The Gridiron Football Spring Tour continues as yesterday, I went to Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to visit their head coach Marcus Randall and the Panthers during their third day of spring practice.
“We got a lot of guys out here that have a lot of energy. I have been impressed by that because we have a lot of guys that are out here trying to compete for a spot. We got a lot of different spots that are open and there are a lot of guys that are hungry. Obviously, nothing is perfect. We have a lot of learning to do, but I am impressed with their attention to detail in the first few days.”Woodlawn Head Coach Marcus Randall
Entering his fifth season with the Woodlawn Panthers, former LSU quarterback Marcus Randall has brought a lot of excitement to Jefferson Highway as two seasons ago, he led the Panthers to their first district championship in over a decade. Last year, there was certainly a lot of national buzz to the program with DI players all over the football field led by QB Rickie Collins (LSU), CB Jordan Matthews (Tennessee), and OL Roy Brackins III (Louisiana Tech) to name a few. Now, entering 2023, the Panthers are looking to replace a lot of their top players from a season ago.
Replacing one of the program’s all-time great senior classes and playing in one of the toughest districts in the state of Louisiana, which consists some of the biggest program names including the likes of Catholic High School, Scotlandville, and Zachary just to name a few, there might not be as much preseason hype for the Panthers as last season. However, the 2023 version of the Panthers could be just as dangerous, especially flying under the radar.
“This is a different spot for us. The last couple of years, we got the bullseye because of the guys you just mentioned that helped us the last four years. We have a new group of guys, but they have been in the system so it’s time for them to step up, fill in those starting spots, and compete. Being under the radar is a good place to be right now. We will be a brand-new team and we will find out who those new guys are as we keep rolling.”Woodlawn High School Head Coach Marcus Randall
One of those new guys happens to be at the quarterback position. Filling in the shoes of a program great like Rickie Collins, who is now playing at LSU can be very difficult, but a quarterback guru like Marcus Randall believes that new signal caller Myron Nelson is the right man for the job.
“I know that he hasn’t gotten the chance to really start but getting the chance to sit behind Rickie the last three years, he will have the chance to come in and show what he’s able to do. He’s a three-sport athlete and sometimes, the way you look at him, it doesn’t seem like it, but he had his first dunk this year. He starts on the basketball team, starts on the baseball team, and now, he will be the guy that steps up at the quarterback position. He is a smart guy standing about 6’3 so he’s got a nice stature and can see over the line. He can move, run, and is a guy that y’all should keep an eye on this year.”Woodlawn High School Head Coach Marcus Randall
Even though Nelson comes in as a new starter, he will have a dynamic athlete to throw the football to in the slot, and that is Ryan Brown.
“He’s a slot machine. They call him the Glitch. He will put moves on you. He is going to be a great shifty guy that has sure hands. He had a chance last year as a 10th grader to catch a couple of touchdowns and make some big plays. He had a game winning touchdown against E.D. White. He’s a guy that I have seen play all his life. He is dynamic, electrifying, and is on kick returns. He will help us a lot offensively, and special teams wise.”Woodlawn Head Coach Marcus Randall
Up front, the Panthers did lose guys like Roy Brackins, but they do return Cedric May, who at 6’3, 300 pounds, will be looked upon to lead the trenches on both sides of the football.
“Cedric May is another big-name guy around this area right now that when we start talking offensive and defensive line, he came in and played nose guard back when we had a 3-4 defense. Last year, we were just short on offensive line depth. He wanted to step in and be a leader on that offensive line at offensive guard. A lot of coaches have talked to him about playing offensive line, but he also has some interest on the defensive line. He will get the chance this year to play both ways and be the anchor on both sides of the football. I think he will have a big year for us his senior season.”Woodlawn Head Coach Marcus Randall
May is also the third Woodlawn Panther to be invited to the Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game as two of his defensive teammates Chris Cooper and Tyler Knox have already been offered to play in the prestigious game after having great outings at Gridiron Football’s Elite Camp, which was held at Woodlawn earlier this year.
The former Bluegrass Miracle quarterback is also excited about some of the position groups that will give the Panthers a chance to compete for another district title and a deep run in the playoffs.
“I’ll talk about our running backs. We have a lot of running backs. I can’t just talk about one. We are doing it by committee. Last year, we had Rickie Collins and the receivers, but we didn’t have the running game after losing Amani Givens the year before. We have a stable full of backs. We got speed backs, big backs, a lot of different backs that we are trying to work right now to get that running game up and going.”
“Also, keep an eye on our linebackers. Y’all already offered Chris Cooper, but we also got Alex Collins, Khamory Gipson, and an upcoming sophomore in David Breaud that’s going to be lights out for us and will have a big year.”Woodlawn Head Coach Marcus Randall
As the Panthers navigate through spring practice, Randall wants to make sure that his team is in the best situation possible to be ready once summer comes.
“We came out and started from scratch, so we wanted to put all our time on going through the basics on offense and defense. We want to see them compete. There are a lot of guys competing for starting spots this upcoming summer. We don’t want to complicate things and wanted to see what the kids can actually do and go from there.”Woodlawn Head Coach Marcus Randall
To wrap up spring, the Panthers will have their spring game next Thursday, May 11th against Hammond High School.
Check out the rest of the Gridiron Football Spring Tour Destinations below!