Rasco has high expectations

Jermauria Rasco is already a household name on the recruiting trail and he hasn't even begun his junior year of high school. With offers from LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M and UCLA already in hand, the next two years are sure to be filled with plenty of excitement for the Louisiana product.

It didn’t take long for Jermauria Rasco’s mother to notice that he had a passion for football.


At 4 years old, Rasco was all set to play organized football for the first time, but there was one big problem.


“At 4 years old he was supposed to play flag football, but he didn’t want to do that,” said Rasco’s mother Gwen. “He wanted to play tackle football, so since he was bigger than everyone else I let him play 7-year-old tackle football.”


Rasco, who started at center in his first year of Pee Wee football and also earned the league championship, had always been bigger than the majority of his teammates, as well as his competition.


As a result, Gwen had heard plenty of times that her son was going to be special on the football field. He would always rack up on individual honors each year, but mom would just look at it as her son loved to play the game, and as long as he was happy she was happy.


Rasco’s eighth-grade year arrived and the then 13-year-old had earned a starting spot on Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian Academy’s varsity football squad. For a program that has won 11 state championships in 20 years, earning a starting spot for an eighth grader was rare, to say the least.


Rasco made a big splash in his first year of varsity football and an even bigger one during his freshman season, when he registered 109 tackles and seven sacks and recovered four fumbles. The 6-foot-4, 241-pounder followed that up with another sensational season during his sophomore year as he logged 149 tackles and recovered four fumbles.


The 149 tackles alone was quite an impressive number, but the 26 sacks that Rasco collected is believed to have tied the national high school record for sacks in a season that was set by Reggie White.


Once again, Gwen listened to the rave reviews. But for the first time, it finally hit her.


“In the eighth grade year one of the coaches told me he was going to be something one day and I thought that was just something they said,” Gwen said. “I looked at it as my baby just loves football.


“Then I got a call from a news reporter that was calling about the sack record last year. Then when he got the call from Reggie White’s wife it hit me that there was something special with Jermauria.”

Jermauria Rasco will break plenty of records before he leaves Evangel

Evangel defensive coordinator Byron Dawson knew that there was something unique about Rasco that you don’t normally see in 13-year-olds when he worked closely with him in 2005.


“One of the most positive things I got from Jermauria at a young age was that he hadn’t created any bad habits yet,” Dawson explained. “We were able to take a kid and mold him into what he should be and to Jermauria’s credit he took to all of the coaching from the get go.”


Dawson knew that with Rasco’s quick rise there would be plenty of attention tossed his way.


After all, Dawson was a highly decorated defensive tackle at Evangel and he remembered the type of attention that he was showered with when he signed with LSU under Gerry Dinardo in 1997 and finished under Nick Saban in 2002.


Dawson and Rasco have grown very close over the years and Gwen describes the impact that coach has made on pupil as one that she will always be grateful for.


“[Dawson] has always been there for Jermauria,” stated Gwen, who has three other children, ages 20, 15 and 5. “He has helped us with so much, and he’s more like a big brother than just a coach.”


Rasco echoes his mother’s sentiments when it comes to Dawson and how he has touched him on and off the field.


“He doesn’t let you just get by. He’s all about hard work,” Rasco said of Dawson. “He always tells me that there are a bunch of athletes out there that have the same talent that I have, but everyday that I work out more and harder it will separate me from the rest.


“Aside from football, he and I are just real close,” added Rasco. “If I want to get out of the house I can call him and we will just chill together. Even when school is in, we practice at 6:30 in the morning then we have school then I’ll usually be with him until about 8 o’clock at night. We’re just real close.”


The guidance from Dawson has even extended to the recruiting trail, where Rasco is already being billed as one of the best prospects in America for 2011.


If you’re looking for something to back that assessment up then look no further than the four verbal scholarship offers that Rasco has already landed: LSU, Texas A&M, Alabama and UCLA.


Rasco, who is also being heavily courted by Texas and has family in the Houston area, has already taken one unofficial visit this summer to LSU. He’s considering his third trip to LSU in the past year in July for Les Miles’ Football camp and is also considering a possible trip to Austin to visit with Mack Brown and Co. once more.


It’s actually those two schools that have made the biggest impression in the infinite stages of the recruiting process.


“Those two kind of stick out for me right now, and the main reason is they are showing the most interest in me,” Rasco said. “It also has to do with me getting to know Coach Miles and Coach Brown. I’ve talked to both of them a few times and the relationship I have with those two is real good right now. Both of those coaches always ask about my family and grades and rarely talk about football. That shows me they care about me outside of football.


“I’m not even thinking about recruiting, but those two are in the same boat right now and I like what I see and hear from both schools. They’re both great schools and they both have great coaching staffs.”

Coaches will be lining up for Rasco

Gwen urges her son to stay focused on his academics – Jermauria has a 3.0 grade point average – and to just enjoy the place he is in right now. She knows that her son is going to have opportunities that she never envisioned, which really began to sink in when they made their unofficial visits to LSU and Texas.


“Just meeting Les Miles, I said ‘oh my God.’ I’ve seen this man on television and to sit there in his office and have him say ‘Now Gwen’; I was just like oh my gosh,” explained Gwen. “I see this man on television all the time. Meeting Les Miles was like meeting the Beatles of the football world. Then for my baby to meet Mack Brown when we went there for the spring game; I just asked myself is this real.”


On her most recent visit to LSU, Gwen sat down and had some one on one time with LSU’s headman and that gave the two a chance to talk about something that is dear to all parties involved – academics.


“I had a long talk with Coach Miles and he was stressing grades,” Gwen said. “He had talked about how he’s taken athletes off the practice field and sent them to study hall.


“I told Coach Miles he would never have to take Jermauria off the practice field because he took his own self off the football team at Evangel when he was in eighth grade because his GPA had dropped. Mind you it only fell from a 3.5 to a 3.4, but he told his coach he had to focus on his grades. His coach called me and said he wasn’t failing and I said I knew, but that was his decision. That shows Jermauria’s dedication and focus to school and also shows how seriously Coach Miles takes his players’ studies.”


Rasco’s dedication to grades is something that Gwen instilled in him and each of his three siblings at an early age. It’s also helped develop a motto that the family lives by.


“Average athletes go nowhere,” stated Gwen. “He’s a student first and anyone who isn’t a good student but is a good athlete is just average.”


Being average on the field or in the classroom was never in Rasco’s plans. You can go back to his first year of playing football and even his days of pre-school for evidence.


“I remember when he was 4 years old and in pre-school he made a “C+” on a picture he drew,” recalled Gwen. “He cried like a baby because he thought it was a bad grade. A “C+” to Jermauria then was a failing grade and even to this day he’s always had high expectations with everything.”


Those high expectations will also exist when it comes time for Rasco to choose a school.


One thing that Gwen says they will be looking at is the relationship her son has with the coaches who are recruiting him. She already feels good about the bond he is building with Miles and LSU wide receivers coach D.J. McCarthy, who is the area recruiter for Shreveport.


“I am a pretty good judge of character when it comes to meeting people,” Gwen said. “Mr. Miles strikes me as a family-oriented guy and he showed me that he cares for the players and that’s what I liked. I don’t want anyone to sell Jermauria on something then when he gets there he sees that it’s something totally different. We like straight shooters, and that’s what you get with Coach Miles.”


Rasco’s take on Miles and McCarthy seems to fall in line with his mother’s.


“The vibe I got from Coach McCarthy the first time I met him was that he was like a Coach Dawson-type,” explained Rasco. “I feel like he can be like a big brother to me and he’s going to be like Coach Dawson where he watches out for me and that kind of stuff.


“When I first met Coach Miles I was just honored. I’ve talked to him a few times in person and on the phone and he seems like he’s so involved with his family and his football team. That’s big because family is important to me.”


Rasco will have another opportunity to talk with Miles and McCarthy in person if he makes it to the July camp as planned, which will also mark the end of a busy summer.


While this will likely be his last visit to LSU until football season rolls around, it will not be the last time the sophomore expects to talk to Miles and McCarthy anytime soon.


“I just want to keep talking to them and getting to know them even more,” Rasco said. “When I went up there a couple of weeks ago they pretty much told me everything about how things are and answered just about every question I had. I feel like I’m already real, real close to the LSU coaches and our relationship is only going to get stronger.”

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