Landon Collins is one of the nation's top uncommitted prospects for the 2012 class, and up to this point the Louisiana-born senior hasn't done a lot of soul-searching on the recruiting trail.
While most prospects in his position would have knocked out all five of their official visits by this point, Collins has been on just one official – when he took in LSU vs. Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5.
"Recruiting is always going to be there," he said. "I was worried about this team. We wanted to be in the (state championship). We fell short, but we made a 10-0 run and won a district championship for the second year in a row."
"I think he hadn't thought a whole lot about it during our season," Dutchtown coach Benny Saia said. "One of the things I will always appreciate is the way he handled that during the summer and this year. He never made it a distraction for the team."
Thomas Collins, Landon's father, added: "If he talks to a reporter or a recruiter on the phone, he would try to do it on the weekend. Now I just want to see what his mind is like with the season over."
After being bumped out of the playoffs in the first round by Ponchatoula last Friday, Collins said he will now turn his focus – for the first time – fully towards the recruitment process - which he has narrowed down to two teams: LSU and Alabama.
"They are doing the best right now," Collins said. "LSU is (No. 1) and Alabama is (No. 3). They have the top defenses, and that's who you want to play for. When they played, they had that defensive standout. Nobody could score."
For the Tigers, it's a race to keep the state's top player at home – a dynamic that strikes a chord with Collins when reflecting on his options.
"I have family over there," Collins said. "I have my boy Eric Reid, I have Jarvis Landry, La'el Collins - I know him very well.
"Then my actual family is right down the road. I could come home any time if I need something to eat or somebody to talk to, someone to comfort me. Or, if I just want to chill at my house for a while."
Collins said the LSU staff, spearhead by recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson, has never wavered in its quest for his signature, making it out to Dutchtown for practices and chatting on the phone as often as the NCAA permits.
"The coaching staff is great," Collins said. "Coach Frank, Coach Miles, Coach (Ron Cooper), Coach (John Chavis), it's a great atmosphere with them. We talk all the time. They tell me how the defensive scheme is and what they are running this week and that week.
"Every week they have been calling. They are keeping in touch and asking me about my (tailbone) injury and making sure I am healed.
"They are ready for me to come up there and wear purple-and-gold."
A potential factor that has gone unnoticed through Collins' recruitment is his relationship with his younger brother: Edna Karr sophomore defensive tackle Gerald Willis, who has already begun pulling in interest from SEC schools.
April Justin, the mother of Landon and Gerald, said that her lifelong dream has been to see her sons play together.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, and everyone split ways.
Landon eventually settled with his father and stepmother in Dutchtown, while Gerald stayed back with his mother and later returned to New Orleans.
"He couldn't come back and play with his brother," Justin said. "I have always wanted my boys to play together. So it's kind of hard for the last four years to not see my boys together.
"They are only 13 months apart, so they are very close. But Gerald is always trying to get out of his brother's shadow. Whatever Landon is going to do, Gerald is going to do the opposite.
"But Landon told me he will make sure his brother will play with him. My final wish is for them to be together."
LSU also has another connection working on the family side.
"Gerald's dad went to school with Frank Wilson," Justin said. "He grew up in Algiers, so they went to school together. Now Frank is recruiting Gerald and Landon. It's funny how it all works."
Collins' parents said the five-star safety prospect has remained mostly mum about which way he is leaning, which should make the next two months even more hectic for a family that knows National Signing Day is in sight.
"Whenever he has something he needs to know, he will come ask me," the elder Collins said. "I give him my 2 cents, but at the end it's all his decision on what he has to do and where he wants to go."
Collins said he will take his official visit to LSU for the Arkansas game, and will then travel to Texas at the beginning of December.
Then at January's Under Armour All-American game in Orlando, he will announce his decision to the country on live television.
"I think I will know my decision before I get on that flight," Collins said. "It's one of those things that you just know."
LSU working to keep Landon Collins at home
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