“I just committed to coach Miles,” said Jonah Austin on Saturday evening. “I came over there to spend the day, and we ended things by watching practice this afternoon. After that I met with coach Miles and I told him I wanted to be a part of it all.”
The 6-foot-7, 355-pounder joins Trai Turner as the second St. Augustine High product to the class. The Tigers picked up cornerback Tyrann Mathieu out of St. Augustine last signing day.
“I am pumped to be carrying on the tradition,” Austin said. “We are going to make them proud.”
Austin is the 18th player to join the class and the second commitment for Miles this December.
Austin, his stepfather and Turner drove from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to spend Saturday on LSU’s campus. Austin and Turner had all eyes on the football team as they prepared for their bowl bout with Texas A&M, while his father kept a close eye on the academic side of LSU’s recent scholarship offer.
“He thinks education comes before everything, especially football,” Austin said. “His main focus is getting me prepared for life away from New Orleans, and he said my studies will take me far.
“Everything with LSU checked out. He was really impressed. He knows I will be in good hands.”
Though he had been committed to Houston since late July, spending the day in Baton Rouge had pushed him closer than ever do switching his pledge.
By night’s end, he had been pushed over the edge.
“I asked my stepdad for advice, and he said he couldn’t make my decision for me and that I needed to follow my heart,” Austin said. “I prayed about it and asked God to give me strength to make the right decision, and in my heart I knew it was LSU.”
Instead of committing to Miles before leaving town, Austin sat through the visit without telling the headman the good news.
“I wanted that moment to be shared with my mother, and she couldn’t come over to Baton Rouge with us because she just had surgery,” he said. “I drove home and talked it over with her, then Trai came over and they supported me as I made the calls.”
The first call was to Houston.
“That was one of the toughest things I have had to do, because they went after me as their big recruit and promised me a great opportunity,” Austin said. “I was honest with them and told them LSU was my home school and the offer that I always dreamed of, and they said they were upset but also understood and supported me.”
His next call was to LSU.
“Coach Miles and coach Frank (Wilson) were both really pumped up,” Austin said. “They said this offensive line class is going to be a great one, and that the whole 2011 group is one of the best they have ever had. I’m just happy that my hard work turned into a scholarship, because now I can be in purple and gold for four more years.”
When Turner picked up an offer last spring, Austin said that a conversation with coach Wilson left him more motivated than ever.
“Coach Frank said he was going to be as honest as possible, and he let me know I wasn’t where I needed to be and that I had to get in the weight room hard and then work out some technique issues,” he said. “That summer Trai and I lived in the weight room, and I worked on technique stuff every day. Mentally and physically I was a lot stronger. That set me up for a great senior season, and now I get to say I’m going to be an LSU Tiger.
“It’s a great day for me and my family.”
Austin’s mother welcomed the news with open arms.
“I’m only 45 minutes away from her now, and that’s what she had always wanted,” he said. “Tonight we remembered back on the first day that I played football in ninth grade. Before I went out there she told me to have a goal of getting an LSU scholarship one day, because then I could play college football and she could sit in the stands every weekend.
“Now both our dreams come true.”