Class of 2012 Introduction: Ricky Wyatt

Neville is set to defend its 4A state title and the Tigers will need a strong effort from middle linebacker Ricky Wyatt to accomplish that feat. Wyatt, along with fellow standouts DT Demarcus Hodge and DB Andrew Jackson, hopes to shut down 5A state champion West Monroe early in the season and hand the Rebels their first loss in a couple of years.

Neville is seeking to defend its 4A state championship and the Tigers will need a big season from middle linebacker Ricky Wyatt to accomplish that goal.

As a sophomore, Wyatt (5-10, 220, 4.65) was seventh on the team in tackles, recording 25 solo stops with nine assists. He'll be counted on for a much bigger season in 2010 after fellow LB Wa'Derrious Sellers, the team's leading tackler, graduated and signed with Northwestern State.

"I stepped out as a sophomore," said Wyatt, "and got some good experience. I started a couple of games. This year, we'll be up for a challenge, having to replace 35 seniors. We should have more speed on defense though. We'll be good pursuing the football."

Wyatt will get a chance to impress on September 10th when Neville plays host to the defending 5A state champion West Monroe Rebels. Last year, West Monroe edged Neville 30-27 and the Rebels have plenty of offensive firepower returning, including electric QB Paul Turner and shifty RB Tyler Cain.

"That will be a challenge right there," said Wyatt of the looming battle between defending state champs. "You have to take each game at a time, but that game is also all that we've been thinking about."

Wyatt is a force in the weight room, boasting some eye-popping numbers for a Class of 2012 prospect (315-pound bench press, 410-pound squat, 310-pound power clean). His game is reminiscent of former Neville great Mark Newbill, although Wyatt is much bigger than Newbill was at that stage of his career.

"I'm a straight downfield player at linebacker," he said, "and I'm best at tackling and pursuing the ball (against the run). I can also drop back into coverage."

In addition to Wyatt, Neville will rely heavily on blue-chip DT Demarcus Hodge, DB Andrew Jackson, and QB/WR John Diarse.

In 2009, the Tigers went 13-1 and held six opponents to single-digits. In the 4A semis, Neville blanked high-powered Lutcher 42-0 and in the finals, the Tigers knocked off another offensive juggernaut in Franklinton.

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