CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – As an underclassman, Rakavian Poydras had a chance to bask in the spotlight that was directed at former Northeast High teammates Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Montrell Pardue and Warwick Marsh.
While college football programs lauded over the latter three football players during those annual recruiting wars, Poydras often caught a glancing eye from those who took quick note of his skill set.
Those early looks have developed into Poydras securing an opportunity to continue his football career after the Clarksville High star committed to play football at the University of Memphis last week.
“He’s not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination,” Clarksville High coach Isaac Shelby said. “He’s a quick-twitch athlete and he’s big, strong, athletic with a big wingspan and colleges see the potential in him. But Rakavian is also still raw and has a lot to learn. This opportunity for him is huge because he’ll get a chance to develop at a high level.”
For the 6-foot-3, 260-pound offensive and defensive lineman, committing to Memphis was an easy decision.
“I really developed a great relationship with the coaching staff,” he said. “Not only did they keep in contact with me but they came to see me in Clarksville. They let me know that I was a priority for them and I felt wanted. That was a big deal for me.”
Poydras watched as some of the biggest college football programs aggressively recruited Reeves-Maybin, who eventually signed with Tennessee and is the starting linebacker for the Vols. He also watched as one of his mentors in Marsh originally sign with Murray State before settling at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. Marsh is now heading to Boise State to play football.
Through those experiences, Poydras learned quickly just how the recruiting process works and how fast the offers can come pouring in. He received offers from Austin Peay, Tennessee State, Murray State, Samford and Middle Tennessee State.
“I really liked MTSU,” Poydras said. “They showed a ton of interest in me and I really respect the coaching staff down in Murfreesboro.”
But Poydras pointed to a resurgence in Tigers football last year as a major factor in his decision to commit.
Memphis finished 10-3 in 2014 with a defense that ranked 11th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in points allowed, and was co-champ of the American Athletic Conference. The Tigers captured the Miami Beach Bowl, beating BYU 55-48 in double overtime.
And Memphis is set to build a new $15 million indoor football practice facility.
“You look at that team and how they played last year and their facilities, and it was an easy decision,” Poydras said. “They finished in the Top 25 at the end of the season and shows you that they are on the rise.”
Memphis returns eight offensive players this fall as well as three on defense. Poydras said the coaching staff will most likely use him on the defensive line.
“Maybe nose tackle,” he said. “I’m not sure exactly, but I know they talked about me playing some nose so we’ll see.”
Poydras transfered to Clarksville High last year just as Shelby made the transition from Northeast to CHS. He’s been a starter for Shelby since he was a freshman. During his two years with the Eagles, Poydras helped Northeast to a 17-10 record, including a Class 5A state quarterfinal finish as a freshman in 2012 and a state semifinal berth as a sophomore in 2013. Last year, Clarksville High finished 5-6 after losing in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
“When he was at Northeast, he was a three-sport star,” Shelby said. “He played football, basketball and baseball. That sort of shows the kind of athlete he is. Memphis is getting a kid who has tremendous up-side and could develop into a great one.”
George Robinson. Prep writer. 245-0747. firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Cville_Sports.