Anyone familiar with high school football in North Louisiana will tell you that Rayville head coach Bo Barton has sent his fair share of players to the college and professional levels over the years.
Recently, Barton has sent Kenny Bell (Alabama), Chris Tolliver (LSU) and Richard Murphy (LSU) to the SEC, and two of his former players are currently in the NFL in Edgar Jones (Baltimore) and Jonathan Wilhite (New England).
College coaches trust Rayville's headman when he says that he has a kid that can play at the BCS level and Barton has a pair of prospects for 2011 that coaches are hot on in Quenton Griffin and Gerrand Johnson.
Griffin, a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder with 4.8 speed, played defensive end and tight end for the Hornets last season and put up some good numbers. Defensively, he was in on 61 tackles and four sacks, and also recovered a pair of fumbles and intercepted a pass. On the other side of the ball, Griffin grabbed nine passes for 211 yards with two touchdowns.
With Rayville being a familiar stopping point for college coaches all over the country, it’s not surprising that Griffin and Johnson have been getting attention from coast to coast including the likes of LSU, Alabama, Nebraska, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Florida, to name a few.
Though both are still waiting on their first scholarship offer the wait may come to an end when they attend Alabama’s Junior Day this weekend.
“Bo Davis (Alabama defensive line coach) came by here before signing day and we watched some tape and he said ‘coach we’re going to offer Quenton’,” Barton said. “Until Nick Saban says that, though, it’s not official in my book. Some think that may be an offer but to me it’s not right now.”
Barton says that Alabama’s interest in Griffin is as a tight end and if he had the luxury of being able to play him on only one side of the ball Barton says he would line him up strictly on offense.
“He has great hands and great feet but people don’t see a lot of Quenton because we only have about 12 plays that use a tight end and we don’t have a lot of drills in practice because we use it so seldom,” said Barton. “But he has great hands and great feet. He dominates as a blocker and runs real well. He’s physical and there’s a lot more to like too.”
The lot more to like is in reference to the work ethic that Griffin possesses along with his attitude.
“I wouldn’t say that he couldn’t play linebacker or defensive end because I think he could,” explained Barton. “You take that kid and put him anywhere on your team whether it be tight end, defensive end or linebacker and he will be one of the best players you have.
“He is very coachable and has a tremendous work ethic. He has a body that is long and lean but muscular. He could stay at 235 (pounds) or easily get up to 270. The thing with Quenton is you get him on campus and figure out where to put him because he’s such a good football player.”
Johnson has many of those same attributes according to Barton.
At 6-feet, 270 pounds, Johnson was a first team all-state selection last season after recording 91 tackles and seven sacks from his defensive tackle spot.
His list of suitors is very similar to Griffin’s and offers could be sent Johnson’s way very soon according to Barton.
“Most coaches don’t offer over the phone anymore but I expect his offer status to change pretty quickly,” Barton said. “Alabama, LSU and Nebraska have all expressed a huge interest and I expect an offer from all three pretty quickly.”
Louisiana has a plethora of talented defensive tackles for the 2011 class and Barton feels that Johnson is as good as any of the others.
“The thing with him (Johnson) is that he will be a 290-300 (pound) kid easily,” stated the headman. “He’s a young junior (16 years old) and his upper body just hasn’t caught up with the rest of him.
“He’s the best defensive tackle in the state in my opinion. He plays with a lot of tenacity and reminds me of Josh Downs from Bastrop. He has a quick first step and great hands. He doesn’t stay blocked and he requires a double team at all times.”
Along with having a high ceiling, Johnson also has a passion for the game that will give him plenty of opportunities at the college level, and possibly beyond.
“He’s a student of the game and really just a football freak,” explained Barton. “He plays the game like he loves the game. This kid will play wherever I put him and he’s the type that will die on the field if that is what it takes to win the game.”