The late-game calls from LSU coach Les Miles might have left Tiger fans squeamish in their Ben Hill Griffin Stadium seats last Saturday, but recruits like Olive Branch, Miss. cornerback Jalen Collins – an LSU commitment since the summer - wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
“The game was well played by LSU, but the comeback and fake at the end were what really made it an awesome game to watch,” he said. “I was going crazy the entire time, and I jumped out of my seat when coach Miles called for the fake.”
The fake – as in a fourth-down fake field goal where punter/holder Derek Helton flipped the ball over his shoulder to kicker Josh Jasper – paid off big time for Miles. Though Helton’s toss came up short, Jasper fielded the ball off one hop and took it five yards for the first down.
“Josh (Jasper) had to do his thing,” said four-star offensive tackle Greg Robinson, who remains one of the biggest in-state targets for the LSU staff as the recruiting calendar turns to its final months. “When he first tossed it and I saw it bounce, I didn’t know what was going to happen. I figured LSU might have lost the game, but Josh scooped it and got downfield in a hurry.
“I’ve watched a lot of LSU games and definitely didn’t know he could do it like that. It was pretty cool.”
Just like that LSU had new life, and one play later quarterback Jarrett Lee hooked up with go-to receiver Terrance Toliver to move the ball to the Florida goalline.
Two plays later, the Tigers won the game – a passing score that came from Lee to Toliver just six seconds before the final whistle sounded.
“I was going crazy all the way until the end,” said five-star defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, who flipped his pledge from Tennessee to LSU last December. “I was back home in New Orleans watching it with all my family, and all of us were screaming at the television. I know we were no different than every other family in Louisiana last Saturday. We just wanted that win.”
Since the win came in Gainesville, Fla., none of LSU’s 17 commitments were on hand to witness the moment first-hand.
No matter, impact was made – perhaps most importantly on the prospects that call the Sunshine State their home.
6-foot-6, 340-pound Abraham Garcia watched the game from his Fort Lauderdale home, where according to the 2012 standout, the mood was pro-LSU. With offers from the Tigers and the Gators, Garcia – tabbed as one of the top overall prospects in the Sunshine State for next season – said that the win did wonders for LSU.
“I already had LSU as my leader before that game, but seeing them beat Florida took things to another level,” he said. “I loved how LSU never gave up, and when the game was on the line coach Miles put it in the hands of his players to get the win. It was just so intense. I couldn’t turn away for a single play.”
The same goes for Avery Johnson, the younger brother of LSU cornerback and return specialist Patrick Peterson. Needless to say, a pro-LSU crowd also surrounded the Pompano Beach resident.
“I was sitting on the edge of my seat the whole game,” said Johnson, who became the first commitment to LSU’s 2012 class last month. “To get that win over Florida in their backyard is tough, but LSU came in and had that confidence to get it done. I talked to Patrick right after the game, and he couldn’t even put the words together. He was just so happy that he finally beat Florida.”
Though it wasn’t without drama (is it ever when it comes to LSU?), the outcome is another win – and the Tigers remains perfect at 6-0 on the season.
“You have to trust that Les Miles and LSU are always going to get it done,” said Anthony Johnson. “They have proven that time after time.”