Picone Fired Up About Texas Tech

RaiderPower.com caught up with Mandeville (La.) linebacker John Picone for an update on his relationship with Texas Tech and his overall recruitment.

Mandeville (La.) outside linebacker/defensive end Johnathan Picone has been playing football since he was 10 years old, and never wanted to put the ball down.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound prospect is the oldest of four and is actually home-schooled. Louisiana passed a law his eighth grade year allowing him to play football in high school despite not attending one, so on Friday nights in the fall he makes the short trip from nearby Covington, La. to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines.

The versatile prospect initially came in as a quarterback, then played at safety, linebacker, and eventually defensive end as he gained more weight. He spent his entire junior year at defensive end in Mandeville's complex 3-3 stack scheme, racking up 14 sacks and 19 tackles for loss for the Skippers against Louisiana 5A competition.

"I think my best asset is my motor. If you watch my film, I play as hard on the last play as I do on the first play. My favorite thing to do--nothing crushes an offense like a sack," Picone said. "Especially rushing the passer, it's special, it's a violent art is what it is. The best pass rushers are smooth but also violent at the same time. I've really tried to get my game like that, be as violent but as smooth as I can."

Head coach Guy LeCompte has been with Mandeville as a head coach for a long time, compiling a 66-27 record since 2006. His school's unique defensive scheme allowed for Picone to adjust quickly to life along the line of scrimmage.

"We have two defensive ends that line up on the tackles if it's a spread set. We'll pretty much walk a linebacker down if there's a tight end," Picone said. "That's what made it for them pretty easy to put me there... It's a pretty complicated defense, but being within the front six, they're kind of like mirror images of each other. If you know the strong side, you can play the weak side."

While the 2016 prospect expressed a desire to rush the passer at the next level, he also reiterated his willingness to play where he's most needed in college.

"If they need me as an inside linebacker, I'll play inside linebacker. I'll do whatever I need to do to contribute and get on the field."

The pass-rushing prospect received an offer from Texas Tech earlier this year, and the Red Raider coaching staff are in a good spot with him early.

"Coach [Kevin] Curtis, he recruits this area so I definitely converse and talk with him more on a regular basis than the other coaches," Picone said. "I've talked to every coach on the defensive staff, and I love all the coaches. I'm really, really fired up about everything that the defensive staff has to offer. I love energy, and I can definitely feel energy when I'm there with them on the phone. I don't see how I can go wrong being around those kind of guys."

Picone also feels good about Tech's football program and school as a whole, addingthe Red Raiders have earned an official visit for the standout defender.

"There's not a whole lot that I don't like about Texas Tech. Throughout the entire recruiting process, they've been extremely professional in every aspect of it. I'm definitely gonna be taking an official visit in September."

When asked if he preferred to stay in-state for college Picone said he had no problem leaving Louisiana for a better situation at the next level.

"A lot of schools ask me, 'are you afraid to travel,' but I'm not afraid to travel. I'm gonna go where the football's the best... It's important to me to be wanted. I want to go where I'm celebrated and not tolerated. I don't see how I can fail in a setting like that."

The Bayou State defender didn't name an official top group of schools, but the Red Raiders are near the top for Picone by all indications. He doesn't have an official timeline set up yet, but he won't be waiting too long as he is an early enrollee.

"I will definitely be committed before January because I'm graduating in December and will enroll early."

Picone lists offers from Army, Western Kentucky, Tulane, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss, Texas Tech, Toledo, and Troy. He is also receiving interest from Georgia Tech, Arizona State, and Kansas State, among others.

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