Nelson and London nominated for Warrick Dunn Award

Kyle Riviere
Jimel London had 14 total touchdowns and three interceptions this past season. Photos by Kyle Riviere.

St. Amant’s Cade Nelson and East Ascension’s Jimel London have been on almost every postseason football team that has been released, due to their spectacular 2017 senior years.

However, the honor and recognition wasn’t done just yet.

Last night, the duo again achieved special recognition as they were two of the eight nominees for the prestigious 2017 Warrick Dunn Award, named after the Louisiana football legend.

Dunn’s amazing journey is well known across the state.

Dunn’s mother, the late Betty Smothers, was a single parent working as a Baton Rouge Police officer while he was still a student at Catholic High of Baton Rouge.

One late night, Smothers was shot and killed in the line of duty. As painful as it was for Dunn, he never let his mother’s loss break him.

Instead, he made it his mission to strive for greatness, honor her memory and make her proud.

After a heralded high-school career at Catholic, he went on to become the all-time rushing leader at Florida State. In his four years there, the Seminoles won a national title, and Dunn finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1996.

He went on to become a first-round draft pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1997. In his 12-year professional career, he played for both the Bucs and the Atlanta Falcons.

In that time, he rushed for nearly 11,000 yards and 49 touchdowns. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and the 1997 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Dunn is also known for the amazing work he has done off of the field. He started his Homes for the Holidays program that provides single working mothers with brand new furnished homes in Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Tallahassee and Tampa. This was instrumental in Dunn being named the 2004 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

The Warrick Dunn Award has now been around for 11 years and goes to high-school players that have been great on the field, but also exhibit the intangibles like character, selflessness and sportsmanship that Dunn possessed throughout his career.

Past winners include former LSU Tigers Terrence Magee and Kendell Beckwith and current Tiger Nick Brossette.

This year’s nominees were Nelson, London, Scotlandville’s Kelvin Joseph, West Feliciana’s Davon Harris, Derek Turner and Derius Davis, Dunham’s Mike Williams and Riverside’s Jordan Loving.

Nelson was the driving force of St. Amant’s offense throughout 2017. In their 9-1 run that yielded a share of the District 5-5A title and a berth in the second round of the playoffs, he rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 26 touchdowns.

“I love the way he plays football, I love the way he attacks his schoolwork, I love the leader he was,” Gator head coach David Oliver said.

Nelson not only made all-district, All-Parish, All-Metro and All-State, but he also made the Composite All-Academic team. To be eligible for this team, you must have a 4.0 GPA.

“You’re talking about a tremendous student that has a bright future. The job that he did setting the tone for our football team off of the field started with that,” Oliver said.

Nelson was the Parish Offensive MVP, and he shared the District 5-5A Offensive MVP with London.

East Ascension had a terrific turnaround in 2017, that saw them go from 3-6 to 8-2. They shared the district championship with St. Amant and reached the second round of the playoffs.

In just his second year playing football, London was a driving force behind that Spartan run. He did everything for his team.

As a running back, he was East Ascension’s leading rusher as he chewed up more than 900 yards and 12 touchdowns. In doing so, he averaged a remarkable 14 yards per carry.

Defensively, he was the Spartans’ top defensive back. He came up with three interceptions during the year.

On special teams, he had two return touchdowns.

Head coach Darnell Lee said of London, “I’m not a fan of a player, but I love watching him play,”

Along with being the Co-Offensive MVP in District 5-5A, London made the All-Parish first team in three different capacities—as an offensive athlete, defensive back and return specialist.

London also made the All-Metro and All-State teams.

Davon Harris ended up taking home the award on Monday night.