DENHAM SPRINGS – Two days before he wound up signing with a Division III school to continue his football career, Denham Springs cornerback Caleb Young was entertaining a career path entirely unrelated to athletics.
“I was going to St. John’s University in New York to pursue something totally different,” Young said. “But something inside me said that I couldn’t leave football. It’s just something in my head that told me.”
Young decided to act on that impulse, joining two Denham Springs teammates during a signing ceremony last Wednesday at Grady Hornsby Gymnasium, where he signed with East Texas Baptist.
Wide receiver/athlete Kaleb Drummer was also in the number, signing with Louisiana College, and offensive lineman Jake Evans is headed to Southeastern Louisiana after signing a preferred walk-on agreement.
That increased the number of players to nine in Denham Springs’ senior class who have opted to continue their playing careers at either the junior college or collegiate level.
“Wins are a byproduct of days like this,” third-year Denham Springs coach Bill Conides said. “We’re very fortunate to have nine guys sign, which is almost half of our senior class, which is really impressive. This is something we take a lot of pride in.
“It’s not just Division I scholarships, it’s an opportunity for a young man to play football beyond high school,” Conides said. “If that’s something they want to do, then as a coach I feel we have the obligation to provide that for them and to do everything in our power to help them out.”
Denham Springs is sending a total of three players to Louisiana College with Drummer joining linebacker Brennan Leblanc and wide receiver Hunter Bond, who signed in February, and two to Southeastern with Evans joining outside linebacker Davion Nassri.
Defensive back E.J. Burgess signed with East Texas Baptist as well, along with wide receiver D.J. Williams (Blinn Junior College) and place-kicker Jose Ortega (preferred walk-on at Northwestern State).
The Yellow Jackets finished the 2018 season with a 7-5 record, falling 38-37 at home in the state regionals to Acadiana.
Drummer had quite an impact on the DSHS offense where he averaged nearly 88 all-purpose yards per game.
All first-team All-Parish selection was second on the team with 44 catches for 665 yards (15.1 yards per catch) with nine touchdowns to go along with 22 rushes for 174 yards and a score.
Moreover, Drummer had a 23-yard average on kickoff returns and 15-yard average on punt returns.
“It’s amazing because I didn’t think I’d have the chance to move on and play in college,” Drummer said. “LC wanted me and I’m going to give them all the effort I’ve got. I’ll be excited to go and play. I watched film and saw they would be the right college to go to and play football.”
Drummer said LC’s up-tempo offense is similar to the one he played in under Conides.
“It seemed like a place I could fit in when I visited in January,” Drummer said. “It was quiet, which is good because I’m kind of to myself. They run basically the same offense we did, so I can get the ball a lot and move in space.”
Said Conides: “I know LC was excited to get him. As long as he continues to do the right things and work hard, I think he’s going to have a chance to play early and do something really special in that conference.”
The 6-foot, 307-pound Evans, a first-team All-Parish choice, was an integral part of Denham Springs’ offense which, averaged 31 points and nearly 400 yards per outing.
Evans was a three-year starter at guard, where he’s projected to play at Southeastern Louisiana where his father also attended school.
He credited to move of A.J. Hopp to offensive line coach this season with the Lions for opening the door for his decision.
“He looked at my film and liked me,” Evans said of Hopp. “I visited, talked to him and really liked the place. That’s where my dad went and that’s always where I wanted to go.”
Conides said SLU always appeared to have an interest in Evans.
“They were always high on him, but it was kind of a height thing with them,” he said. “They’ve always been excited about him and like him at guard. He got his ACT up to 22, which will make it really affordable to go. I think he’ll have a chance to play eventually.”
The 6-foot, 187-pound Young was limited to eight games last season, producing 17 tackles – including a season-high six against Ponchatoula – to go along with two interceptions.
Conides sees Young’s high football IQ and athleticism serving him well going forward.
“He’s a two-year starter who’s super intelligent and because of that I knew he had a future playing in college,” he said. “It’s something he wanted to do and athletically I felt he could do it.”
Young looks forward to combining forces with Burgess once again.
“I looked at about 13 schools and decided I had a better chance to progress at a D3 school,” Young said. “With E.J. going there and we both play corner, I figured we can do something special there.”