La. notes: junior Beckwith one to watch

JACKSON, La. -- When it comes to junior prospects from the state of Louisiana, remember the name Kendall Beckwith (Jackson, La./East Feliciana). He’s a big athlete with a big scholarship offer already. Beckwith, 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, mainly plays quarterback for his high school team but projects on the other side of the ball at defensive end or outside linebacker, depending on scheme.

“He had a really good junior season,” East Feliciana coach Cedric Anderson said. “We lost our entire offensive line and our three starting receivers. He made All-District for the third team. Last year he has All-State as a sophomore. As a quarterback, he’s a dual-threat with a big, big arm. Defensively, he’s so athletic and so fast. He has great feet and is a quick learner. Kendall has a knack for the ball and is a very explosive hitter.”

For Beckwith, it was a difficult year and a great learning experience.

“It was certainly a challenge,” Beckwith said. “I had to be more of a leader this season because we had some younger guys playing for the first time. I like playing quarterback but I love playing defense. I love hitting people rather than being hit. And I love making big plays on defense. That’s where I really want to play.”

As a sophomore Beckwith threw for 1,582 yards and 18 touchdown passes and rushed for 863 yards and 15 scores. This past season, Beckwith threw for 1,083 yards and eight touchdown passes and rushed for 876 yards and eight scores. In very limited time on defense he recorded 41 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, nine sacks and four forced fumbles.

“We really only played him on certain third-down situations,” Anderson said. “That was kind of the deal I made with him because we needed him to play quarterback. Can you imagine what kind of numbers he would have posted had he played defensive end full-time?”

Believe it or not Anderson feels he can play quarterback at the next level but admits he has so much more upside on defense. In fact, he performed quite well at Alabama’s summer camp playing quarterback. And the Crimson Tide is the lone team that has offered him to this point.

“That was one of the best days of my life,” Beckwith said. “It was last spring. I called coach [Burton] Burns and then spoke with coach [Nick] Saban. He was at a golf tournament and offered me a scholarship. Man was that exciting.

“I love the facilities at Alabama. I like the fact that coach Saban is a strict coach who demands so much. I also love how hard and how physical they play.”

While Alabama is his lone offer, LSU is very close to pulling the trigger. So are Auburn, Mississippi State, Oregon and a handful of others.

It’s still very early in the process for Beckwith this could end up becoming an LSU/Alabama battle. His cousin, Darry Beckwith, played for the Tigers.

“I love the environment at LSU,” Beckwith said. “They are crazy there. Coach [Les] Miles is a cool guy that’s very easy to talk to. He’s cool with a lot of energy. Like Alabama, I love the way they play defense. I have gotten some great, positive feedback from LSU and I expect an offer to come soon.”

At this point, does Beckwith call Alabama or LSU his early leader or is he open with recruiting?

“I am open with the process,” Beckwith said. “I have strong interest in those schools as well as teams like Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Florida and Texas A&M. I am looking at defensive schemes, the coaching staffs and stuff away from the game of football.”

A big man at McDonough 35

One of the top offensive line prospects in the Class of 2013 from Louisiana is Kenneth Santa Marina (New Orleans, La./McDonough 35). Santa Marina is 6-7 and 315 pounds.

“For his size he has very quick feet,” McDonough 35 coach Wayne Reese said. “I mean he has really good feet. He lost 15 pounds and I think that has really helped him. He didn’t need that extra week and I think that’s been a big help for him this season. But he’s also a kid that just a great listener and a very hard worker who’s dedicated. He hasn’t missed a practice since the 8th grade. His dad and grandfather really push him hard. He’s got a great attitude and is always positive.”

Santa Marina was busy this summer on the camp circuit, spending time at LSU, Alabama and Nichols State.

“I think he can be great,” Reese said. “If he keeps working the way he’s working, the sky’s the limit. He just needs to hit the weight room and stay in the right frame of mind.”

Two of the schools Santa Marina is hearing from the most are LSU and Alabama. One, or both, could offer him a scholarship very soon.

“Right now, I am just trying to see where I am comfortable,” Santa Marina said. “I know I would love to play in the SEC.”

Santa Marina has been to two LSU games this fall.

Reese reminisces about Marshall Faulk

Wayne Reese has been a fixture in the city of New Orleans coaching football. He’s currently at McDonough 35 after spending many years at nearby Carver. While at Carver he was the high school coach of Marshall Faulk, who starred with San Diego State before his spectacular NFL career with the Colts and Rams.

“It was a thing of beauty watching Faulk play,” said Reese with a wide smile. “We were all in awe. He is what I would call a 48-minute player because he never left the field. Marshall was a kid who played with so much energy and never got tired. Never. He was amazing. He was a great running back and I still believe he would have been an ever better cornerback. No doubt.”

In fact, at the time, most recruiters wanted Faulk as a corner. One of the very few schools that recruited Faulk purely as a running back was San Diego State.

“You had no chance with him if you wanted him to play defense,” Reese said. “I remember when he visited San Diego State. They said they would give him a shot at running back. If you didn’t tell him at least that you had no shot. And back then not all the big schools recruited the inner city. A lot of big schools missed out.”

What people don’t realize was the Faulk was also a great baseball player and track star.

“Marshall could have been a major leaguer as a centerfielder,” Reese said. “On a curved track he ran a 20.0 200 meters. I have never seen anything like him.”

The best part of Faulk, Reese says, is that he never forgot where he came from.

“I remember one year he bought everyone that lived in the Ninth Ward Christmas presents,” Reese said. “One year he flew a group of kids from New Orleans up to Indianapolis for a game. All that was his own money. He never forgot New Orleans. Marshall Faulk is so loved here.”