Hairston Talks LSU

LSU picked up a commitment from kicker James Hairston on Wednesday, bringing the Tigers to 19 pledges to the 2011 class. Go inside to hear the newest Bayou Bengal talk about his process.

With Drew Alleman headed into his junior year, the LSU coaching staff decided that the 2011 class, despite the number crunch, was the time to strike on one of the country’s best legs: James Hairston.

Hairston, a Dallas native and standout kicker and punter at Jesuit High School, camped with LSU last summer and has since been in constant contact with the coaching staff, particularly special teams coach Joe Robinson.

“Joe Rob was very, very consistent with his recruitment since then,” Hairston said. “We talked every Wednesday, and sometimes we would talk football and other times we would talk about life.

“I also got to meet coach Miles, and we talked for a while at the camp. I can’t say I have ever met a sweeter person. We have had nothing but really good conversations.”

The bond with Robinson went so far that when he was nominated for Special Teams Coach of the Year, Hairston made sure he got in his fair share of votes.

“I logged onto the website and I voted for him, then I kept clearing my cookies and voting again and again,” Hairston said. “That’s how much respect I have for Joe Rob as a person and a coach.”

Hairston said that his summer visit helped seal the deal for the Tigers, despite the fact that the next five months would become a waiting game to get into the class.

“There’s something majestic about LSU, and I don’t even know if I can put it all into words,” he said. “I tried taking in the whole campus, from eating over at Louie’s to walking around the stadium. It all stuck with me, which is why I wanted to get into LSU’s class any way that I could.”

When the NCAA didn’t clear freshman punter Brad Wing over the summer, Robinson made the move to cover himself at that position first by taking a commitment from Junior College punter Dalton Botts.

When Wing was cleared, Botts began looking elsewhere, and on Tuesday he landed with the University of Miami.

With the scholarship back in his hand, Robinson made a call to Hairston, who he had maintained contact with throughout his senior season. With only one kicker on board in rising junior Drew Alleman, Hairston would bring depth at both positions.

“I talked with Joe Rob and he said that their situation had changed and that they were ready to offer,” Hairston said. “The world sort of stopped for me. I accepted on the spot.”

What does commitment No. 19 bring to the table?

“I am a legit combo player,” Hairston said. “I can definitely kick, but I also averaged 48 yards a punt. That is something I am becoming good at. I’ve worked with different trainers over the years and I feel like I have become pretty dynamic because I do both.

“I even went to a Top 12 Kicking Camp this summer, and I beat Botts punting the football.”

As for the mental side of his game, the 6-foot, 190-pounder feels he is as sharp as ever.

“I am a person who has dealt with a lot in his life, but I have always persevered and worked through tough times,” Hairston said. “Some kickers get out there and are head cases. This kicker that LSU has gotten has a very strong spiritual aspect to him.

“This step won’t be easy, because nothing in life is. But I look at football as a business, and I will show up in Baton Rouge very serious about what I must do to help the team.”

Set up for an official visit to LSU on Jan. 21, Hairston said that despite interest from coaches across the country he will sign with the Tigers in February.

“Joe Rob wants to come out on a visit to the school in January if it is okay with the NCAA, and I will then come over to Baton Rouge after that and see the coaches and players,” he said. “Then I plan on signing and beginning my work.

“I am going to hit the ground running. BCS football is about working hard and hoping for the best, and that has to be my new mentality. I finally see that some of my long term goals are now turning into short term goals, and that feels great.”

Before all that, however, Hairston will see the Tigers in action.

“My doctor got me some tickets to the Cotton Bowl, so I will be in Jerry’s World to see LSU beat up on Texas A&M,” he said. “Now that I am part of the class I can’t wait to be in the stadium cheering for them.”

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