Make no mistake about it, Iverson Celestine is arguably the best running back in all of St. Tammany Parish.
The scarier thing is the Fontainebleau junior believes he can get even better.
Celestine is coming off an impressive 2018 sophomore season that saw him rush for 1,680 yards on 294 carries and 18 touchdowns, helping the Bulldogs return to the Class 5A state playoffs a season ago.
“You can see the growth in his leadership skills since he has become an upperclassman now,” Fontainebleau coach Chris Blocker said. “He has showed signs of that since he got there.”
The first big improvement Blocker pointed out about his star running back was his ability in the passing game. Last season Celestine caught 28 passes for 202 yards and a pair of scores, statistics Blocker expects to increase dramatically in 2019.
“Improving his route running and overall ability to catch the football has been a big priority for him this off-season and this spring,” Blocker said. “It’s all about getting better hands. To Iverson’s credit, he takes the time outside of practice time to constantly get better. You see the improvement each day, including in the vertical passing game.”
Celestine pointed to several things that he has improved upon heading into his junior campaign.
“It comes back down to film work,” he said. “Without proper film work you cannot correct your own mistakes. The more you watch film the more of a student of the game you will become. I want to be an educated football player. It helps more than you can possibly imagine.”
The soft-spoken Fontainebleau running back draws comparisons to former Covington High and current Utah running back Devin Brumfield, something Celestine takes as a compliment.
“My goals are simple,” he said. “I just want to be better than I was last year. I want to be a bigger threat like Coach Blocker said in the passing game as well. I feel like I have put in a lot of work in that part of the game and believe I have improved significantly.
“Getting the ball in space is going to be fun and hopefully helps us win football games. Having the ball in space one-on-one against a linebacker; I’ll take that any day instead of having to break tackles at the line of scrimmage. With Josh Bailey returning for his third year under center, I think that is going to make things a whole lot easier, too.”
Blocker echoed his star running back’s sentiments.
“His versatility mixed with Bailey’s experience now will allow us to open our offense more,” Blocker said. “Having Dwayne Bernard in the backfield filling that gap is going to help things as well. We are going to be able to dictate what defenses are doing now, or at least that is the plan. Advantage Fontainebleau.”
Putting Celestine in space is also expected to try and alleviate the eight- and nine-man fronts he is expected to see in the running game this season.
“Hopefully the wear and tear on the body will be minimalized,” he said. “It’s easier to be an athlete as opposed to ground and pound and then trying to get in space.”
The recruiting process has also begun to increase for Celestine as well. To date, he has scholarship offers form Louisiana Tech, South Alabama, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Utah and Virginia.
“I’m enjoying (the recruiting process) every step of the way,” he said. “It’s great. A lot of people don’t have the opportunity to be in the position that I am in so I’m very grateful for that. I’m counting my blessings.”