Notre Dame trio ink National Letters of Intent

BY CHRIS QUEBEDEAUX

SPORTS EDITOR

CROWLEY – Notre Dame seniors D.J. Welter, Jacob Molbert and Hunter Stover wrapped up their prep football careers on high notes in 2009, helping lead the Pioneers to a perfect 15-0 record and their first Class 3A state title in nine years with a 14-7 victory over the Parkview Baptist Eagles on the floor of the Louisiana Superdome.

The trio was a force to be reckoned with on the defensive side of the ball all season long and even more so in the championship game when they combined for 20 tackles against the Eagles’ potent triple-option attack.

Now, the three will take their talents to the next level after signing National Letters of Intent to play Division I football Wednesday morning.

Wednesday was the first day high school seniors were permitted to sign binding letters of intent.

Welter, one of the state’s top-ranked recruits, will reunite with former Pioneer standout Seth Fruge at LSU while Molbert and Stover both signed letters with the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns .

“This is the first time we have ever had three signees in one year,” said Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook. “In 2004, we had J.T. (Casanova) going to McNeese and David Berkin going to Rice, so this is only the second time in the 13 years that I’ve been here that we have had more than one.

“And there hadn’t been many years that we’ve even had one.”

Welter headlines the group with his commitment to LSU. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker gave a verbal commitment to the Tigers following his junior season in which he totaled 128 tackles and interception.

“It feels good to finally have it on paper, sent in and have it official,” said Welter of signing his National Letter of Intent. “Now it’s just getting over there, working hard and experiencing everything that I’ve been waiting for every since I was a little kid.”

Welter earned numerous accolades during his career at Notre Dame. In his senior year alone, he was named the Defensive MVP on the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class AAA All-State team as well as being named to the Louisiana Football Coaches Association All-State team. He also earned MVP honors on the District 5-3A unit and the All-Acadia Parish team.

In addition, Welter was a Butkus Award nominee and was named to the Maxpreps All-American team.

“I think one of D.J.’s biggest assets is that he can run,” said Cook of Welter. “He’s a 4.55 guy and was probably one of the fastest on our team. At 220 pounds, that really sets him apart from a lot of other guys.

“We’ve had a lot of good linebackers come through here, but they either just didn’t have the size or the speed. D.J. is a combination of all of it. He’s got size and speed, he’s a hard worker and the guy is a tenacious player.”

Welter was also courted by SEC rival Alabama , Big 10 contender Northwestern and Big 12 power Missouri. However, once LSU came into the picture, his decision was a no-brainer.

“Once LSU made the offer, it was a done deal,” said Welter.

Joining Fruge at LSU in the fall is also a plus for Welter, who finished his senior campaign with 144 total tackles (90 solo, 54 assists), four sacks, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick.

“I go visit Seth every now and then and he has been showing me the ropes so I kind of have a mentor over there,” said Welter. “He’s been letting me know how everything goes and showing me how to handle stuff so that’s been a big help.”

Molbert’s decision was also fairly simple considering he has been a life-long Ragin’ Cajun fan.

“This is definitely where I’ve always wanted to go,” said Molbert, who grew up attending UL-Lafayette games with his father. “I’m just excited and ready to go contribute to UL and be a Ragin Cajun.”

Molbert, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound defensive end, chose ULL over UL-Monroe, Northwestern State, McNeese and Missouri State .

“UL is close to home and you have your family behind you and everything,” said Molbert of his decision. “And with me going there, I know I can help the team out a little bit so that’s one of the main reasons I chose to go there.”

Molbert, who was Notre Dame’s 2008 MVP in the Pios’ state championship loss to Lutcher, finished the 2009 season with 107 tackles and eight sacks. He was named to the Class AAA All-State team as well as the All-District and All-Acadia Parish teams his senior year.

“Jacob is a guy who has been the most intense, disruptive player on the defensive line that I have been around,” said Cook. “He’s probably got the quickest move off the ball that I’ve ever coached. He reacts so fast to the snap and that was his biggest asset. He’s just a tenacious player. He never quits, he’s just relentless.

“He plays every play with such intensity that it led to him having the most sacks that we’ve had in a while and the most caught plays behind the line of scrimmage. Being that quick off the ball enabled him to have the ability to have the athleticism that he has. It just made him a complete player.”

Stover will be Molbert’s roommate at ULL and will have the chance to earn early playing time as a kicker. He also hopes to earn a spot at linebacker with the Cajuns, a position that he started the last two years for the Pios.

“You usually don’t get a chance to play two positions in college but I will have the opportunity to do both so that definitely factored into my decision,” said Stover.

Stover (6-0, 210) handled the Pios kicking duties the last two years with nearly 90 percent of his kickoffs sailing into the end zone for touchbacks. He was named to the 5-3A All-District team as a kicker and linebacker as a junior and senior and also made the All-Acadia Parish team both years.

“They (ULL) definitely want him to kick,” said Cook of Stover. “But he will also have a chance to play either as a strong safety or outside linebacker.”

At linebacker in 2009, Stover logged 74 tackles, five sacks, one interception and one blocked punt.

“Hunter, first of all, is a football player,” said Cook. “He’s got great instincts, he’s tough and he runs well. I think he has an excellent chance to play outside linebacker or strong safety for them.

“Then of course, his kicking ability, he’s got a leg that is just unbelievable. To play full time at a position and then turn around and kick as many kicks as he did into the end zone, it’s amazing. He can go right now and be able to help them as a kicker.”

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