Know your 2013 QB


When this week began, the issue at hand for many LSU fans wasn't that the Tigers needed a quarterback in the class of 2013, but the troubling knowledge that the options were running out.

Louisiana doesn't boast much elite talent under center this year, and several Tiger targets like J.T. Barrett and Cooper Bateman had committed elsewhere, leaving LSU with a seemingly small selection.

Fast forward to midweek, and the Tigers now hold a commitment from Hayden Rettig, a four-star pocket passer and the No. 12 quarterback in this year's class. With Rettig's commitment from Cathedral High School in Los Angeles coming out of left field for most, it begs the question: how did a coveted recruit who has never visited Baton Rouge end up pledging to LSU coach Les Miles?

According to Rettig, the Tiger faithful can thank quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe for that bit of convincing.

"It's actually pretty crazy. Two weeks ago Coach Kragthorpe from LSU came down," Rettig said. "He was only supposed to stay for an hour, but he stayed the whole practice. He told me to call him that night, and they offered me."

When asked for the factors that convinced him to make the trek of roughly 1,800 miles to LSU, Rettig didn't mince words.

"Coach Kragthorpe, and a chance to win a national championship," he said.

On top of that, distance doesn't seem likely to play as large a factor as it normally does for cross-country commits. Rettig, whose older brother Chase plays for Boston College, said his family was entirely supportive of his decision to leave the area.

"They're comfortable with it. They wanted me to get out of California as soon as possible," Rettig said. "I said, 'Hey, I like LSU. I like the quarterback coach, and it's a good opportunity to come in and become a good player.' That was a good reason, and my parents said, 'Do whatever you want.' They weren't holding me back."

The addition of Rettig could give the Tigers as many as five scholarship quarterbacks next February, depending on what Zach Mettenberger does following his junior season. Kevin Pearson, Rettig's coach at Cathedral, said the opportunity to compete early was one of LSU's appealing factors, as well as the Tigers' power-oriented offense.

"At the end of the day, what he was looking for is a pro-style offense, a chance to compete for national championships and a place where he could play relatively soon," Pearson said.

The chance to play at all has to be one of Rettig's chief concerns after a trying 2011 and a slow start to 2012. Rettig tore his ACL in Cathedral's second game of his junior season, one week after he had thrown for 508 yards and six touchdowns in the season opener. The injury harpooned Cathedral's season, sending the Phantoms to 3-7 while Rettig languished on the sideline.

Pearson said that unlike many high school players, however, Rettig didn't allow the injury to get him down.

"When he got hurt, he was on the training table and I went over there after the game ended. He said, 'Coach, I'm going to be fine. I'm going to be better,' " he said. "The doctor told him it was bad, and he said it was okay -- he'd be better next year. He was like that the whole time. I've never had a kid that responded like that. They usually cry, knowing their season is over. But this kid didn't shed a tear. He didn't sulk. He was positive the whole time."

Now, nearly a year after the injury, Rettig said he is at full strength and ready for his senior campaign. He isn't playing full contact yet, as the Phantoms will be taking part in pass league camps from now into the summer, but the real deal will come soon enough.

"I'm at complete strength right now -- 100 percent running, throwing. If I wanted to right now I could probably take some hits," Rettig said. "I'm just getting stronger, lifting a lot and just working as hard as I can so I can get to the next level."

Given that Rettig only managed to play two games during his junior year, it's a reasonable assumption that the injury limited his exposure on a national level. Even with his limited game time, Rettig still earned a grade of 83 from ESPN's scouts -- the same grade as 33 members of the ESPN 150. With his rehab behind him, concerns about the ACL don't seem likely to limit him in 2012.

"Most people, when they come out here, say I'm throwing better than ever," Rettig said. "They're actually really impressed, and coming off my fourth month my doctor said I was cleared ... I came out of it pretty fast and rehabbed real hard, and now I'm ready to play this season."

When the Phantoms do take the field this fall, Rettig said his aim is nothing less than a state crown for Cathedral. Backward as it seems, before he does that he'll be introducing himself to the Tiger nation. Rettig will take his first trip to Baton Rouge this weekend.

"I'm just looking forward to meeting the guys, and the players and coaches, and trying to get that family bonding started when I come down there," he said.