- David Helman, Reporter, RecruitingNation
BATON ROUGE -- Kendell Beckwith was a coveted 2013 prospect long before last week's release of the ESPN 150.
But whoever was unfamiliar with the East Feliciana (La.) High School linebacker before the list debuted knows him now. In the initial edition of the ESPN 150, Beckwith is sitting pretty as the No. 16 prospect in the nation, the top-ranked athlete in the nation, and the best player from Louisiana.
"It was nice. It was real nice -- I was surprised a little bit," Beckwith said. "A friend of mine texted me and told me, and then I went and looked and I saw it. It was great. I was all smiles for the rest of the day."
If Beckwith was surprised to read his name in such a lofty position, the programs that are after him are not. Just more than a week into the spring evaluation period, Beckwith said his phone has been busy with phone calls from the laundry list of schools on his offer sheet. And the list of schools interested in him isn't short.
"Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Tennessee -- all of them, really. I've heard from all of them," he said.
As many fans are no doubt aware, Beckwith lists the Tigers and Crimson Tide at the top of his current list of destinations. The fierce rivalry between Alabama and LSU promises to extend to East Feliciana for the linebacker's services.
Beckwith said he has spoken with LSU recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson, as well as Alabama running backs coach Burton Burns. On top of that, both coaches have already visited the East Feliciana campus, while Beckwith said no other schools have come calling as of yet.
The different approaches of both Alabama and LSU give Beckwith plenty to think about as far as his onfield future. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker also projects at defensive end, and how a school plans to use him could factor heavily in his decision.
"The way Alabama plays, I'd be coming down as a defensive end like (Courtney) Upshaw was. And Clemson talks about me putting my hand in the dirt," he said. "I want to rush off the edge, but I don't want to have my hand in the dirt all the time. Upshaw had his hand on the ground a lot … I saw him drop into coverage sometimes, but it wasn't a lot or enough -- like I want to."
The Tigers more traditional, 4-3 pass rush wouldn't feature as much switching -- a proposition Beckwith said appeals to him.
"They rush off the edge, but they stand up and rush off the edge. I'd like to stand up," he said.
The comparisons don't seem likely to end anytime soon. Beckwith said he loves Alabama's defensive prowess and its track record of getting players ready for the NFL -- right before heaping the same praise on LSU.
And he will have plenty of time to weigh his options. He doesn't plan to commit until late into his senior season -- or perhaps not even until January's Under Armour All-America Game.
Of course, Beckwith said none of that should cancel out other factors. As much as he might like the Tigers and the Tide, Louisiana's top prospect said he still considers his recruitment wide open.
"They're my top two, but I'm still open to go see other schools," Beckwith said. "I want to go see Tennessee."
5dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough