There's a lot to report from yesterday's practice session at Curtis.
First, '14 WR Malachi Dupre continues to impress. Dupre has been mentioned repeatedly by his coaches and teammates as an exceptional athlete, and he flashed some brilliance yesterday. Dupre made a couple of long down-field catches that had jaws dropping among the smattering of spectators. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder hauled in a 50-yard bomb along the right sideline and didn't break stride while remaining in-bounds by mere inches. He also hauled in another reception for a lengthy gain vs. double coverage. Look for a stand-alone feature on Dupre in the next couple of days. He did drop a pass on a slant across the middle, proving that the sophomore is, indeed, human.
Brandon Porter would be a 1,000-yard rusher for almost every team in the state, but with Curtis having "The Four Horsemen" ('13 RBs Sherman Badie and Tevin Horton, and '14 RBs Raekwon James and George Moreira) already vying for touches in the offensive backfield, Porter plies his trade most of the time on defense. He has an ideal build for a RB at just under 6-0 and 200 pounds, but the junior can play defense in college if that's where he's needed. Porter was extraordinarily quick out of his breaks yesterday. He had a nifty interception that probably would have gone for a pick-six in a real game.
"I'm going to camp at North Texas on June 9th," said Porter, who is looking for his first offer. "Coach (Justin) Gaines said they'll offer if I do good at the camp. I'm also hearing from Colorado, ULM and UL (Ragin' Cajuns)."
Porter is thicker than any of the other Curtis defensive backs, but he moves just as well as any of the other prospects in the deep secondary unit. He also hopes to turn heads this summer at a joint TCU/Northwestern State camp that will be held on the Curtis campus.
LB Duke Riley is the only Patriot that is currently ranked by Fox Sports/Scout.com, and the three-star was watched closely by coaches from Indiana and Houston yesterday. The Cougars have already offered Riley, who is a model of intensity during practice. Coach (Tim) Rebowe from UL also appeared to keep an eye on Riley.
Riley was light on his feet with his drops in coverage, which was good to see, considering that he'll move from the inside to outside in college (in all likelihood). He recently visited Mississippi State and is nearing double-digit offers.
Rebowe has been in contact with several Patriots, including offensive lineman Brandon Godfrey, and the Cajuns' recruiter spent a good chunk of time checking out Godfrey and fellow offensive lineman Anthony Taylor.
Porter, Taylor and Horton (pictured below) all seem overdue to get their first offer. Taylor is a man-mountain in the 6-7, 335-pound range, and he's not stiff. Back in March, Taylor mentioned Indiana as a favorite, along with Kentucky, Nebraska and Purdue.
Horton is a bullish runner in the 5-9, 190-pound range who was second on the team in rushing last year behind only Badie. On one particularly-impressive carry yesterday, Horton punished two or three defenders as he barreled along the left sideline. In early January, he was a hit among the Fox Sports/Scout.com Recruiting Team at the U.S. Army Junior Combine in San Antonio. At that event, Horton joined David Yancey (Indiana product) and Jowan Davis (Sealy, Tx.) as the only three first-team All-Combine RBs.
'14 LB Kenny Young was sidelined for the last couple of playoff games in 2011 after suffering an injury versus Ville Platte. He'll be cleared for full contact when fall camp gets underway. Yesterday, Young ran a few brisk intervals by himself during practice, and he is a chiseled guy who looks like an ideal, versatile LB capable of playing inside or outside. Young is a year behind Duke Riley, but he seems to be slightly larger than Riley, who is somewhat of a mentor to the sophomore.
The Curtis coaching staff had some frustrating news for opponents. It's clear the Patriots are loaded for at least the next two years, but things look rosy down the road, as well, because multiple references were made about the vast potential of the current crop of eighth-graders at the school.
Dupre and another '14 WR with nice size -- Henry Smith (6-1, 170) -- should get the secondary well-prepared for Byrnes' pass-happy attack. '13 CB Jacolby Cooper won state in the 400-meter dash recently, and he's joined by '13 CB/S Richard Allen, '14 CB Prine Lewis, '14 S/CB Mattrell McGraw, '14 CB Terrence Alexander, '15 S Hunter Dale (pictured below) and Porter.
All of the Curtis DBs were quick and explosive during backpedal drills. McGraw's teammates frequently speak highly of him, and he was fluid with his movements yesterday. Although only a freshman, Dale is possibly the tallest member of the unit. He demonstrated the ability to consistently turn and run with receivers in one-on-one coverage, and if Dale can hold down the free safety spot, it would allow Allen to stay at corner.
Allen manned the free safety spot in the state title game versus Winnfield and came up with a crucial first-half interception of Nebraska signee Alonzo Moore in the end zone. While Dale's coverage skills are legit, he'll have to prove himself in run support.
The Patriots have two quarterbacks with starting experience: '13 prospect Patrick Morton and '15 signal-caller Abby Touzet. Both will get reps with the first team this fall, although Morton is the current starter.
Prior to a season-ending injury in 2011, Morton was neck-and-neck with Badie and Horton for the team lead in rushing. He toted the rock for 367 yards on only 37 attempts, an average of just under 10 yards per carry.
Morton (5-10 1/2, 190 lbs.) is healthy now and it's easy to see how he achieved so such success churning out the rushing yards. He's built like a strong safety or even a fullback with his huge traps. When Morton was forced to the sidelines last year, Touzet (6-1, 210) stepped in as a frosh and the team didn't miss much of a beat, if any. He ran for 11 touchdowns and threw for almost 800 yards.
Sophomore RBs Raekwon James and George Moreira, briefly mentioned above, will play college ball, and the duo will probably do it at a high level if they continue to progress as expected. James (5-9, 175) had nice cuts in the open field yesterday. He has above-average vision and has proven himself as an effective receiver out of the backfield (especially dangerous on screens).
Moreira (pictured below) won the RB MVP at the National Underclassmen Combine 5-Star Showcase earlier this year at Zachary High School. He's heavier than James at 5-9 and almost 195 pounds, but Moreira may be faster than his classmate. At the outdoor state track meet earlier this month, Moreira placed sixth in the 300-meter hurdles.
James isn't a track and field sprinter, but he was a starting guard on Curtis' state championship basketball team and his lateral quickness on the hardwood was something to see.
Curtis went 14-0 on the gridiron in '11. The Patriots broke open a close game at the half to cruise past Winnfield in the state finals, 33-3.