Thursday, February 7, 2013
For LSU's Wilson, no time for sleep
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE, La. -- The night before signing day, Frank Wilson slept on an air mattress in his office
But only for a few hours.
LSU's recruiting coordinator doesn't have much time for that during the height of the recruiting season, especially with LSU's frantic recruiting cycle.
Frank Wilson has done a superb job recruiting players that could make an immediate impact as freshmen.
While most programs have players locked into four- or five-year cycles, LSU has embraced the three-year pattern. After 2012, 11 Tigers left early for the NFL draft, leaving Wilson to scramble to restock positions with a greater sense of urgency than some programs.
It's not like this was a revelation that struck LSU in January.
"When our guys left to go to the NFL, it was no surprise to us," Wilson said. "To the national media, it was, 'Wow, they are losing X amount of players.' (Defensive ends) Sam Montgomery, Keke Mingo, we knew they were leaving."
So Wilson and LSU's staff had a plan, and all they had to do was execute it -- which was easier said than done.
Take the defensive line example Wilson mentioned. To follow the plan, they needed about seven prospects with the ability to play at a high enough level to stock the position at LSU standards (meaning, NFL quality). That's seven players in one recruiting class, including guys who would be game-ready and able to help immediately.
That brings us back to Wilson's air mattress.
Even executed to perfection, it was a task that required many sleepless nights and pushed LSU to the last possible minute.
Defensive end Tashawn Bower, who was not committed to LSU the night before signing day, flipped to the Tigers as the last player in the class Wednesday afternoon. Wilson and LSU's staff worked him on the phone from early in the morning, and by lunch, they had his letter of intent -- and the job of replenishing the defensive line, a project two years in the making, was successfully completed.
Time to rest? No way. There's a need for running backs next year and perhaps some defensive backs. Wilson might not have needed the air mattress Wednesday night, but he was hardly going to segue from signing day to vacation.
"We'll start later today," he said. "We'll move these 2013 guys to our active roster and start moving up the 2014 guys."
For a recruiting coordinator, there's never enough time to rest.