Brian Kelly receives high marks from Louisiana HS coaches: 'I think it's been a home run so far'
Brian Kelly has made a point to reach out to high school coaches around the state of Louisiana, and so far, those coaches are giving him high marks.
In interviews with ESPN’s Pete Thamel, Nelson Stewart of Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, and others who said Kelly’s first impressions have been positive.
“I think it’s been a home run so far,” said Nelson Stewart, the veteran coach of Isidore Newman School in New Orleans. He acknowledged the chatter about cultural differences and chuckled. “When Coach Saban came from Michigan State, you heard a lot of the same rumblings. That went away pretty quick.”
Louisiana online sports betting is officially live in much of the state. Louisiana joined the handful of other SEC football states with legalized sports betting in January 2022.
The high school coaches also appreciated Kelly’s hire of Frank Wilson, a former high school coach in the state and well-respected assistant, known for recruiting.
“No coach has come through and made as strong of an impression as Brian Kelly,” Stewart said, comparing him to prior LSU coaches. “He has a humility and authenticity when you meet him. You feel like you’ve known him forever.”
The same can be said at Ednar Karr, where veteran coach Brice Brown estimated that 70 percent of his players with LSU offers have gone there in his 17 seasons. Brown complimented Kelly for coming to visit for multiple hours soon after he got hired. Brown also pointed out that Wilson’s hire brought instant credibility.
“He’s so well respected in the state,” Brown said of Wilson, who was a successful high school coach in New Orleans and is in his second stint at LSU. “The relationships he has are going to carry him a very long way [like they did] in the early part of 2010, 2011 and 2012 when LSU was dominant in recruiting.”
In northern Louisiana, the prized recruit is Zalance Heard, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive tackle with offers from schools such as Texas and Michigan. Neville High School coach Jeff Tannehill said that Kelly and offensive line coach Brad Davis are doing an “outstanding job” in their communication and outreach.