You might not be familiar with Derrick Raymond, but that's only because he has traveled down a different path than most high school football recruits.
He began his ninth grade year playing on Friday nights at Lee High in Baton Rouge. From there, Raymond was taken on a whirlwind tour before finding a home again - and he hasn't played a snap since.
In the summer of 2009, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board voted 9-1 to close Lee High immediately rather than let students stay another year.
Raymond ended up across the river at Port Allen High, where he spent time learning as a defensive back under head coach Guy Blanchard.
But because he transferred, Raymond was forced to sit out his entire sophomore season.
Then Raymond’s family moved once again, this time to the New Orleans area. He enrolled at East Jefferson in Metairie, but once more was held back because of the transfer rule. While the Warriors marched to a 7-4 finish in Class 4A, Raymond could only cheer from the sidelines.
“Those Friday nights over the past couple of years have been tough,” Raymond said. “Not playing since freshmen year is crazy for a football player, but I never gave up on working on my game. I made it to every practice and every work out, and I have also stayed on top of my work in the classroom. I am trying to make sure that when I do get out there this year I am one of the best.”
Raymond’s dedication both on the practice field and in the classroom has college coaches flying into New Orleans to ask East Jefferson head coach Nick Saltaformaggio more about his top prospect.
“Arizona had a coach come out and was blown away after just seeing him for a little bit,” Saltaformaggio said. “The first thing he asked from there was for his transcript, and when I showed him that (Raymond) was on track with his GPA, he offered a scholarship on the spot.
“The amount of coaches that have come through here is amazing. He’s a popular prospect right now, and it is well-deserved. I think he’s going to play on Sundays.”
LSU defensive backs coach Ron Cooper was at East Jefferson’s practice on Monday and delivered the news that the Tigers were interested and wanted to bring the junior into camp over the summer. If the evaluation checked out, Raymond would land an offer.
“Seeing (Cooper) come by was good, because LSU is one offer I am really waiting on,” Raymond said. “I would say LSU and Nebraska are my two lead teams.
“The Arizona offer stands out because it is recent. North Texas and Baylor have also offered. That’s just some of them. My coach tells me there are others, and with the coaches calling I am thinking that there are even more to come.”
Raymond, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound free safety for the Warriors, projects as a cornerback at the college level. He has long arms and great speed, and his ability to flip his hips and change direction stands out right away. Yet if coaches haven’t caught Raymond in person, they are forced to rely heavily on word of mouth evaluations.
“I have no game film, and the only camp or combine I have ever been to was the Under Armour one in New Orleans last month,” he said. “I felt like I did pretty well. I could have done better, but given it was my first camp ever, I was proud. I went as an athlete but worked mostly with the defensive backs, and I held down some really good receivers.”
With Alabama signee and South Plaquemines track star Bradley Sylve competing in a Texas meet in early April, Raymond seized the moment and captured the 100- (11.06) and 200-meter (22.28) titles at the Mike Conlin Memorial Track and Field Meet, making him the fastest man in metro New Orleans.
At the state meet on LSU’s campus earlier this month, Raymond showed off his athleticism once more, this time posting better marks in both the 100- (10.52) and the 200- meter (21.50) races.
“East Jefferson takes pride in track, so getting two state titles, for those events, meant a lot to me,” Raymond said. “My time could have even been better in the 200, but I started to cramp. I had to run half that race on my heels.”
As for his recruitment, Raymond plans to be in Baton Rouge later this month for the Bayou Picnic as well as in the summer months for camp.
“Right now those are my only planned visits,” he said. “I am supposed to be also doing some 7-on-7 stuff with the team, but I’m not sure where we are traveling yet.”