John Diarse has been on the radar of folks who cover recruiting and/or high school football in Louisiana for several years now. But why? John Diarse does not have prototypical size for a star receiver. Nobody is going to mistake him for Michael Clayton or Dwayne Bowe anytime soon. LSU lists Diarse as 6'1" 205 pounds. He's also not blazing fast. He's a 4.6 guy who is not going to beat SEC corners down the sidelines on go routes or turn short catches into huge gains. So why all the fuss?
Yes, it's cliché, but John Diarse is a "play maker." From the moment he stepped onto the field as a high school freshman, Diarse excelled and made huge plays in big games. In the state championship game against Franklinton, Diarse hauled in touchdowns of 58 and 95 yards and added an interception for good measure. As a freshman! The following year, Neville wanted the ball in Diarse's hands as much as possible so, he took over as quarterback where he remained for the rest of his career. He would go on to lead his team back to the state championship game as a junior and a senior. The number of big plays he turned in from the quarterback position is too high to count.
Diarse is a guy that won't be overwhelmed by playing in big games or by playing as a freshman, if needed. I expect leadership to come naturally for Diarse too when the time is right. Being a leader is all he knows. He is a high character guy with a strong work ethic, and those types of players tend to work out and contribute at a pretty high rate.
Diarse isn't totally new to playing receiver. He did play there as a high school freshman and occasionally split out wide as an upperclassmen. He has also worked out as a receiver on the camp circuit for the last few summers. At the U.S. Army All American Game in January, he played receiver and was mentioned as one of the best at the event. So while he may have a bit of a learning curve, it's not as steep as you might think. Diarse makes his hay by running precise routes, having excellent hands, and using his strong lower body to work the middle of the field and excel after the catch. His legs look like they belong on a running back, and that gives him excellent balance and the ability to cut on a dime.
Sound familiar? It should. LSU has had a lot of success over the past 12 years with similar guys. Josh Reed, Early Doucet and Jarvis Landry all come to mind. Diarse may not ever be a home run threat, but he projects as a guy that you will look to on third downs to move the chains.
Diarse also offers some versatility. Some believe that his best position in college may be safety.
John Diarse (2013 ATH) Sophomore Highlights - Elite Scouting (via Charles Fishbein)
#13 QB John Diarse Senior Highlights (via lascouting)
Diarse's highlights are littered with him making throws from the quarterback position, but we still see plenty of evidence of his talents that make him a nice receiver prospect.
In the first video, check the play at the 1:13 mark. Diarse scores on a keeper on the zone-read play but makes a few very sharp cuts and explodes out of each one. That's the kind of balance and ability that gets Diarse open as a receiver, especially when working out of the slot in the middle of the field.
The play at the 1:30 mark shows off Diarse's toughness and ability to make plays after the catch. Again, he doesn't have jets that he can turn on and run away from defenders, but he runs like a running back, blowing through arm tackles and showing off some nice vision to turn what should have been a short gain into a long touchdown.
In the second video, which shows highlights from Diarse's senior season, you've got several good examples starting at the 2:30 mark, but one that stands out starts at 3:20. It's only about an 18 yard gain, but Diarse again shows off excellent balance, strength and cutting ability.
I wish we had some more highlights of Diarse actually catching the football.....but we don't.
Where does Diarse fit right away? He's certainly good enough to make an impact in 2013 but barring any injuries, I suspect his contribution will be minimal. Diarse graduated high school early and is already at LSU and participating in spring drills. I think that helps gets him on the field in 2013. Ultimately, I see him as a guy to fill Jarvis Landry's role as a slot receiver that works the middle of the field and gobbles up receptions.
High End: Two or three year starter and all-conference selection with approximately 60 receptions/year as starter.
Low End: Contributor and spot starter as upperclassmen
Realistic: I think Diarse starts for one or two years as an upperclassman and is a big contributor, though does not ever reach All-SEC status.