Coach Paul Distefano announced the numerous athletes from Plaquemine High School who have signed commitments to play their respective sport at the college level at a ceremony last week.
The high school has numerous athletes heading to college on athletic scholarships in a number of sports – track, swimming and, of course, football.
“The (football) season ended a lot sooner than we wanted,” Distefano said. “Going into this season, we had a lot of high expectations and maybe we put a little too much pressure on ourselves.”
The Green Devils finished their season with a disappointing loss in the opening game of the playoffs, but had an excellent record, 8-3. Considering some key injuries and other challenges the team faced this year, their coach said “we could’ve very easily gone 6-4.”
“But you guys persevered,” Distefano said, and learned some life lessons along the way. “Sometimes in life, you don’t get everything to go your way.”
Winning that last game, a 19-21 loss to Belle Chasse in the playoffs, “would’ve been great, but that’s life,” he continued. “You guys have a great work ethic and I’m going to miss you all next year.”
Several that Distefano is really going to miss having on the team are three that committed last week to various Louisiana colleges, all key players.
Three Plaquemine High School defensive football players signed their letters of intent in a ceremony in the school’s gymnasium – Codi Willis, Nicholls State, Wayne Toussant, Louisiana Tech, and future LSU Tiger Nelson Jenkins.
All three had outstanding statistics over their years in Green Devil uniforms. Jenkins is a 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive tackle, Toussant is a 5-foot-10, 160-pound cornerback, and Willis is a 6-foot-4, 225-pound tight end.
When his commitment to Nichols was announced, Willis talked about how grateful he was.
“First of all I thank God for making all this happen,” he said. “I want to thank my family for being with me through the process and everything they did for me.”
“I’d also like to thank my coaches, my teammates, my friends and teachers for making me the man I am today,” Willis continued.
Headed to the state’s biggest university in LSU, Jenkins garnered most of the attention from the media.
Like his teammates headed to other state colleges, Jenkins expressed his gratitude to the people who helped him reach his goal.
“First off, I’d like to thank God, thank my teachers and my family,” he said. “It’s been a bumpy road; there’s been a lot of decisions to make.”
“I want to thank my team,” Jenkins continued. “I love you guys to death.”
“One of the things I’m very proud of regarding all of this is that early on, he made a decision and he didn’t use and abuse the recruiting process,” Distefano said.
“He committed to LSU early and he never wavered,” he continued. “He even turned down an invitation from Alabama to talk to Nick Saban.”
“It’s got to be tough to get an invitation from Nick Saban and say no,” Distefano said. “We’re all proud of you.”
“It’s an awesome experience,” Jenkins said of signing with LSU. “Every kid who grows up in Louisiana’s dream is to sign with LSU, to play with LSU.”
“…Coach O is doing something special and I would really love to be a part of it,” he continued. “…LSU is the only place I could see myself playing.”
“They (LSU) made me feel like they love me, that I belonged there,” Jenkins said.
While he said he’s miss playing football and going to Plaquemine High with his friends, he was relieved that the recruiting portion of the process was over.
“I’m ready to go to work,” he said. “I’m just ready to get out there and go to work.”