FAIRHOPE — St. Michael senior safety Justin Helper was heading to Louisiana for college visits and had one booked at Northwestern State. They ended up adding a stop at rival Nicholls State …
FAIRHOPE — St. Michael senior safety Justin Helper was heading to Louisiana for college visits and had one booked at Northwestern State. They ended up adding a stop at rival Nicholls State University where he felt right at home and eventually signed with the Colonels during a signing ceremony Monday at the school.
“I was actually supposed to go on a Northwestern State visit in Natchitoches, Louisiana and we were like, ‘Let’s make a trip out of it.’ So we contacted the coach down at Nicholls and he said ‘Come on campus, we’ll show you everything we’ve got,’ and we fell in love with the area,” Helper recounted Monday. “Everyone was so supportive, they embraced everything about us and the community was so awesome.”
Helper now marks the third member of the 2022 Cardinal defense to sign with a college team, joining Clay Barr (Delta State) and Tyler Cella (Benedictine) who penned commitments Feb. 1. After Helper supplied 50 tackles (27 solos), 14 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles and 2 field goal blocks to help keep St. Michael opponents to 209 points in the program’s fifth varsity season, he was proud to be among his current teammates in adding to the Cardinals’ college players.
“It’s so awesome to know that we’re here,” Helper said. “We once were not even a thing, and now to be here is so awesome. Words can’t describe the feeling.”
His high school head coach, Philip Rivers, understood the excitement and looked forward to Helper playing a role on another football squad soon.
“Justin was a four-year starter for us at safety and talk about a guy that — I know all his teammates know this — really enjoyed every aspect of being a part of a football team. He enjoyed the walkthroughs, the weightroom, the bus rides; everything about it,” Rivers said. “I know he’s excited about being a part of a new team there at Nicholls so we congratulate him and wish him the best.”
Helper said the St. Michael coaching staff helped settle his mind during the recruiting process and ultimately led him to find his next step.
“Be patient,” he said of his coaches’ message. “Patience really was what the key was, and once I was patient and I was able to be humble with myself, it all just played itself out.”
To help him get over the edge to indeed issue his commitment, as he did March 16, Helper said he felt the love from his potential Colonel teammates.
“Not only were the coaches wanting me to be a part of the family, but the players themselves were wanting me to be a part of the family,” Helper said. “When I went on visits this past fall, the team was wanting to talk to me and tell me more about Nicholls and everything, and I didn’t get that anywhere else.”
With that, he put pen to paper in the gymnasium with friends, family, classmates and coaches surrounding him to officially become the newest Nicholls State signee.
“It was awesome just having them there because they’ve been there for the four years that I’ve been here, so having their support was incredible,” Helper said.
Now that he was officially a Colonel, he said he was looking forward to playing another one of Nicholls State’s rivals in Southeastern Louisiana, set for the 2023 regular-season finale.
“It’s awesome, can’t wait to get on campus,” Helper said. “I’ve heard the rivalry game with Southeastern is really fun, so I’m excited for that.”