Doug Planchard: LSU Commitment 2002

From the first moment a visitor pulls up to his parents' home in suburban Baton Rouge, he understands why Doug Planchard, a senior-to-be defensive lineman at Catholic High, had a pretty darn good time last week.

An LSU flag hangs from a nearby tree in the driveway, and the mailbox out front is full with letters from the university's football office. Apparently, one of those letters from coach Nick Saban expressed that the Tigers were prepared to extend him a scholarship offer, hoping he would join Garett Wibel and Skyler Green in LSU's 2002 recruiting class.

Planchard didn't need much time to make a decision.

"It really is a dream come true and it's definitely and honor," Doug says. "Most people don't get the chance to play college football. And it was definitely a surprise to get (the scholarship offer) so early."

LSU's offer came and Planchard (6-foot-3, 250 pounds, 5.15 40-yard dash) pledged to play for his favorite team the next day.

Planchard has been no stranger to the school. He had attended the regular LSU summer camps since 10th grade. Even then, he said, former coach Gerry DiNardo took him aside and told him he had the chance to become a special player. His good standing with the Tigers carried over when Nick Saban's staff strolled in, as Saban told him they would probably extend a scholarship offer "if things progressed."

Catholic head coach Dale Weiner, who has watched many of his players go through the recruiting process, expected an offer to come soon. Not long ago, he met with Doug and his family to give them some helpful advice.

"I told Doug, 'If they offer, and that's where you want to go, you might as well commit now and get it over with,'" Weiner said.

That LSU was Doug's school of choice is a no-brainer. Greg and Kay, his parents, both attended the university and are die-hard fans. An entire room in their home is covered with various purple flags, gold-and-white pennants and framed posters commemorating the five LSU national championships in baseball.

One day, when Doug was 5, Kay taught him the lyrics to any and all songs relating to LSU.

"The fight songs, the alma mater - all of them," Kay says laughing. "(Doug) even knows the verses nobody ever sings. My friends still get a kick out of that."

Greg and Kay have had season tickets in the lower west side of Tiger Stadium - close to where visiting recruits often sit - for several years.

"We used to joke about how great it would be to have our son play football for LSU," Greg says. "And Doug told us he was gonna go there, then buy me a condo in Destin (Fla.).

Greg smiles.

"We used to laugh about it," he says. "Now we're kind of taking him seriously."

In fact, Doug was sitting about five rows in front of his parents last Sept. 30. He was on an unofficial visit to Tiger Stadium, one of many junior recruits who were blown away by the drama of LSU's 38-31 overtime win against Tennessee.

"We went on the field, looking around at that crowd," Doug says. "All those people - 90,000 or whatever - and the noise. All the recruits were just kind of looking around at each other, smiling. Our hearts were turning."

Asked to name some of the schools that had courted Planchard of late, Doug produces a stack of letters. Quite literally, dozens of schools have contacted him.

"Alabama's sending me a letter every day," he says.

LSU isn't far behind, but it seems that the content of Saban's letters is often very different than that of others.

"A lot of times, there's just a couple of sentences in big letters, and it'll be like a motivational phrase," Doug says.

One letter Planchard received from Saban reads as follows:

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.

Excellence is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, determined effort, and skilled execution.

At Catholic, Planchard played on special teams as a sophomore in '99 and moved to the starting lineup as a defensive tackle last season. He became a first-team Class 5-5A All-District player, making 70 total tackles with 10 behind the line, nine sacks and two fumble recoveries for the Bears in 2000.

As a senior, he believes Catholic is going to the Superdome.

Away from the gridiron, Doug also participates in the discus and shot put for the Bears' track-and-field team. He even moonlighted as a center for the Catholic basketball team.

Basketball helped with Doug's quickness ("I have a 4.9 in the 40, and I want to get down to 4.7," he says), but it didn't allow him to beef up like he wants to, so he'll probably stick to the gridiron this season. He and his dad point out that what players do in the off-season makes the biggest difference.

A big part of that off-season training for linemen at Catholic is the Nicholls State summer camp, which Planchard has attended for three years. In Thibodaux, the players are subjected to three practices a day, one of which cranks up right after lunch.

"It feels like its 100 degrees out there, and right after lunch there are guys throwing up everywhere," Doug admits. "But that's the idea. They're trying to figure out who's tough."

Planchard attended the Nike Invitational Camp at LSU on May 6 where 150 top prospects worked out. He expected to finish off his junior year with at least a 3.0 grade-point average. In other words, things are hardly slowing down for the Planchards, who say they'll keep that LSU flag in the driveway for a while.

As a matter of fact, as a guest pulls out of the Blanchards' driveway, a FedEx truck pulls up with a letter from recruiting coordinator Derek Dooley and the LSU football office.

"This is what it's like every day around here," Greg says. "We couldn't be happier about it."

- Editor's Note: Height, weight and 40 time from figures obtained at the LSU Nike Invitational Combine.

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