All over the South we're hearing stories of displaced New Orleans football prospects ending up at schools in other states and in different parts of Louisiana. Two of the last prospects Rivals.com was able to find were New Orleans (Fla.) John F. Kennedy linebacker Brandon Norton and wide receiver Courtney Smith.
"Me and Courtney both have found a home at Prattville high school in Alabama," Norton said. "We talked to our coach about where we should go and he turned us to a friend of his that works with the FCA. We talked to him and he invited us to come up to Prattville and play and we took him up on it."
The 6-foot, 201-pound linebacker attended the NIKE camp in Oxford this summer. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.95 seconds, has a 315-pound bench press and 425-pound squat.
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"Prattville is a good situation for us," Norton said. "We're going to step right in and contribute for these guys. It's a good program that has sent several guys to play for Alabama over the last few years and they were in the state championship game last year. We are supposed to be eligible to play Friday night. We were at practice on Monday, but we just watched, hopefully Tuesday will be our first day."
While Norton is excited about the new opportunity, he wasn't as fortunate as others when it came to the outcome that Hurricane Katrina had on his neighborhood.
"The school is gone," Norton said. "My house is gone, Courtney's house is gone. Our school and houses were in north New Orleans and so we were right on the edge of Lake Ponchartrain where the levees broke, none of it ever had a chance. All those scenes you saw of people getting rescued on TV, those places they couldn't get to except by boat, that was our neighborhood."
Even though both lost virtually everything they owned in the floods, they were fortunate enough to evacuate in time.
"We heard it was coming and that this storm was going to be different," Norton said. "None of us expected this though. We left for Houston to stay with my uncle in Houston that Sunday. I grabbed a few clothes and a few more things and left, thinking everything would be okay. I didn't know that would be the last time I'd see my house or anything in it. Courtney and his family went to Baton Rouge and pretty much went through the same thing. The main thing though is that we are okay and our families are okay."
Both Norton and Smith are considered Division I prospects, particularly Smith who is ranked as the No. 20 player in the state of Louisiana.
"We have not gotten any calls from college coaches, but thats because our phone numbers have changed and no one has been able to get in touch with us," Norton said. "College coaches can't call my coach and get our numbers either because they don't know how to get in touch with him. It's a mess right now. We were hoping to have big games our first few games of the year so we could send out film. Now schools still don't have film on us, but the coaches at Prattville told us they were going to try to get our names out there."
The 6-foot-4, 192-pound Smith attended the NIKE camp in Oxford where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds, ran the shuttle in 4.37 seconds and posted a 25-inch vertical jump.
Courtney Smith VideoClick Brandon Norton VideoClick "The best thing we ever did was go to that NIKE camp," Norton said. "That is where Rivals really discovered us, other than that no one would've known about us. Everything is gone and we are here to start over. This gives us a chance to show what we can do for some new schools now like Alabama, Auburn, UAB and some others. We're excited about it and we just want to go out and help Prattville win the state championship."Here to view this Link.Here to view this Link.