Diamond in the Rough: 2024 LB Jamaal Sapp, Ponchatoula (La.)

Cover photo taken by WMsportograohy

Although Tangipahoa Parish produced both All-Pro wide receiver Devonta Smith and emerging star Tyjae Spears, prospects like Poncahtoula’s Jamaal Sapp can get overlooked.

Sapp is one of the best edge rushers not only in South Louisiana but the entire state. The 6’3, 220-pound specimen finished his senior season in style with 67 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and two forced fumbles. He is also an excellent pass coverage linebacker as well and he has intercepted three passes along with two pass breakups.

Not only does Sapp squat 485 pounds and bench 250, but he is also fast for his size as he runs a 4.6 forty. However, when you have those attributes, you better have a high motor.

Sapp currently holds offers from Louisiana Christian, an NAIA school in Pineville, Louisiana, and Pearl River Community College in Mississippi. However, he could pick up more offers in the next few months.

“One of the things that separates me from the rest of the pack is my high motor. I’ll do anything I can to make the play for my team.”

If you also want to know why he is an absolute monster coming off the edge you can blame Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby, one of Sapp’s favorite players. Sapp crafted his game after Crosby because they have similar attributes.

“I model my game after him because he’s very tough, he’s a great pass rusher and defends the run well. He’s also active all over the field and he’s going to make sure he’s going to get to the quarterback.”

One of the things that Sapp acknowleged that one thing that he improved on this season was his pass rush technique.

“Although I know I’m strong I tried to use my speed more than my strength. Eventually, I started to use both my speed and strength along with good technique.

One of Sapp’s favorite memories was getting the chance to play at the Caesars Superdome in the 5A State Championship game in 2021, his sophomore year. Not only was it a special moment for him and his team, but he got to spend it with his older brother, who was also on the team.

Sapp got to play under legendary New Orleans area head coach Hank Tierney in his freshman and sophomore years. Tierney led Ponchatoula to its first state title game appearance since 1940 in 2021 before retiring shortly before taking the head position at Archbishop Shaw High School. Sapp fondly remembers the time he spent playing for Tierney.

“He gave me lessons beyond football and I was very fortunate to have him as my head coach for that time.”

Tierney’s successor, Trey Willie, has built a great relationship with Sapp.

“Coach (Trey) Willie has been a second father to me. He has helped me a lot to become a better football player and put me in the right spots to be successful. It’s only his second year as the coach but the way he coaches and motivates us it seems like he has been doing this for many years.”

Any coach who lands Sapp will get a guy who works hard and has a high motor. Those may be words, but turn on the highlight tape. You will see it in his actions as well.