Monday, February 4, 2013
LSU braces for dramatic finish
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE, La. -- So much activity, so little resolution.
LSU hosted the nation's No. 1 player, who was considered a long shot before the weekend. He met celebrities, attended a rap concert and seemed to leave Baton Rouge with a good vibe toward the Tigers. Meanwhile, a long-time Tiger commit seemed to waver on his commitment as he took a surprise visit to another school.
By the end of the weekend, there wasn't any surprise commitment from the nation's top player, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, after his visit to Baton Rouge along with his high school teammate, cornerback David Kamara. For much of the week, it did not appear either would come to Baton Rouge. But they announced their attentions to visit on Thursday, met Shaquille O'Neal at a local restaurant, attended a Wale concert, then repeatedly tweeted their approval of the trip on Sunday.
LSU defensive end commit Frank Herron took a surprise official visit to Texas this weekend.
Nkemdiche called defensive line coach Brick Haley his "dog," said he "loved" recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson and said LSU had "made it hard" for him. That's good news for the Tigers considering most had expected Nkemdiche to be an Ole Miss lock.
That still might be the case. We won't likely know until national signing day, when Nkemdiche announces where he's going to school Wednesday morning.
While LSU wooed Nkemdiche, the Tigers' highest-rated defensive end commit, Frank Herron, was getting similar treatment in Austin from Texas.
The Longhorns, who have recently struggled with four decommitments, tried to force one of their own from Herron. The point man for Texas is new running backs coach Larry Porter, who twice won national recruiter of the year while on LSU's staff (2007 and 2009).
Porter was Memphis' head coach in 2010-2011, giving him local ties to Herron, the top player out of Memphis this year. Herron joined the Texas staff in January.
There wasn't much talk about Herron lately, in no small part because the ESPN 300 defensive end had sort of gone silent since committing to LSU in June. Herron didn't take trips to other schools before news leaked out -- not from Herron -- that he was heading for Texas' campus.
Herron wasn't the only Tiger commit to take a trip elsewhere. Offensive line commit Josh Boutte visited Louisiana-Lafayette, a visit that seemed as much a courtesy as anything. He was accompanied by Tevin Lawson, the defensive tackle commit who had his LSU offer changed to a grayshirt offer after LSU told him it feared an NCAA clearinghouse issue with his transcript.
All these details came to light as the weekend neared. At midweek, LSU's class, 26 strong (27, if one still includees Lawson) looked like it might be finished, ready to quietly tiptoe to signing day with a class mostly secured early.
Instead, with two days left before the big day, there's drama again in Baton Rouge.