How Louisiana state champion coach creates pipeline to LSU, NFL

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Editor

If Catholic High (La.) coach Gabe Fertitta wants to check in with his former players, all he has to do is turn on the TV on Saturdays and Sundays.

In only his fourth season as head coach at Catholic High, Fertitta has established a perennial state championship contender that routinely produces Division 1 — and eventually NFL — talent. Three former Catholic High offensive players — Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Derrius Guice and Cameron Tom — have cracked NFL rosters in the last year. Catholic players are also playing all over the college ranks, including a whopping four for the defending national champion LSU Tigers.

Fertitta recently joined FNF Coaches to talk about his developmental strategy.

How are you able to develop so many players who go on to have success at the next level? Are you doing anything unique to help them get recruited?

“This summer, we hosted our own combine and filmed it. We measured and tested the kids because college coaches have not been able to attend our workouts, and our kids aren’t able to attend their camps. That was really successful. We had one kid — a sophomore — receive four or five college offers within one hour of crossing the finish line in the 40.”

Do you run a pro-style scheme? Or is there anything you do to showcase their skills on Friday nights?

“I don’t think it’s as much scheme-related specifically. As coaches, we try to put them in position to succeed, but recruiting is about measurable talent. For instance, while I think we did a magnificent job of developing Clyde (Edwards-Helaire) for LSU, and then they did a fabulous job developing him there, he’s always been that talented. You could tell from an early age. Some high-profile kids get a little more exposure here. But a big product has to do with genetics.”

Are you communicating differently with college recruiters on behalf of players this season?

“We have our own Twitter account for all recruiters. That’s solely there to promote our players to college coaches. We put videos out of them doing drills at practice. We retweet highlight videos from each week during the season. We have a Google doc from the combine event that we send to college coaches, especially in the local area. They can click on the link to a 3- to 4-minute video for each kid. On that video, we have evidence of height, weight, wingspan, broad jump, 40 and shuttle time. And then we have 45 seconds to a minute of basic drill work for each position. College coaches can see how they move. That’s been really successful.”

Is there anything else that helps players get recruited?

“The biggest thing is forming relationships. If high school coaches are truthful with college coaches that come and recruit year-in and year-out, they can develop a relationship where there’s trust. Then, if they have a kid they want a college coach to look at — for whichever level is the right fit — he’ll do it. That certainly helps. There are coaches that tell Division 1 coaches every single senior on their team is a Division 1 player every year. This is the time when those things come back to bite you. You become the boy who cries wolf. An honest evaluation is important. It’s times like this when a coach can pick up the phone and let a college coach know about a player so that he can look into it himself.”

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk