Photo by Robert Smith

By Robert Wilson

       Mississippi’s loss to Louisiana’s gain.

       Madison St. Joseph quarterback Emile Picarella – rated the No. 9 pro-style quarterback in the country in the Class of 2025 by – has transferred to University Lab School in Baton Rouge, according to his father, Dr. Emile Picarella.

       Picarella has his first workout with his new team this morning, his father said.

       Said Picarella: “We are excited about the opportunity for him.”

       The 6-foot-2, 203-pound Picarella has offers from 11 Division I schools, including three SEC teams, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Kentucky. The others are Florida State, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Oregon, Houston, Tulsa, Akron and Texas A&M-Commerce.

       Picarella completed 155 of 241 passes (62.7 percent) for 2,160 yards and 20 touchdowns for 6-6 St. Joe last season.

As a freshman, Picarella completed 141 of 231 passes (61.0 percent) for 2,216 yards and 21 TDs and only six interceptions in 11 games for 4-7 St. Joe two years ago.

       Private quarterback coach Wyatt Davis has been working with Picarella for the past three years.

       “It’s rewarding to see a guy who continues to grow over the years,” Davis said. “Some things Emile has made a jump with is being more efficient with his footwork and anticipating throws in zones in defenses. His release and arm ability makes him special. There’s no doubt Emile will be a national recruit in the 2025 class. He’s very talented and checks every box. Emile’s a grinder and loves the game.”

       University Lab has a rich winning tradition in football, winning three state championships with three undefeated records in the past six seasons and reached the semifinals in the other three. The Cubs finished 9-4 last season and ended the high school career of Newman’s Arch Manning – rated the No. 1 recruit in the country and grandson of Archie Manning – with a 49-13 win in the quarterfinals. University Lab limited Manning to only 96 passing yards and intercepted him twice, the only interceptions he had all season.

       The Cubs return four of its top seven players, including Seth Hale and Keylan Moses, who scored two TDs each against Newman. Quarterback Blake Abney graduated this spring. Their top player, linebacker Jaiden Ausberry, signed with Notre Dame.

       St. Joe hasn’t had a winning season since 2017 and has had only two winning seasons in the past nine seasons. St. Joe will move up from MAIS Class 5A to Class 6A this season, replacing Parklane Academy. The Bruins played one 6A team last season, losing to JA 36-12.

       Picarella is the second Division I prospect to leave St. Joe in the past several months. Reggie Vaughn – a 6-3, 250-pound sophomore defensive lineman – transferred to Hartfield Academy this spring. He is rated as the No. 7 defensive lineman in the country in the Class of 2025 by 247 Sports.

       University Lab is a k-12 school with 452 students grades 9-12, compared to St. Joe’s 399 students 7-12.