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Top performers from the 2023 Louisiana state championships

On3 imageby:Sam Spiegelman12/10/23


NEW ORLEANS — Championship weekend returned to the Caesars Superdome last weekend as some of the best teams around Louisiana gathered under one roof to decide eight state champions. The future stars of Saturday and even Sunday were also in attendance.

Talented players from the 2024, 2025 and 2026 recruiting classes and beyond showed out in the Dome over the weekend. On3 was on hand for all of the action throughout. Here are On3 National Recruiting Analyst Sam Spiegelman’s top performers:

On3 MVP: RB James Simon – 2025

2025 four-star RB James Simon was sensational in the Superdome with a tough, gritty performance against one of the state’s most feared defenses. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound On300 back in next year’s class from Shreveport (La.) Calvary piled up 193 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 6.4 YPC against St. Charles Catholic.

Simon was tough running between the tackles and consistently falls forward. He’s devastating as a cut-and-run style of runner and can accelerate in a hurry. Simon extends plays with his contact balance and by running through tacklers. He’s been a workhorse the entire season, which included re-writing the record books at his high school and matching his father John Simon’s touchdown total from his state title run in the 1990s. There are few backs in the 2025 class as well-rounded as Simon, a true between-the-tacklers runner with the speed to break off long runs and a true asset in the passing game.

2. TE Trey’Dez Green – LSU

Trey’Dez Green has excelled in the Zachary (La.) offense throughout the season and his ascension in the On300 and Industry Rankings reflects as much. In his final prep game in the Superdome on Saturday, the future LSU tight end was spectacular.

Green made combat catches in the middle of the field and superb hands catches along the sidelines. He beat double-teams consistently as an absolute mismatch at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds. Green’s basketball skills translate extremely well to his ability to high-point and snatch the ball in mid-air. Green can make plays in multiple parts of the field and comes off as a true flex-tight end-receiver. He took a massive step forward in his progression as a senior, and he’s still just scratching the surface.

3. RB D’Shaun Ford – 2025

2025 RB D’Shaun Ford was a force coming downhill out of the backfield for Opelousas (La.) High. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound junior back amassed 152 yards on the ground and averaged 5.6 YPC running between the tackles and consistently propelling forward. Ford runs with attitude and with purpose.

Ford is broad and swollen with a very strong lower half. Facing loaded Cecilia (La.) defensive boxes for the entirety of the contest, Ford ran through contact and reached the second level and was very successful converting short down-and-distances and eventually finding seams to break loose.

4. QB Joshua Brantley – 2025

2025 Ruston (La.) Joshua Brantley spent a year waiting for his turn in the Dome after serving as the backup during the Bearcats’ title run in 2022. Brantley, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior, has a cannon for an arm and is equally dynamic with the ball in his hands. His ability to extend plays, make explosive plays with his legs and also make timely decisions passing yielded 331 total yards and three touchdowns, including the deciding score in the fourth quarter. It also resulted in MVP honors.

Last summer, Brantley clocked a 4.58-second 40 at multiple college camps. That speed was evident with 134 yards rushing alone. He ran between the tackles and was a force converting on short down-and-distances, and also had the speed to break loose to the perimeter on occasion.

Brantley finished 11-of-19 through the air and averaged 6.7 YPC. He’s giving this analyst Ja’Quinden Jackson vibes in North Louisiana.

5. QB Daniel Beale – Louisiana

2024 QB Daniel Beale and the Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic offense clicked on all cylinders. Beale, a Louisiana-Lafayette commitment and four-year starter, showed great awareness in the pocket and was extremely accurate and timely making smart decisions, an M.O. of this quarterback during his time leading the Bears.

Against a fierce Acadiana defensive front that had been giving opposing offenses fits in the post-season, Beale moved well within and outside the pocket to extend plays and was on-point distributing the football to his weapons.

6. CB Ju’Juan Johnson – LSU

As St. Thomas More HC Jim Hightower says, “You don’t stop Ju’Juan.”

Ju’Juan” Johnson, playing in his fourth consecutive state title game, turned in a 457-yard effort with 192 yards on the ground and three touchdowns playing hero for Lafayette (La.) Christian. The do-it-all athlete was unreal extending plays, juking and shaking defenders to break outside the pocket on a play in, play out basis.

Johnson has a knack for making magic happen. He’s spectacular as an off-schedule playmaker. He’s a menace to tackle in space. Four years of leading the LCA offense, Johnson is well-versed in route concepts and has shown such a nose for end zone. His ability to cut and run should translate well as he transitions into the LSU secondary.

7. LB Jadon Mayfield – Louisiana Tech

Ruston (La.) LB Jadon Mayfield was a standout last year in the Division I non-select contest. The Louisiana Tech commitment had a game-leading 9.5 tackles, including 2 TFL, 7 solo stops and 2 sacks. Mayfield also saw key carries on offense and also saw snaps in blocking roles for Bearcats’ power run formations.

Mayfield, a four-year starter, is a tad undersized but pesky in the middle of the Ruston defense. He’s had an impact playing multiple positions in the second level as well as playing off the line of scrimmage. He’s speedy roaming to the sidelines and attacks the ball, wraps up well in the open field, and has a knack for jarring balls loose.

8. DL Dominick McKinley – Texas A&M

Five-star Lafayette (La.) Acadiana DL Dominick McKinley has added another 10 pounds throughout the season and is played his best football down the stretch of the state championship run. Playing off the edge and also working inside, McKinley was explosive firing off the ball and commanding multiple blockers up front.

McKinley was able to force pressure on several passes. His length and brute strength give fits to opposing linemen, and he’s continuing to make strides. He crashed down to slow down the inside run on a few occasions and also notched a four-yard TFL. The Texas A&M commitment was disruptive, especially working off the edge for the Rams.

9. S Blaine Bradford – 2026

2026 four-star S Blaine Bradford made his second start of the season in the Superdome on Friday. After rehabbing an injury from the summer, the elite sophomore was back in action in the state semis and made his presence felt from the jump in the Division I select championship game. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound safety is long and strong and is a very physical presence from up top in the secondary or playing down closer to the box.

Bradford came away with 6 tackles, including a TFL. He plays downhill and is a sound tackler, and plays like an enforcer on the field. Despite missing action this fall, Bradford didn’t skip a beat in coverage. He had a pass break-up in the first half on a deep-ball attempt. His ceiling is through the roof, and then some.

10. OT Kavion Broussard – Miami

Miami OT commit Kavion Broussard looked the part as an underclassman, but at 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds was an enforcer at left tackle for Zachary. Broussard was sound in pass protection and moved well at his towering size. He’s taken a huge step forward in his positional development, as well as his ability to use his hands and his length to his advantage.

Broussard not only has traits like height and wingspan, he’s playing nasty football at a premium position. He’s a stock-up 2024 tackle, in this analyst’s opinion.

Next five up

  • 2024 RB Barry Remo totaled 128 yards and 3 touchdowns. At 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, Remo is not only productive, but a dynamic runner with the ability to run through contact and make plays as a receiver. He plays low, runs with a second gear and is difficult to get a hold of in space.
  • 2025 four-star LB Corey Amos is 6-foot-3 with great length playing multiple positions for Opelousas. In addition to coverage at linebacker and in the nickel, Amos is at his best being disruptive in the box. He came away with several splash plays in the title game win.
  • 2024 Miami commitment Dylan Day is long (6-foot, 180 pounds) and plays a very physical brand of football. A freelancer for Baton Rouge (La.) Southern Lab, Day has speed to dart to the football. He’s instinctual and covers a ton of ground on the back end of the defense, and has big-play potential in him.
  • Louisiana Tech 2025 QB commit Jackson Bradley set a (then) state championship record for most rushing yards in a game with 215 yards on the ground with three TD and north of 9 YPC rushing. Bradley is a physical force at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds with a country-strong running style that makes opposing defenders think before wrapping up. He also has a strong arm to match. One coach in the Dome watching raved about another X-factor with Bradley: leadership.
  • 2025 Shreveport (La.) Calvary QB Abram Wardell played excellent football, especially in the second half. Wardell showed poise in the pocket delivering accurate passes downfield and to different levels of the field in the second half against one of the state’s best defenses. Both of the junior QB’s touchdowns came in the final 2:47 of game time.

Additional notes and observations

  • 2026 Lafayette (La.) Acadiana EDGE Darryus McKinley has a different skill set than his older brother and also hit his stride late in the season. The younger McKinley flies around off the edge and is very sharp defending the run to the sideline. Another off-season, he could also be taking similar leaps in his game as his brother did.
  • 2025 Ruston (La.) CB Aidan Anding was superb in the Bearcats’ win. He provided single coverage on Green and also returned a punt for a touchdown and was slippery in the process. Anding, who also hoops and runs track for Ruston. In the spring, he registered a 22-2.5 in the long jump.
  • 2025 Reserve (La.) Riverside RB Dedrick Lastie is compact and runs low with a strong center of gravity and plus-balance. Lastie came away with explosive plays in the run game and the return game.
  • 2025 Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic Jacob Bradford was rarely tested vs. Acadiana’s passing game. He flashed the 4.4 speed making a cross-field tackle to save a touchdown. He’s a very skilled cover corner.
  • Texas-committed DL Melvin Hills played multiple positions up front for Lafayette (La.) Christian. He crashed off the end and was able to apply pressure. He also defended the perimeter run well tackling in space.
  • 2024 S Luke Wisham has played multiple positions during his time at Zachary (La.), including receiver, and found a home in the secondary. He flies to the football from up top of the defense and led the team with 6.5 tackles. He also is active on special teams and came away with a fumble recovery.
  • Vacherie (La.) St. James OT Jarmaine Mitchell is a big body that jumped out at LSU camp. He’s continued to showcase his length and massive hands. He’s the clay for an OL coach to mold.
  • Laplace (La.) St. Charles 2024 WR Daniel Charles is has flown under the radar. At 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, the long-framed pass-catcher was sharp working on the perimeter for the Comets. He came strong back to the football on underneath routes, showed some finesse along the sideline, and turned a bubble screen into a 60-plus-yard TD long-striding through tacklers to the paint.
  • 2026 Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic EDGE Rushad Fleming-Ricard is long and active on the stout Bears front seven. Fleming-Ricard is a force off the edge, tackled well in space and firing to the ball.