Updated: Jun 30, 2021
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
35 TOTAL TACKLES (24 SOLO)
(0.5 INTs PER GAME)
54 TOTAL TACKLES (44 SOLO)
1 INT TD RET (vs Destrehan)
When a young DB steals 11 interceptions during two seasons at the pinnacle of Louisiana high school football, capturing an undefeated state title while posting a 23-3 record, becoming a key part of a historic secondary which picked off 46 passes over two years, displaying all around ball hawking skills, undeniable grit, as well as renegade versatility, and yet somehow that young man has zero offers with no contact from coaches of any collegiate division, you have to wonder:
Such is the curious case of 2021 St James free safety J'Kory Ester, an absolute ball-hunting, tackle-crazed DB with 5+ interceptions in back to back years, an undying competitive pulse, and like many young Louisiananimals, an inescapable LSU dream.
Starting two seasons at St James before his 2021 graduation, J'kory recorded 89 tackles, 11 interceptions, 7 PDs, 1 FF, 1 INT returned 90 yards for a touchdown, a pair of multi-INT outings (including his St James debut) a trio of gritty postseason INTs to his name, three games with 9 tackles, all headlined by a masterful INT (on a broken hand) during the 2019 title game victory over Jennings.....is this enough evidence of Ester's potential and production?
Make no mistake, the versatile St James DB has flown under the radar for far too long.
But like many other 2021 recruits from last year's cycle, the Covid 19 pandemic and its resulting shut down made experiences like the party atmosphere of LSU's recent camps, the candidness of face to face meetings, or clarity of in person workouts impossible.
Much like his fellow teammate, St James DB mastermind Joel Cooper or Atkins High's speed demon Kreed Stubbs, in 2020, the chances were limited at best for no-nonsense athletes like J'Kory Ester's performances or tape to reach a division I staff.
Due to the pandemic, a player's social media presence and mass appeal guided many coaching decisions throughout the camp-less / visit-less 2021 cycle.
As coaches desperately went through Hudl footage or checked out Hayes Fawcett's new edits for any reliable clues concerning a certain 5 star's "new top 13 list", scores of great young players fell by the wayside as many programs failed to accurately evaluate the cycle's abundant talent.
If a recruit didn't find themselves on Rivals or Geaux 247's home page, they were forgotten amidst the waves of "must see" 5 stars. Even current Tiger Jack Bech experienced limited visibility until after his Vanderbilt offer / commitment.
However, unlike some disenfranchised recruits (or their parents) who've blamed the pandemic, lack of camps, lazy coaches or a one-sided political / recruiting service-guided process for their current situation, J'kory refuses to blame outside elements for his lack of offers, instead taking his own rare appearances at 2019 camps to task, as well as pointing to his prior overall lack of self promotion.
Somehow, his unbelievable record on the field couldn't make it happen thus far, but what if J'kory was finally given a platform to speak?
What if the college football world finally met J'kory Ester?
LONN: J'kory, what's up, you know I have mad love for your Head Coach Robert Valdez.... and I know you were apart of a secondary that just takes the ball away man....nonstop....46 picks, 20+ each year you started: what made that secondary so special??
J'KORY: What the defense brought to the table as a whole and our ability to get to the ball as fast as we did, that's what made us so special.
LONN: You had 11 interceptions over two seasons!!! ELEVEN! I am looking everywhere to find a high school DB who caught as many INTs and I'm struggling to find any other than your teammate Joel Cooper, specifically there are no top ranked DBs who hauled in that many.
J'KORY: 11 is a pretty decent number...
LONN: J'Kory....that's outrageous. You had 5 one year, 6 the other and helped St. James to an undefeated 2019 state championship:
So...Why have schools overlooked you so harshly???
J'KORY: That's a good question that I don't know the answer to. The notoriety just wasn't there.
LONN: Have LSU been in contact at all? I'd think Daronte Jones or Corey Raymond would love to grab a ball hawk of your talents.
J'KORY: I agree, but no not at all. I haven't been contacted by any coach throughout my two years of playing high school ball.
LONN: Not a single coach??? I find that extremely hard to believe. I believe you, though...but wow....that gets to me....I'm baffled. So you've never had any scouts watching you?
J'KORY: Nah, not that I know of. No big deal though, another thing was the recruitment of the 2021 class was effected by Covid the most.
LONN: Of course, but no excuses for them not to jump on you now! Which players did you love going up against on Friday nights in Louisiana high school football?
J'KORY: I enjoyed going against Kyle Edwards, Trevor Etienne and Trey Holly from Union Parish. They gave me competition. Trevor got me, too, one play.
LONN: As a free safety, you love the aggressive part of the game, right?
J'KORY: I love to tackle.
LONN: What do you love most about tackling?
J'KORY: I just love the contact.
LONN: Who was the hardest player to tackle this last year?
J'KORY: Trey Holly (laughs).
LONN: Who have you modeled your game after most?
J'KORY: I study mostly Jalen Ramsey and Tyrann Mathieu.
LONN: What about Tyrann Mathieu's game have you taken into your own? And Jalen Ramsey, see... I knew you watched a corner a bunch cause you can move like one at Free safety.
J'KORY: Yea Ramsey my dude, been watching him since Florida State be official, but Mathieu have that dawg in him, (laughs) he don't care.
LONN: You were a big part of St James' title-winning season in 2019, an undefeated run where your defense put up historic numbers, including 26 interceptions. You caught 6 of 'em.
What was your favorite moment of that 2019 run?
J'KORY: I'd say my first game.
LONN: What made it so special? Just being your St. James debut?
J'KORY: Yeah and the first 2 interception game of my career.
LONN: Wait a minute...you had 2 interceptions in your first ever St. James appearance? Damn....
J'KORY: Junior year was my first year playing, but yeah....I did catch two my first game.
LONN: What was it like playing for Coach Valdez?
J'KORY: He's a great man! Not bad at all!
LONN: What has it been like seeing these other cats, even teammates of yours, getting that attention while you're out there showing out?
J'KORY: It's great, while they do their thing, I'm doing my thing on the field.
LONN: What are your feelings towards the 2019 team, guys like Saivion, Shazz or your now former Coach Valdez?
J'KORY: For Savion and Shazz, man they got it, they just need to stay prayed up and stay focused. Wish them boys and Coach Val the best in the near future.
LONN: What schools are crossing your mind most?
J'KORY: I'm open to any Division I school in Louisiana.
LONN: You're definitely looking to stay home, right?
J'KORY: Yes sir, for the most part.
LONN: Is LSU the ultimate goal, as far as college?
J'KORY: Them & Louisiana Tech....LSU has always been top of the list.
LONN: Looking into the future, where do you think you'll be in a year from today?
J'KORY: At an SEC school, hopefully.
LONN: I have to ask the question, why do you think there have been no offers? There's no 'off the field questions' that type of thing?
J'KORY: With the offers bro, if I would've took the right process, like going to camps, telling my coaches I want to go here and there, I would probably have offers.
I thought as I balled and put up the stats, that they would just come flying in, but nah, it don't work like that.
It's a system bro, coaches have many other athletes who's on their boards going to multiple camps putting their names out there. That's where I believe I messed up at. Same as for Coop (St James CB Joel Cooper). Lack of promotion, that's all.
LONN: That was what I was thinking, too, but there's still time. I heard Coach Ed Orgeron recently said "camps are the best place" for a young man like you to grab an offer. As a 2021 recruit, what is your next move?
J'KORY: I was at the last LSU camps. I met Coach O.
LONN: Nice! That's a huge step! So now they've got recent film on you, too?
J'KORY: Yessir! Next move tho, just training with my brother, who's getting me right, and trying to get stronger and faster, then I'll be walking on to a school.
LONN: What place do you have a vibe about? Like scholarship offer or walk on, "this is the place" kind of feeling?
J'KORY: LSU bro, no lie.
LONN: What does LSU mean to you?
J'KORY: LSU means a lot to me, its a place where these young student athletes' dreams come true. There is an opportunity there on both sides of the ball.
Educational wise and a chance to compete on the professional level.
So yea, it means a lot to me but it also can mean a lot to my family because of its benefits.
I feel like LSU is home.
LSU is that school that can put 30-20 pounds on me.
Get me to become faster, stronger, and run a 4.4 flat again...allowing me to grow into my full potential.
I'm just a baller bro, we both know LSU is known for these big athletes, but I'm different bro. Something like Tyrann Mathieu when I'm on the field.
That mentality comes out, them baller instincts click.
I won a championship with my brothers, broke my hand in the semi finals game. So, I played with a broken hand in the playoffs and championship game. Senior season was decent. Over this time looking back, bro there's still another side of me that nobody has every seen.
My time just started, 0 offers bro?
It's personal now.
I have to prove them wrong now.
When I met Coach O at the camp, I was putting on a shirt right outside the equipment room.
It's crazy like he came to me and shook my hand like he knew me, that was a cool lil' experience.
But the LSU camp was the first camp i ever attended. I haven't moved like that since last November. So, I'm 7 months rusty at the LSU camp competing with these DBs and WRs who've been working on their skills, all day...everyday.
But yea bro, that just showed me I'm built different from others and that I need to lock in for real for real if I want to feed my Mom, two brothers and six sisters.
From that day of camp, I told myself 'I'm on a business trip from now on bro'.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc