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Getting a jump on college

Louis-Jean swaps Brockton for BC

A. LOUIS-JEAN BC ‘the right place’ A. LOUIS-JEAN
BC ‘the right place’
By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / February 1, 2011

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Highlights of Albert Louis-Jean’s crushing hits and game-changing plays at Brockton High have been viewed thousands of times via the Internet. The clips are less than a minute, but in that time Louis-Jean draws audible reactions.

Louis-Jean is a 6-foot-2-inch, 180-pound cornerback whom scout.com described as “a fierce hitter who will knock the daylights out of’’ opponents. He was ranked by rivals.com as a top recruit in Massachusetts. Louis-Jean’s high school résumé attracted interest from some of the nation’s top Division 1 programs.

Schools such as Miami, Penn State, and Boston College anxiously awaited Louis-Jean’s college decision. Miami was his first choice and he verbally committed to the Hurricanes last March. What Louis-Jean didn’t see coming was the unforgiving landscape of college football.

Months after Louis-Jean committed, he was faced with another decision. Miami fired coach Randy Shannon in November after four seasons and a 7-5 record in 2010. Weeks later, Louis-Jean withdrew his non-binding commitment and decided to stay near his home and enroll at BC.

“At first when I committed, it wasn’t a hard decision, but when [Shannon] got fired, it kind of threw me off a little bit,’’ Louis-Jean said. “I was set on going to Miami and I had to open up the process again and dig for the right place and make sure it was the right place for me. When I sat down and thought about it, BC was just the right school. I slept on it and woke up the next day and I still had the same feeling. I knew right then and there it was the right place. I was at ease after that.’’

Two months ago, Louis-Jean was a high school senior. This month he is a college freshman loaded up with five classes and preparing for spring workouts in Chestnut Hill. Louis-Jean worked a few extra classes into the fall semester to earn his high school diploma, which he will receive officially with his Brockton classmates at spring graduation. In the meantime, he is focused on college.

He acknowledges he chose Miami primarily on his experience with Shannon along with the school’s academic opportunities. Louis-Jean was on a visit to Penn State when he heard Shannon had been fired.

“I was just like, ‘Wow, he just got fired?’ ’’ Louis-Jean said. “I came back and I was just waiting a little while before I made a decision. It shocked me. I wondered why they fired him because he was doing what they asked of him. Their football team was a couple of mistakes away from winning nine games.’’

Louis-Jean was not the only top recruit to withdraw his Miami commitment after Shannon was let go.

While Louis-Jean was comfortable with his decision to join the Hurricanes, he said something about BC stuck in the back of his mind. As the Hurricanes searched for Shannon’s replacement — eventually hiring Temple’s Al Golden — Louis-Jean was weighing his options.

Once Louis-Jean reopened the process, he listed the pros and cons, and knew “BC was the place,’’ he said. After a conversation with his father, Louis-Jean made the call.

“BC is a great school education-wise and then being so close to home, my family would be able to see me play,’’ Louis-Jean said. “Football would be football anywhere you go. BC is a great school and I already know some of the players and I love the campus.’’

Louis-Jean arrived at Brockton High and made an immediate impact on the freshman team. Brockton coach Peter Colombo heard about Louis-Jean, but couldn’t appreciate his ability until he saw the cornerback in action. The next season, Louis-Jean played for a varsity squad that reached the Division 1 Super Bowl. That season, he led the Boxers with five interceptions and later attended college camps.

Not long after Louis-Jean participated in a few camps, Colombo heard BC was prepared to offer Louis-Jean a scholarship.

“It was before he even played a down for us as a junior,’’ Colombo said. “It was a great thing, and I knew there would be other offers, and sure enough word got out.’’

Louis-Jean’s size and quickness were impressive. He consistently made plays as a receiver, returner, and defensive back. He finished his senior season with 60 tackles and five interceptions on defense, and added 600 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

“Normally, the people with the skills and the quickness to play cornerback tend to be smaller guys,’’ Colombo said. “Albert has the size and the quickness and speed to play the position and as receivers get bigger, defenses are countering and they want bigger people at those positions. Not a lot of players that size have the quickness to keep up with those type of players.’’

Louis-Jean looks back on his four years at Brockton fondly.

“I learned to work hard and I learned discipline as a football player,’’ he said. “[Coach Colombo] always emphasized being a student-athlete and off the field being a model football player and a good person.’’

Louis-Jean was also an honor roll student and sees himself as a role model for his younger brothers and sisters.

“I want them to see a good example of doing something positive in their life,’’ Louis-Jean said. “Whether they want to play football or be a doctor or anything, they can do something positive in their life and keep working.’’

Louis-Jean credits his parents with encouraging him to make sure he stayed on track until he reached high school. Once there, he began to take responsibility for himself.

“In elementary and junior high, they made sure I came home and did my homework before anything else I did, and they let me do it on my own,’’ Louis-Jean said.

That upbringing served Louis-Jean well.

“He was a pleasure to coach and a great kid,’’ Colombo said. “He was there every day and became a captain and carved his own niche.’’

Now Louis-Jean is balancing a major in finance with life as a college football player. As a freshman in high school, Louis-Jean said he had dreams of playing Division 1 football but didn’t know if it was a realistic goal.

“I always had dreams of it,’’ Louis-Jean said. “I always chase my dreams, but I never knew it would be reality because you never know what to expect.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.