Almost eight months before the next batch of high school seniors could sign their letters of intent to play college football, LSU football coach Nick Saban receiverd commitment No. 6 from Patterson athlete Blair Irvin, a 5-foot-11, 160-pound athlete who will play free safety and wide receiver for the Lumberjacks this fall.
Irvin, who also plays baseball and runs track at Patterson, gave his commitment to Saban in early June.
"He's a very good leader," Patterson's coach and athletics director, Tommy Minton, told Tiger Rag. "He's very popular here and he's got a great work ethic. But the thing he really has going for him is he's very, very competitive."
As a junior, Irvin had 28 receptions for 524 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned two punts for touchdowns and averaged 21 yards per return. Irvin started at cornerback during his sophomore season but will play free safety in his senior season.
"We play a man scheme," Minton said. "I'd say we play man 95 percent of the time, and so our free safety has to cover a lot of ground. With the wheels he has, that's a good place for us to have him."
Irvin had three interceptions last year, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Minton says that LSU is recruiting Irvin as an athlete, but that Saban may give Irvin a first look at cornerback.
"Everybody talks about that 4.38 he ran at the Nike combine," Minton says. "But this is what impresses me most: He had never run track before this year, and he anchored our 4x100 relay team. They finished second in the state, and he was ticked off he didn't win."
Irvin, one of the team leaders, has plenty of influences to draw upon. At Patterson, which has produced a sizable chunk of college players, Minton regularly brings back former standouts to talk to his current team.
"We had Ike (Hilliard) here three weeks ago to talk to them. He tells them about staying focused in school, staying off the streets and staying around good people," Minton said.
"Blair does remind me of Ike when Ike was that age. They resemble each other with their height and weight and their physical skills."
Over the past six months, others — such as former Southern player Gillis Wilson, current Miami (Fla.) player Kenneth Dangerfield Jr. and former LSU legend Dalton Hilliard — have been by to inspire the youngsters.
"His core grades are good right now, but you know that can always change from semester to semester," Minton warns. "He took the ACT for the first time in April, and we're just waiting for the results. But I fully expect he'll be academically qualified."
Blair joins the Tigers' five previous commitments: Rummel offensive lineman Garett Wibel, Catholic defensive lineman Doug Planchard, Higgins athlete Skyler Green, Notre Dame athlete Jeff Cook and John Curtis running back Jason Spadoni.
- Editor's note: Height, weight and 40-yard time based on figures taken at the LSU Nike Invitational Combine.