Video: Evacuees & football

NBC News
By Ron Allen Correspondent
updated 9/19/2005 10:05:38 AM ET 2005-09-19T14:05:38

Jyrell Gaddies, a defensive back, is six-foot-one, 170 pounds, his twin brother, Tyrell, looks nothing like him.  He's six-three, 230, a bruising tight end. But that's just one unusual thing about these two high school student athletes.  They're also evacuees from a poor area of New Orleans, getting their first taste of big-time Texas football.

It's almost as if they're stars in a remake of "Friday Night Lights," the film about a football-mad Texas town and its underdog high school team.

The Gaddies just happened to settle near Eisenhower High, a school that's produced pros like Dante Hall of the Kansas City Chiefs.  At their old school, the Gaddies used to be happy if a few hundred fans showed up.  At Eisenhower, crowds of 12,000 pack the stadium.

"You know, they gave us new helmets," said Jyrell Gaddies, "I got me a new visor to go with it. These uniforms are hot."

Texas high school football is big business.  And there are probably now about 150 top high school athletes from Louisiana who evacuated here.  Some schools apparently are bending the rules to recruit them.

According to sportswriter John Lopez, some coaches even have prowled the shelters looking for recruits.

"That's just glorified looting," Lopez said.  "The waters weren't even finished rising yet in New Orleans when guys were on the phone, as I understand it, talking about which players are going where."

Back at Eisenhower, the twins have another problem.  The team lost its first three games. Both have even bigger dreams.

"I want to be a Texas Longhorn," Tyrell Gaddes said. "I love that college."

So much for Louisiana State University's Tigers.  The twins hope to make their mark on Texas football's big stage.

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