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Three local players ink Division I scholarships

Written by John Dupont on .

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Two high school football players signed with Division I colleges Wednesday on National Signing Day, while another inked his name on a scholarship a day later.

Port Allen quarterback/defensive back Darian Claiborne signed with Texas A&M, while PAHS running back Jestin Kelly put his name on the dotted line with Grambling State.

Brusly quarterback Jay Christophe jumped on the bandwagon with Texas Southern in Houston.

Claiborne – who will most likely play defense for the Aggies --- worked double duty the last two years for Port Allen, where he also served as starting quarterback for the Pelicans, whose season ended against Livonia in the Class 3A regionals.

He finished as the District 7-3A Most Valuable Defensive Player, and landed a spot on the first-team Class 3A roster.

Claiborne also notched first-team honors on the All-State Class 3A roster.

He finished the season with 101 tackles, 11 pass break-ups and five sacks.

As a quarterback, he completed 175 of 387 passes for 2,965 yards for 28 touchdowns. He carried 368 times for 2,025 yards for 26 TDs.

Claiborne fielded offers from nearly a dozen other colleges, including Nebraska, Ole Miss and TCU.

“It still feels kind of surreal,” he said. “I’m really going to miss Port Allen, but I’m close enough to come home on weekends.”

Claiborne held back some emotion when he spoke at the ceremony in the PAHS cafeteria.

“I’m nervous, but I want you all to know I want you all to keep in touch with me,” he said. “”I got to get that paper from A&M and bring it back to ya’ll and let ya’ll know I haven’t forgotten about ya’ll.”

Kelly, a transfer from Redemptorist, tallied 1,055 yards on 153 carries. He scored 14 Pelican TDs.

“It’s a great feeling to be signing after a great season,” he said. “I’m just glad Grambling offered me. I liked the coaches and the players and decided that’s where I want to spend the next four years.

“You look at all the players who’ve gone to the NFL at Grambling,” Kelly said. “They know the inside channels to get players there.”

Kelly played only one year at PAHS, but he said he loved the experience.

“They took me in from the first day and made me feel right at home,” he said. “Everyone has been so good to me here. I’ll really miss it.”

The scholarships speak as much about the success of players off the field, Port Allen head football coach Guy Blanchard said.

“We’re here today because of a body of work and four years of commitment that didn’t just take place on the field,” he said. “It’s about the teachers and administration who made this possible.

“It’s the teachers who make it possible for these guys to be successful,” Blanchard said. “It’s about blood, sweat and tears.”

Christophe went out in grand fashion for Brusly. He finished his senior year as 2012 Most Valuable Offensive Player of the Year in Class 3A and District 7-3A.

He amassed 2,039 yards and 32 touchdowns, with 1,203 passing yards.

Christophe served as starting quarterback three years for the Panthers. He helped lead BHS to the 2012 3Aregionals, where their season ended in a 32-28 heartbreaker against eventual 3A champ Parkview Baptist.

Southern, University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, Prairie View, Howard and Delta State also fielded offers to Christophe.

“It’s good to see that he’s going to be in good hands,” Brusly coach Erik Willis. “It looks like they really recruited well, and they surrounded a whole class around Jay.

“On one hand, it makes him know they really want him, but at the same time it puts a little more pressure on Jay to succeed. He thrives under pressure, and they’re getting a good one.”

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