. That has always kept me motivated and hard working in the classroom. As far as a major goes, I’m interested in finance and marketing right now. I’m just a sociable guy, so I think I would be good at sales.

What are some of your core values?

  • I’m a hard worker, so I never give up no matter how hard the task. I also highly value accountability – if you say you’re going to be there or do something, then you better be there doing that thing you said you were. I strive to be a man of my word.

Who is your favorite NFL player?

  • I love Ray Lewis. He’s just brings this intensity every time he steps on the field. I love the way he reads plays – he’s such a smart player. I also love the way he lead his team – his teammates really respected him.

What sets you apart from your competition?

  • I am one of the fastest guys on the field and have really quick feet. I’m also a smart player and read plays really well, helping me find the gaps and stop plays behind the line.

Diamond In The Rough: Michael Phoenix II, WR, Conroe

Michael Phoenix II is the complete package. Standing at 6’1 and 170 pounds, he is a fast and athletic wide receiver with a real nose for the ball. Michael is quick on his feet, able to juke and run routes as well as any other receiver out there. His height and wing span make him a large target for the quarterback. Michael has strong hands and is willing to dive for any ball – just throw it up and he’ll be there to catch it. With his speed and size, Michael can outrun and out block any cornerback in the division. As a respected student athlete, Michael is a leader both on and off the field. He prioritizes school, but always finds time to work on his game – even at home when others would be resting. Michael is a hard worker and is always hungry to learn more about the game and has a desire to improve in any way possible.

When did you start playing football?

  • I’ve been playing football since I was 5 years old. I have three uncles who played college ball, so I’ve been involved and surrounded by football ever since I can remember. I really fell in love with football because of my uncles. There really just isn’t anything like football. I just love the atmosphere of the game and of the crowd.

What’s your style of play?

  • I play fast, I hit hard and I’m scrappy. I do my best to dominate the other team from the beginning till the end of the game by making big catches or cracking blocks.

How do you deal with adversity on and off the field?

  • Adversity always finds you on and off the field. My mentality is to always find the good in a situation and to do your best to overcome the bad. How you deal with those situations really determines who you are as a person.

Who is your favorite NFL player?

  • As a wide receiver I respect players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, but I’ve always loved Adrian Peterson. I just love the way he runs and his style of play. He’s just so dynamic. I also got to meet him once, so that left a lasting impact on me.

Who have influenced you most in your life?

  • My dad has really taught me the true meaning of being a man. He’s made a bunch of sacrifices for our family and has shown me how to be hard working and honorable in life and on the field.

How do you balance school and football?

  • I think that there is a place for school and a place for football. As soon as I get back from practice, I sit down and finish my homework. Once that is out of the way, I eat dinner and watch film. I think that to be a player at the next level you have to be dedicated to the sport even at home, so that’s what I try to do.

What do you think you have to improve to compete at the next level?

  • I think my speed and footwork are where I can improve. I mean, I think those are two areas that no matter what level you are, you can always improve there. I also think I need to work on little details, like running every route perfectly and hand positioning and stuff like that.

What sets you apart from the competition?

  • I work hard, and that isn’t a lie. Over the summer I worked out three times a day every day. I never missed a day this summer and that work ethic is what makes me different. It’s a eat or be eaten world and I’m a dog. A hungry dog who’s ready to eat.

How do people perceive you as a leader?

  • People have always told me that I’m really caring and have a big heart. I care about every little thing that comes up with my friends and teammates. People just trust me and come to me with their problems. I think that’s why they see me as a leader.

Diamond In The Rough: Ayann Tiam

When you attend a Clear Falls football game, your eyes will immediately land on Ayann. At 6’3 and 230 pounds, Ayann is a giant on the field. His large stature makes him easily one of the most physical linebackers in high school. He is an extremely versatile player, lining up and playing defensive end a lot of his senior season. Ayann size would suggest a slow player, but his speed is what sets him apart from other big men. He can often be seen chasing down running backs and tackling them from behind. Ayann’s size gives him the strength to blow up offensive linemen and create big plays for losses. With a 3.5 GPA, Ayann is a diligent student who enjoys school. You can learn more about Ayann below.

When did you start playing football?

  • I started playing football back in Little League. Football was the first sport I was attracted to when my family moved back to the states from France. I always loved the speed and physicality of the game, especially in the NFL. It was always really exciting to watch the players compete and it inspires me to do my best to this day.

Who is your favorite NFL player?

  • Khalil Mack is easily my favorite player. I’ve always loved his strength and physicality and how he leaves everything on the field. He wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school so that really inspires me to push myself even when I face adversity.

How would you describe your playing style?

  • I play a very aggressive game. I try to use my strength to overpower the other player every snap.

Who has influenced you most in life?

  • I would say my Dad. He’s taught me a lot of life principles, such as hard work and the value of academics.

How do you balance school and football?

  • I’ve always found school to be pretty easy, so I haven’t had any difficulties balancing academics and football. I have always been pretty good at school, especially in science classes. That’s why, when I go to college, I want to major in either premed or engineering. I really want to be a doctor one day.

Do you have any goals for the season?

  • Since this is my senior season, I just want to take it all in and enjoy it. I’m going to do my best every night and be the best football player I can be, but I’m not worrying about the numbers or awards. It would be a dream come true if we could go deep into the playoffs this year.

How do you lead your team?

  • As a senior, I have a lot of leadership roles. We have a lot of young players, so I try to share all the knowledge I’ve built up these last few years. I have a lot of experience and I try to help my teammates as much as I can. When something goes wrong on the field, I try to encourage the team to keep their heads up and continue with the game. I have that mentality of “It isn’t over, till it’s over” and I try to get my teammates in that same head space. 

What sets you apart from the competition?

  • I would say my motor. I never stop during a game and I never get tired. I’m also super dedicated off the field – I’m always gonna be the guy who works the hardest, be it in the weight room or in practice or in game. I also think my strength and physicality set me apart from everyone else.

DITR: Hunter Amburn

By Josh Kirkpatrick

At 6’4 and 255 lbs Hunter Amburn is a strong and physical tackle. Hunter goes out and plays his hardest every down – leaving everything on the field. He works hard to keep his QB safe and will pancake any linebacker who even thinks about blitzing. Hunter does an amazing job pass protecting and has quick feet when he needs to slide. His hand speed makes it easy for him to beat defenders off the ball and his strength allows him to win any 1 on 1 battle. Hunter has good eyes and a high IQ; he sees blitzes developing and stops rushers before they can get to the backfield. Hunter plays passionately every snap, but off the field is a gentle giant. His friends and teammates know him as someone they can rely on in any situation.

How did you fall in love with football?

  • I grew up watching football with my dad but didn’t get a chance to play until middle school, so I was really excited when my first practice came around. I fell in love at the first snap – it was just so much fun. 

What are some of your core values?

  • There are lots of great values that the people around me have taught me, but my motto has been: “Do better. Work harder. Don’t break.”

How do you describe your style of play?

  • I’ aggressive and push myself to dominate the other players. I like close games and I get pumped when I’m forced to step up and do my job. I’m big and aggressive and try to be a monster on the field. I like to play a physical game where the

Do you have any NFL players you model your game after?

  • Connor Williams, JJ Watt and Larry Allen. I just love the big guys who go out and play hard but are also good guys off the field.

How do you lead your team?

  • I generally lead by supporting the coaches and doing what they say. I’m not a big talker, so I try to lead by example. I always try to get out there and be the best player I can be and hope my teammates follow.

What are your goals for the season?

  • We really want the three-peat. It would be awesome to get one more ring before I graduate. I’ve always loved playing in Jerry’s World, getting to play where so many legends have played, and I’d love to go back and experience that one last time.

What do you need to do to get to the next level?

  • I think I can always be more aggressive. I try to hit as hard as I can no matter how tired I am. I think that if I bring that type of intensity and mentality, I’ll be able to easily transition to the next level.

Diamond In The Rough: Kirkland Michaux

By Josh Kirkpatrick

The average high school QB doesn’t stand 6’5 tall. The average high school QB doesn’t weigh 220 lbs. The average high school QB can’t drop 40-yard dimes to his receivers. Kirkland Michaux is not your average high school QB. Kirkland is an amazing pocket passer with a strong ability to scramble. His large frame makes it nearly impossible to bring him down. Though he likes to sit in the pocket, his awareness and speed make him a strong dual threat. He has a canon for an arm and can sling balls thirty yards downfield while on the run. He has good vision and will find any receiver that gets open. His football IQ is only matched by his academic achievements. Combine his athletic ability with his 3.6 GPA and Kirkland will stand head and shoulders above any other prospect.

When did you get involved in football?

  • My dad got me involved when I was really young, and I fell in love instantly. I just loved the physicality of tackle football and the big hits. I love the competition and the brotherhood that football brings. I enjoy how the team goes through a lot together and grows stronger together. Football is a lot of fun and I love the pressure to perform.

How do you deal with adversity on the field?

  • We lost a lot of guys to injuries last year, so I got put in the game and had to deal with a tough situation. But we all knew what we were supposed to do, and we all did our jobs. The experience just brought the whole team together.

How do you balance school and football?

  • I always get school done immediately so I can get to football, and I make time to watch tape every day.

What are some things that make you stand out?

  • My size and physicality make me stand out compared to any other QB. I think I’m the best pocket passer in the state, but I also like to run and am a solid dual threat.

Who has influenced you most in life?

  • My dad has definitely influenced me the most. He went through a lot in his life and taught me everything I know about life and football.

How do you lead?

  • I’m always trying to lead my team, on and off the field. I like to have fun but am serious when I need to be. I try to be a guy that my teammates can look up to.  I’m a vocal guy who practices what he preaches. I lead by example and listen to whatever my coaches tell me to do.

Diamond In The Rough: Kaedric Cobbs

By Josh Kirkpatrick

With a 5.0 GPA and an SAT score of 1360, I wondered to myself: “Why is this genius playing football?” But one look at his tape will show you just how talented Kaedric is. This top running back stands at 5’10, 215 lb, making Kaedric both speedy and tough. Kaedric flies down the field like a bullet fired from a gun and breaks through tackles like they’re made of tissue paper. His field vision is 20/20 and he shoots through the gap before anyone knows it’s there. Kaedric’s speed gets him around the corner and his acceleration is unmatched. He has a wicked stiff arm that will get him past any defender near him. Kaedric’s footspeed is amazing and his ability to cut back will break any defender’s ankles. Watch out football, here comes Kaedric Cobbs!

When and why did you fall in love with football?

  • I can’t say that there was ever an exact moment I fell in love with football. My dad is a coach, so I was surrounded by football my whole life.

Who has influenced you most in your life?

  • My parents have been the largest influence in my life. They’ve educated me and taught me to make wise decisions and have prepared me for success.

Do you have any core beliefs?

  • You just have to have faith in God’s plan for you. He’ll get you where you’re supposed to be, you just have to believe.

How have you balanced school and football?

  • I’ve always worked on time management in high school. I make sure to get my school work done one class at a time.

What do you need to work on to get to the next level?

  • There’s always stuff to work on. I think I could improve my route running and my speed – get my 40 time down to a 4.50. I just think: “Why settle for good?” I always try to be perfect.

Do you have an NFL player that you model your game after?

  • I’ve always loved Adrian Peterson. As an Oklahoma fan, I watched him growing up and cheered for the Vikings when they drafted him. He just always runs hard and is so physical. I try to imitate his mentality night in and night out.

Who are you in game?

  • I always want to make teammates better and I try to lead by example. In between the whistles I’m a physical and vicious player. I don’t talk a lot of smack – I like to let my playing speak for me. In the huddle, I like to talk my team up and encourage them or get them hyped for the next play. I’m a physical player and I try to bring it all night, every play. The real question is: “Are you willing to do the same?”

Diamond in The Rough: Grant Mahon

by Josh Kirkpatrick

Grant is an absolute monster on the field. At 6’4 and 270 lbs, Grant tears through an offensive line like it’s swiss cheese. He’s big, physical and explosive – flying out of his stance as soon as the ball moves. Grant’s ability to sniff out the ball on trick plays is unparalleled by his peers and his ability to contain is just as impressive as his ability to blitz. Grant’s size and strength make it easy for him to get off blocks and penetrate into the backfield. Grant is a smart player with a high football IQ who will destroy any player set before him. Off the field, Grant is a diligent student with a 3.3 GPA. He works hard on his school work and always gets the job done so he can focus on football. 

When did you get involved with football?

  • I’ve been playing since the 5th grade. I was never forced to play; I just loved the sport. My brothers and Dad all played, so I’ve been exposed to football my whole life and got a lot of football experience at a young age.

Who has influenced you most in your life?

  • My parents. They’ve always been there to support me throughout every step of my life. They’re always gonna be in my corner, no matter the situation. I’m also really close with my brothers. They’ve walked through all of the same stuff I have, so they’re always giving me good advice and are amazing supporters.

What are some of your core values?

  • Life isn’t about me. I’ve always been taught to be selfless and put others before myself. I try to use football as a platform to help, influence and transform those around me; be it a little kid watching or a teammate.

How do you lead your team?

  • I’m not a very outspoken leader who tries to hype the team up. I do most of my leading in a 1 on 1 situation where I can really speak into my teammate’s life and talk about real life struggles.

How have you balanced school and football?

  • I’ve never really struggled with school because our teachers and coaches really support us academically. They always give us time to do homework before practice, so we don’t have to worry about school during or after practice. If you actually prepare or study during that time, you’ll be alright.

Who are you on the field?

  • I’m not a talker, but I play passionately. I hate losing, but I don’t ever do anything disrespectful or cheap. I play a clean game, but if you take a cheap shot on one of my teammates, I will protect them.

What makes you stand out?

  • My size and strength. I’ve been blessed to have a great strengths and conditioning coach, so I’m really strong. I’m also fast, I’m always where I need to be on the field. I do my job and I’m not gonna shy away from a big hit. I’m not focused on doing my job, but on getting the job done.

How do you deal with adversity on the field?

  • In a close game or a tough situation, I always tell the team that it isn’t about one person, or one mistake and we can’t fix the game with one play. We need to step up and play our best. We never point fingers; we’ve got each other’s backs and we stay united.

Do you have any goals for the season?

  • A State Title is always the goal. But personally, I just try to be the best player I can be. I pay attention to the details and work on my technique. If I do that, the stats will follow. I just have to do everything I can do to help my team win.

Diamond in the Rough: Dylan Mehrotra

Dylan Mehrotra is a class of 2021 quarterback from Episcopal High School in Baton Rouge, LA. Mehrotra stands at 6’2 185 lbs with a 40 yard time of 4.7. In his 2019 campaign, Dylan led his team to a 9-3 record, throwing 82 of 132 for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns. On the ground, Mehrotra rushed for 228 yards on 37 carries for 3 touchdowns. Equally dangerous as a passer and runner, Mehrotra has a big arm with the capabilities of torching defenses with the deep ball while also having the ability to escape the pocket and pick up big plays on the ground. Mehrotra is excellent in the pocket, but what is possibly more impressive is his ability to accurately deliver the ball on the run. Along with his excellent deep ball accuracy, Mehrotra can effectively deliver on short and intermediate routes as well, making him an overall headache for opposing defenses. With an exceptional football IQ, Dylan also excels in the classroom, posting an overall GPA of a 3.4. 

At what age did you begin playing football and what initially interested you about the sport?

 I began playing tackle football in third grade for All Star at Parkview. What interested me at first was being able to hit people and the thrill of hearing people cheering you on as you run for a touchdown.

What did football teach you about yourself or life once you began playing?

Football gave me something to be passionate about. It taught me the importance of hard work. If you work hard you can accomplish anything you want.

Who or what has been your biggest motivation or role model in the sport?

I would say my dad.  When I was little I told him I wanted to be a Quarterback and he’s done everything he can to help me live my dreams.

Do you have a favorite memory from your playing career?

Probably my game against capitol this past season. It was awesome to go 7/7 with 4 TDs in one half. Also being named a WBRZ player of the week finalist because of that game.

Are you involved in any other sports or activities at school besides football? If so, how do you believe those experiences have helped you on the football field?

Yes, I do Track and Field for Episcopal.  Track has definitely helped me with football in becoming a better athlete but also a better person and leader. Coach Dupe is the best Track/Cross Country coach in the world and always preaches that we are good people no matter what we are doing.

As a quarterback, what is it like being in that leadership position? What is the most rewarding aspect and what is the most challenging?

 I love playing the Quarterback position because you get total control of the offense and get to dictate where the ball goes on most plays. The most rewarding aspect is seeing the joy on my teammates faces when they catch a touchdown pass. I love seeing my teammates succeed and getting them involved.

Do you have a favorite athlete, college or NFL, that you look up to?

An athlete, I look up to most is Lebron James. He is an amazing athlete and is a great person off the court.

 What current player, college or NFL, do you believe your playstyle reflects most? 

I would say Deshaun Watson. We both have very strong arms and have the ability and speed to make you miss in the open field.

Outside of sports, do you have any hobbies or passions you pursue in your free time? What about them do you enjoy most?

 I love spending time with my family and friends. I love getting time on weekends to help them around the house and eating together as a family. 

For the 2020 season, what are some personal goals that you look forward to accomplish? Has your team set a specific set of goals for the upcoming season as well?

This coming season is very important to me and my teammates and it’s also my last year of highschool football. Our goal is to win a state championship and I think we have the pieces to do so. 

What do you believe separates you from other high school quarterbacks in the state of Louisiana? What makes you unique to your position?

 What separates me is my high football IQ, my strong arm, my accuracy, and my quickness. But most importantly I am a good leader. 

What advice would you give to younger football players who hope to one day play high school football?

 I would tell them to work hard in the weightroom and on the field. Also they need to work hard in the film room. Studying film on your opponent and yourself can definitely give you the upper hand when Friday night comes. You only get 4 years of highschool football, so you should make the most of it.

Finally, what do you believe to be the most rewarding part about playing the sport and being a part of a team?

 The brotherhood of a football team is like no other sport. The relationships I have made with my teammates and even opposing players have been memorable. The tough practices, bus rides, wins and losses are definitely the main things I will miss after this coming season.

LSU’S JACOBY STEVENS TAKES PART IN STRONG MEN ACADEMY AT GLASGOW MIDDLE

BATON ROUGE – Jacoby Stevens used his platform as a member of LSU’s national championship football team to positively influence eighth graders at Glasgow Middle School as the junior safety took part in the Strong Men Academy on Tuesday morning.

Strong Men is a curriculum designed to build character and leadership skills in at-risk young men.

“This organization is designed to build character and have these kids see the value in doing the right thing, being good a good person and aspire to achieve greatness,” program coordinator and Glasgow assistant principal Andy Chapman said. “It means a great deal to our kids to see someone like Jacoby come in and share his story. These kids can relate to Jacoby and for him to emphasize to our kids that if you work hard, do the right thing, and follow your dreams, anything is possible.”

Stevens, who started all 15 games for the national champion Tigers in 2019, spent an hour with the group of middle schoolers, sharing stories from his childhood as well as telling the group about LSU’s championship season.

“Our team was focused on being the best team we could be,” Stevens said. “We didn’t have players worrying about individual honors or achievements, but instead we were all focused on playing our best each week and doing all that we could to be champions. It wasn’t about one person, but it was about everyone on our team doing their part to help us achieve something special.”

Stevens also shared with the group the reason he returned to LSU for his senior season.

“I want to leave a legacy,” Stevens said. “For me, it’s much bigger than football. I want to be a great football player, but I also want to help and inspire others, get my degree and be a difference maker on and off the field. That’s the legacy I want to leave.”

-Michael Bonnette

LSU ADDS HOME-AND-HOME WITH UTAH TO FUTURE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

BATON ROUGE – LSU has added two more games with a Power 5 conference school to its future football schedule as the Tigers will face Utah in a home-and-home series in 2031 and 2032, the school’s announced on Monday.

LSU and Utah will play on Sept. 6, 2031 in Salt Lake City and the teams will meet the following year in Tiger Stadium on Sept. 11, 2032.

LSU and Utah, members of the Pac-12 Conference, have met only twice in football with the Tigers holding a 2-0 advantage in the series. It will be the first meeting between the teams since 1976 when LSU won, 35-7, in Tiger Stadium. LSU also posted a 35-10 win over the Utes in 1974.

With the addition of Utah to the future LSU football schedule, the Tigers are now scheduled to play at least one non-conference regular season game against a Power 5 conference team for the next 13 years.

The following is a look at LSU’s non-conference regular season games against Power 5 teams through the 2032 season:

2020       Texas (Tiger Stadium)

2021       at UCLA (Pasadena Calif. – Rose Bowl)

2022       vs. Florida State (New Orleans – Mercedes-Benz Superdome)

2023       vs. Florida State (Orlando, Fla. – Camping World Stadium) 

2024       UCLA (Tiger Stadium)

2025       at Clemson (Clemson, S.C. – Clemson Memorial Stadium)

2026       Clemson (Tiger Stadium)

2027       at Oklahoma (Norman, Okla. – Memorial Stadium)

2028       Oklahoma (Tiger Stadium)

2029       Arizona State (Tiger Stadium)

2030       at Arizona State (Tempe, Ariz. – Sun Devil Stadium)

2031       at Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah – Rice-Eccles Stadium)

2032       Utah (Tiger Stadium)

-Michael Bonnette

HALL OF FAMER MARCUS ALLEN TO HEADLINE LSU FOOTBALL COACHING CLINIC

BATON ROUGE – Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen will serve as the headline speaker at this year’s LSU Football Coaching Clinic which will be held on March 12-13 on the LSU campus.

The LSU Football Coaching Clinic will take place in the South Stadium Club at Tiger Stadium. Registration for the clinic can be done online at www.LSUsports.net/coachesclinic. The fee for the clinic is $70, which includes a barbeque social on Thursday night followed by a crawfish boil on Friday evening. Breakfast and lunch will also be served on Friday.

Allen, who is one of the most decorated players in football history, was named to the Pro Bowl six times during his NFL career. He was MVP of the NFL in 1985 after leading the league in rushing that year.

Allen was named MVP of Super Bowl XVII after rushing for 191 yards and scoring two TDs in the Raiders’ 38-9 win over the Washington Redskins. Allen retired from the NFL following the 1997 season after he amassed 12,243 rushing yards and 74 touchdowns.

Allen, who rushed for over 4,600 yards during his four years at Southern Cal, was named the winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1981 after he rushed for 2,342 yards and 22 touchdowns for the Trojans.

Other highlights of the clinic include presentations from College Football Hall of Fame coach John Robinson, who is currently the on the LSU coaching staff as senior consultation to head coach Ed Orgeron, along with LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini.

The LSU Football Coaches Clinic will give participants an opportunity to see the Tigers practice on Thursday, March 12 and then watch LSU scrimmage on Saturday, March 14. 

For more information about this year’s event, call the LSU Football Office at 225.578.1151 or visit www.LSUsports.net/coachesclinic.

-Michael Bonnette

Diamond in the Rough – Roman Mula

Roman Mula is a quarterback out of Parkview Baptist High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Standing at 6’1” and 180 lbs, Roman brings a competitive energy out onto the field on Friday nights during football season. Roman has an impressive 40 yard dash time of 4.6 seconds. Mula has quick reflexes, and all of this stands out whenever he plays. This junior quarterback possesses the ability to be one of the leaders for his team. As an upcoming senior, Roman can adapt to his surroundings and any changes that come his way, whether that be on or off the field. 

What age did you start playing football? When you were playing little league, what attracted you to pursue football more seriously?         

I played little league in first and second grade and got serious into football after that. The toughness and physicality of the game and everything – just competing and all of that surrounding the game. 

Now is that the reason you stayed with football or has that reason changed? 

I’d say that’s the main reason and recently just hoping to play college football as well. 

You mention that you’re competitive. Do you consider yourself to be the most competitive player on your team right now, or is there somebody else who’s more competitive?  

I say that I’m one of the tops few like me and a couple of the seniors that are serious about this. 

I actually wanted to get into talking about the team. So, thank you for mentioning that. What are you looking forward to this upcoming season? You’re going to be a senior and you’re a quarterback and quarterbacks pretty much lead their team each game, right? 

Yeah, right. I’m just looking forward to taking advantage of every snap, every play because I know that it’s going to by fast and just trying to make the memories with my team and hopefully win some football games.

Have you all sat down to talk about goals as a team or will that be later on this year? 

We’ve been working out right now and we’ve talked about it a little bit – the seniors and me. Obviously, it’s doing the best we can and hopefully go to the championship, but really, just set the mentality for the younger kids and be leaders for the team.

Yeah, I get that. Do you help out a lot in your community with the kids? What do you do, can you give me some examples? 

Yeah, I do. For the football kids? 

Sure, or anything really. 

We just help the freshman out, get them use to the team and the high school level of playing football and everything that comes with that because it can be hard at times.

I totally understand. Do you have any advice to give to the freshmen and middle schoolers wanting to play football? 

Yeah, I just say you know it can get tough sometimes, but keep with it, you know? It gets tough for everybody at one point and everybody was in those shoes at one point in time. So just stick it out, it will be worth it in the end. 

Absolutely and look at you now: you’re going into your senior year, you’re a quarterback, and now looking at colleges. Speaking of universities, what would be your dream college you would love to play for, or just be a student at in general? 

I mean I’d say growing up as a kid, it would have to be LSU. As far as sports go, I don’t know how that is going to go, but really just whatever comes around for football. 

What about college major? Have you started looking around at that? 

I think I either want to go into business or management. I don’t know yet. 

What do you love the most about the game? 

I’d say just competing. It’s a tough man sport and the better team is going to win. I just say it’s really a competition the whole time. I guess that’s what draws me to the game the most – the competing. 

Is that the mindset you get into on gamedays – the competitiveness? 

Yeah, just focus in and there’s a job that needs to be done and so, you got to do that. 

Tell me, Roman, how did Parkview do last season? 

It wasn’t rough, but it wasn’t the best. It the first year with a new coach, new offense. I mean it was the first time for me that I’ve ever taken the snap out of the shotgun in my whole life, as far as like putting me in the game. There was some adjustments we had to make, but this year we should get it clicking. 

What was the experience like transitioning from one coach to whole new coach? 

It wasn’t as different as I thought it would be. Coach LeFors and Coach Mayet have the same mindset – they’ve been there and done that, work hard and carry it over onto the field. As far as the playbook and offensive scheme, yeah that was really different. The mentality of the program didn’t change much. 

That’s good. I’m glad you adjusted well to the whole new experience and the new ropes. I’m happy for you. Just a few more questions, who is your favorite college or NFL player? Why? 

For NFL player, I would have to say it has to be Drew Brees or Tom Brady because they competed at such a high level and you know what you’re going to get out of them every single time they play. It’s always the best and the elitist level of football you can get.

So, say you can switch lives with one of these players for a day. Would you switch lives with Drew Brees, Tom Brady, or another player? 

Oh, I don’t know. That’s a tough one. I’d probably say Tom Brady since he has won a lot of super bowls. 

It makes sense, I get it – having all of these super bowl rings. Last question to wrap it up: looking at life outside of football, what would you personally like to achieve? 

Overall, have a good life and relying on God – seeing whatever his plans are and carrying those out.