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Monday, January 14, 2013
Big one gets away from LSU

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- It didn't take long in the recruiting process before it began to seem like LSU would not keep its most local target on campus.

Tim Williams, an ESPN 150 defensive end and the state's highest-ranked player, seemed to lean toward leaving Baton Rouge early in the process, favoring destinations such as Miami and Florida State at various times before committing to Alabama on Monday, the day after his return from a visit to Tuscaloosa.

It continued Alabama's success plucking key players from Louisiana. Leading rusher Eddie Lacy went to high school just outside of Baton Rouge and the same suburban high school produced Landon Collins, the player who shocked his mother on signing day last season by choosing the Tide over LSU.

This time, Alabama wrangled away a player literally off LSU's campus. Williams attends University Lab, LSU's on-campus college prep school. Williams, ranked No. 37 in the ESPN 150, is the highest-rated player from Louisiana.

Where last year's loss of Collins was disappointing, this loss won't be met with the same trepidation. LSU already has a solid defensive end class on the way with Frank Herron, Lewis Neal and Michael Patterson and the Tigers remain in the hunt for Robert Nkemdiche, the nation's top player. LSU also has a commitment from athlete Kendell Beckwith, who lists defensive end as one of the positions he's most likely to play.

So the interest level from both sides seemed to be tepid for a while. For LSU, it was about having already filled a need. For Williams, it was perhaps about getting away from home and a better fit. Alabama's 3-4 defense might  be a better scheme for Williams, who at 230 pounds has a slender build for an end in LSU's 4-3 scheme. In the 3-4, he can line up as a rush linebacker and not have to put his hand on the ground in front of offensive linemen 60-70 pounds larger than him.

At the end, maybe LSU wasn't ever the best fit for his skill set.