Baton Rouge, La.--One of the positions of need for any college football team is up front on the offensive line and one of the best in the country this year is big La'el Collins from Redemptorist High.
Rated the nation's #2 offensive tackle, Collins is committed to LSU but took a visit over the weekend to Auburn to check out coach Gene Chizik's program. Following his trip Collins said that while he's still with LSU, Auburn has moved into the picture.
"It's a good place with a good coaching staff and good players," Collins said of Auburn. "The people are great. It's a good place. I like it..the game was good. The crowd was good. The Tiger Walk was nice. There were a lot of people there. It was great. The people in the stadium were real loud, which you expect.
"Real strong," Collins added of his thoughts on Auburn. "I just have to think about it…I can't really say right now. I'm just kind of in between right now and thinking about it a whole lot."
Auburn's hunt for quality offensive linemen is a never-ending one that has been on the minds of the coaching staff since they arrived two years ago. With Collins knowing that need and the availability to play early he said getting to know the coaching staff and what they believe in was important for him.
"That's real big because you want to know who is going to be coaching you and what kind of guy he is for the next four years while you're there," Collins said. "Also just by them needing offensive linemen it makes it even better. You're going to get a good coach and also a good mentor and a good person that's going to be there for you."
It's not just the need for offensive linemen for the Tigers but also Auburn's offensive attack that makes them an attractive school for guys on that side of the ball. It's not something that has gone unnoticed by Collins and he said playing for a school that scores a lot of points is always fun but having a great coaching staff makes it even better.
"The offense is great," Collins said. "I really like their offensive coordinator (Gus Malzahn). I met him and got a chance to talk with him. He's a real good man and hit on a lot of different things I was ready to hear. I like that. I like the way they run the ball. I like that when they got down 21-7 nobody on their sideline hung their heads. They kept fighting it and overcame it.
"It's just the coaches," he added. "They're not just like coaches, they are mentors. They are like your dad or father. They are like people you're around at home. They make you feel at home. That's the kind of coaches they are. They can help you get to the next level. They have the statistics to show they've done it before."
Currently committed to a school in his hometown would seem to make LSU a strong favorite and while that may be the case Collins said he's looking at Auburn with an open mind as he tries to figure out how they fit into the picture now following his visit.
"Distance figures in a way but it (Auburn) is kind of okay because it's not that far," Collins said.
Currently 9-1 on the year, Collins and his teammates begin playoff action this weekend looking for a state title.