HAMMOND, La. - Very rarely do you see a junior dominate a game and clearly be the best player on either team in a jamboree game. What is even more uncommon is when it happens when East St. John is playing Hammond, two programs that always produce Division I prospects. Dominate, is exactly what Reserve (La.) East St. John outside linebacker/safety Stefoin Francois, a Rivals.com Class of 2007 player to watch did.
The first hour of the scrimmage between the two, each team's offense would take the field and run 12 consecutive plays regardless of turnovers or whether or not a first down was reached. On the first series Francois made nine tackles, on the second he made 10. You get the picture, this kid is special.
"To be honest I'm not really hearing from anyone yet," Francois said. "I think we have so many prospects that are seniors this year that coaches aren't worried about what our younger guys look like. It gives me an advantage that we have all of these guys because if I play real well, then they will be asking who I am too. I just want to go out and have a good year and show what I can do."
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Francois checks in at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and was an unstoppable force for the Wildcat defense. He made some of the best reads you'll ever see. In fact, there were a couple of occasions where Francois would see that the running back was taking the ball around the corner and Francois would actually beat him to the corner and tackle him for a loss. They ran counters, they double teamed him, they tried to run away from him, but none of it worked.
Francois dominated a game in which LSU commitment, Troy Giddens, East St. John wide receivers, Ricky Dixon, Louis Lee, Roy James and offensive lineman Jamarr Thompson all played. All are considered to be Division I players on the next level.
"I really don't think I have any weaknesses in my game to be honest," Francois said. "My strengths are playing the run and defending the pass. I'm strong, fast and easy to coach. I'm always asking questions, trying to learn new things that will help me improve my game. I think the thing I do best is reading stuff, it's almost like as soon as the ball is snapped, I know where it's going. It all just comes naturally."
Francois is on the Rivals.com list of juniors to watch for 2007 and will be very highly ranked next season. The big question, is who are his favorites.
"Right now LSU, Tennessee and Georgia are my favorite schools," Francois said. "I really enjoy watching those teams and the way they play defense. They always dominate people on the defensive side of the ball. Things may change when I start getting recruited real hard, but I really like those three right now."
The size, strength and speed that Francois possesses will allow him to play either outside linebacker or safety on the next level, but he feels he will fit in a little better at one position.
"I started at safety as a sophomore, but this year I am playing linebacker because the team needs me there," Francois said. "Playing linebacker hasn't been much of an adjustment because it relies more on instincts than any position. I feel more comfortable at safety, but I would definitely play safety. I'm just in to hitting people."
Coach Larry Dauterive has certainly coached a lot of special players through the years, but he as well, feels that Francois has a chance to set himself apart from some of the others.
"He's the best kept secret in Louisiana right now," Dauterive said. "We have a lot of seniors so a lot of people haven't been paying him a lot of attention, but they will be. He's going to make and entrance and knock the doors off the recruiting world. There are a lot of things I want to say about him, but I won't yet because it's such high praise."
Scouting note: Francois is one of the best players I've seen in quite sometime. I almost always try to avoid dishing out too much praise to a player, especially this early, but I honestly think he's the second best prospect in Louisiana right now behind Al Woods. There are SEC schools were this kid could go and beat out any linebacker or safety on their roster right now. Yes, he's that good. East St. John is becoming a football factory, as the entire Wildcat secondary are juniors and all will get looks from colleges.