TigerDetails - A'shaad Clayton, Sedrick Van Pran hope to take 10-year bond to same college
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A'shaad Clayton, Sedrick Van Pran hope to take 10-year bond to same college

New Orleans — A'shaad Clayton and Sedrick Van Pran remember worrying as youth park ball teammates that they might end up at separate high schools.

Now, after three more years of on-field and off-field bonding, the Warren Easton stars have not been shy about their desire to remain together for college, too.

"We've always stuck together. He's there when I need him, and I'm there when he needs me ... I pray that we can stick together in the future," said Clayton, who has posted as much on Twitter. "Going to the same college would be a blessing for the both of us. Some stuff, I just can't do without him. That's the best lineman I've ever run behind."

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Van Pran, known as "Burgah," rests his arm around the shoulders of the 6-foot, 190-pound "Shaadie," who's leaned in with a brotherly comfort of a decade attached at the hips.

Because of their size for their age, Clayton and Van Pran actually both played in the trenches at Easton Park.

But their differing personalities caught one another's attention.

"When we were in park ball, he was a little goofy," Clayton remembers. "He always just felt like he was everybody's daddy in park ball, just trying to make sure we're straight. He's a real humble dude. He's got good grades. If I call him anytime of the day, if I need him, I know he's gonna answer the phone. I know he's gonna be there. That's just the kind of relationship we've got."

On the flip side, "This guy is very unpredictable," Van Pran says. "Sometimes he's very chill. Sometimes, you know, he may feel like he needs to have a little fun. And, for me, it's good, I feel, with opposites attract. More of the time, I'm more of the more calm and making sure I do the right thing a lot, but he balances me out to make sure I'm not just a complete square, some people would say. So I think opposites attract, and we've learned a lot from each other."

The longtime friends have watched out for one another throughout their teenage years.

Perhaps no instance was more obvious from the outside than Van Pran dragging Clayton and 5 yards through a scrum of defenders this past December in the Class 4A state championship game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

"I just was running, and I was prepared to fall on the ground, and next thing I know, I'm just—," Clayton jokes, mimicking being carried forward.

But Van Pran has helped keep Clayton focused, while Clayton reminds Van Pran to have some fun along the way, too.

And the duo has developed into Louisiana's top-rated prospects at their respective positions in the process.

"It's just crazy to see how far we've come together," Van Pran says. "Because honestly, I don't know if he has, but I've never thought about it as, you know, 'I'm gonna be this guy,' or 'I'm gonna be this and that.' It was more or less I was just playing the game because I love it."

Adds Clayton: "Being the top dogs in park ball, we didn't know it was gonna translate to high school. It started freshman year when we came in. Everybody was saying we were the best freshman in the state. But in park ball, we never really thought of that. In park ball, we didn't even know we were gonna come to the same high school, but God blessed us. And, like he said, ever since we came to high school, that made us tighter.

"And he's on my ass 24-7. So if I wanted to do something (ill-advised), I can't do it because I know he'll be on me and get in my face and get on me about it. But, yeah, being with him is amazing. Same park, same high school, and same college would be nice."

The potential of another three, four or five years together has been exciting enough for Clayton to actually rush to announce recent Arkansas and Kentucky offers for Van Pran.

"A lot of the times when me and Shaad talk to the coaches , we're usually together. If one coach wants to talk to me, more than likely they're gonna call him down, too... So (Arkansas) announced to me that I received the offer. So, of course, A'shaad being A'shaad, he's very spontaneous. He decides, 'Well, I'll put it on Twitter first before you can,' and it became a running joke.

"And, you know, I'm actually cool with it, because at the end of the day this is family, so I take it all as a joke. It's not like he's trying to steal my thunder as some people may think. But I did tell him I had to even the score, so just be on the look out for that."

The Razorbacks and Wildcats are among the first colleges to offer both Eagles' stars.

An LSU offer to Van Pran and Alabama offer to Clayton recently added the SEC West rivals to a list that also includes Tulane, Kansas, Georgia and Auburn.

Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, Ole Miss, Tennessee, South Alabama and Texas State have each offered Van Pran, with Clayton's invitation likely to follow.

Clayton has meanwhile led the way with Texas-San Antonio, Texas, Nebraska, Georgia Tech and Western Kentucky, with Van Pran still waiting.

"This man's so impatient," Clayton laughs. "I got LSU my freshman year going into my sophomore year. Ever since then, we've been going up to LSU and going to the games and stuff like that, and he would just be like, 'I don't know why I'm going. They ain't gonna offer me. Yadda, yadda, yadda.' He just kept saying that for the past two years. And I'm like, 'They're gonna offer you. Stay patient. Yadda, yadda, yadda.' And when they offered him, coach (Ed Orgeron) said, 'Do you and Sedrick wanna be teammates?' And I was like, 'Yeah!'"

Van Pran interjects, "Definitely," as Clayton adds, "And he could say the same thing about me with Alabama... I was actually more impatient than he was."

Clayton and Van Pran talk often about the recruiting process, saying they constantly weigh their college options with one another.

Sticking together will clearly be a factor.

"Every day, every day," Clayton says. "I think this recruiting process, for me and him, I wouldn't say it's breaking us down. But we have a majority of the same offers, but he has more different offers than I have, so it's hard knowing that he can go to another school and that if I do go to a different school from him, I'm gonna have to develop a whole new relationship with offensive linemen that I'm just meeting. I think that's what's really hard. If we were to separate, Signing Day next year would be really emotional."

They leave the possibility open that they could ultimately land apart, if other circumstances were to dictate that outcome.

But each mounting opportunity increases the potential for Clayton and Van Pran to keep excelling together at the college level.

Either way, the distance wouldn't diminish the bond that began a few blocks away at Easton Park.

"We do have a lot of the same offers, and I really do hope that the Lord blesses us to be able to play with each other," Van Pran says. "But if we were to have to go our separate ways, there wouldn't be a week — I won't say a day because some things may happen — where I wouldn't contact A'shaad and say, 'Hey how you doing out there? You fine?' Because at the end of the day, this is family. This is a brother.

"Even the girls we talk to, we treat them as family. If you're A'shaad's girlfriend, you're family to us. That's just how we look at things. So, even if things don't end up working out and we don't end up going to the same school — which I really hope we do — it's still all love."