Coach & family to tune in Early

By Steven K. Landry

ST. MARTINVILLE – Early Doucet’s mom and family won’t be watching the NFL rookie from a TV set here this Sunday, but they’ll have a pretty good view anyway.

The family will be in the stands at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, cheering on the Super Bowl-bound NFL rookie, who is a former St. Martinville Senior High and LSU Tigers standout and is now a member of the Arizona Cardinals as wide receiver.

The surprising Cardinals take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at 6 p.m. Sunday on NBC for Super Bowl XLIII.

Doucet’s mom, Caroline Durand, will be attending the game along with four other family members: sister Carla JeanBatiste and her husband, Harold, and sister Penelope Francis and Nick Francis.

“Since he was 9 or 10, he started playing basketball,” Durand said Tuesday morning. “He played three sports, eventually. I’m glad of my child, and very proud. I always did tell him that when he signed his name on the dotted line, he’d be committed to the end.”

The family will begin its 11-hour journey to Tampa this Thursday evening. This past Monday, with her brother flying across country to Florida for Sunday’s game, JeanBatiste – who is 15 years older than her 23-year-old little brother – said she had a big hand in raising him.

“He was like my little baby,” JeanBatiste said, laughing. “When he was little we bought him a basketball goal and every morning at 6 o’clock before school he’d be practicing. Then he wanted to play basketball and football, and then track. He always played sports. He was able to transfer his skills in one area to other sports. And he also even tried to play baseball, but that conflicted with the others.”

Also watching this Sunday (from his home) will be Doucet’s former coach, Carroll Delahoussaye, now the athletic director at SMSH. Delahoussaye said Doucet was a go-to guy during his SMSH years.

“His style of quarterback is more of a running threat,” the coach said. “And he’s only 6-foot, so he knew from the get-go that if he wanted to play in the NFL it would be as a receiver.” Delahoussaye said as long as he touched the ball, the SMSH Tigers were OK.

“In high school, we needed him at the quarterback position because we wanted him to touch the ball on every play,” Delahoussaye said. “When he was receiver, most of the time we threw him the ball it was a completion. In fact, he left high school rated as the number-one receiver in the country. He was also ranked the number-four basketball player as an eighth-grader. He was 5-foot-11 back then and he could dunk it.”

After LSU’s championship season in 2007, Doucet became the 81st pick overall in the NFL draft. Though kind of short for professional wide-receiver standards, Doucet uses his incredible vertical-jumping ability to snag passes. But Doucet, who played just about every down in high school and into college, is a little disappointed that he isn’t playing more often in the NFL, said Delahoussaye, who speaks to his former player just about every week during the season. Doucet caught 14 passes this past year for 90 yards. “But that’s just Early,” the coach said. “He just wants to play.”

“Oh, yes, he loves to play,” mom Caroline said. “He don’t like to watch. If you go that far you want to play. But it doesn’t matter to me. I’m just proud of my son.”

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