Lake Area's pipeline to LSU football

By By Troy LaFleur / American Press

When Jacory Washington and Trey Quinn signed their names on the dotted line Wednesday, they became the third and fourth athletes from Southwest Louisiana to sign scholarships to play football at LSU in the past two years, following in the footsteps of Desean Smith and Melvin Jones.

The foursome represent the largest number of local players to ever go to Baton Rouge on football scholarships in a two-year span.

Jones and Smith both made their true freshman debuts for the Tigers in 2013.

Jones, a Washington-Marion product, was recruited as a linebacker out of high school, but began the transition to fullback in his first season. His debut came in the Tigers’ homecoming game against Furman, when he caught his lone pass of the season — a 7-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Jones has a chance to seal up the starting fullback spot in August as both J.C. Copeland and Connor Neighbors exhausted their eligibility.

Smith, a Barbe graduate, saw his first action in LSU’s opening game versus Texas Christian. He appeared in two more games, catching one pass for 14 yards. The tight end is expected to compete with junior Dillon Gordon for the starting job next season.

Smith will be reunited with former high school teammate Quinn this fall. The duo helped lead Barbe to the Class 5A state championship game in 2012, their final game together in high school.

“The sky is the limit for those two. They are great kids who work hard, and they compete,” said Barbe head coach Mike Cutrera. “They both have the chance of getting playing time early on in their careers.”

Washington will join Smith on the depth chart as a tight end where he hopes his athleticism will propel him to early playing time.

Other Southwestern Louisiana athletes to sign scholarships with LSU in recent history include Sulphur linebacker Tahj Jones, Leesville running back Michael Ford, who now plays for the Chicago Bears; Elton defensive tackle Al Woods, who spent two years with the New Orleans Saints; and Barbe running back Justin Vincent, who was with the Pittsburgh Steelers for their Super Bowl XLIII victory after spending four years with the team. Currently on the LSU roster as walk-ons are placekicker Alex Kjellsten and wide receiver Lenny Breda, both of St. Louis Catholic.

“Southwest Louisiana has some good football,” Cutrera said. “There are good coaches in this area who do a really good job and there is a lot of talent. That mix will hopefully bring more colleges to check out what we have in this area.”

Jennings wide receiver/defensive back Malik Williams also signed to play for a Division I college program Wednesday when he submitted his National Letter of Intent to Louisiana-Lafayette, where he will be joined by preferred walk-on Chuck Harlow, an offensive tackle from DeRidder.

“Hopefully they set the stage for next year,” Cutrera said. “We’ve got good talent in this area and hopefully more guys from here will have the chance to play at places like LSU.”