After Katrina struck
In addition, JCC had perhaps the best player in the country last year in running back Joe McKnight, now at USC. When McKnight and his teammates invaded
At the conclusion of the season last year, John Curtis sat near the top of the national rankings, weighing in at No. 3 in one major poll (PrepNation.com/National Prep Poll), and while the Patriots lost much more than McKnight to graduation (two DL to Big 10 and Pac-10 programs, a LB to an SEC school, and a DB to another SEC school), there is plenty of firepower returning this season, including probably the nation's top secondary.
Standing tall - literally - in the defensive backfield is 6-foot-4, 190-pound senior P.J. Smith, who is the No. 17 ranked player in
Perhaps not coincidentally, Smith just returned from the Bama football camp and he raved about the experience.
"I loved it," said Smith. "Coach Nick (Saban) worked us hard. I thought it was going to be laid back like many camps, but it was intense. It wasn't like a regular camp."
Smith said that he received a lot of hands-on attention from Saban, who is renowned for his defensive prowess.
"He showed me how to work on my backpedal, my breaks (for the ball), and staying low so I can use my leverage."
Accompanying the three-star Smith to
Smith said that Green shined at
"Robby was the best player at the entire camp," said Smith proudly. "I want to put that out there."
While the mere presence of Smith and Green would make for one of the country's best secondaries, the buck doesn't stop there. Strong safety Alex Lauricella, a Tulane commit, was named the MVP of the Stanford Camp.
Rounding out the defensive
backfield is a familiar name - sophomore Jonathan McKnight, Joe's younger
brother. McKnight, aided by a crushing block from his older brother,
returned a punt for a long TD versus 5A Mandeville last year.
"Alex is good," Smith said. "He's the fastest player on the team."
"Jonathan isn't as good as his brother yet," quipped Smith.
The Crimson Tide and Saban was the first program to offer Smith and that has stuck in the senior free safety's mind.
"(That first offer) shows that a school has confidence in you," Smith said.
While LSU has reportedly offered, Smith said that the Tigers are taking a wait-and-see stance right now.
The one knock that critics have made about Smith is his speed.
"I'm not fast, but I'm not slow," he said. "I've run below a 4.6 before."
And Smith's thoughts on the 2007 season?
"It won't be as easy as last year," he said, "but I don't see us losing a game.
"We've been working hard and I watched some film of (5A
John Curtis Christian will seek its 22nd state football title this fall.