For college coaches, official visits are the chance to make, perhaps, the biggest impression on a potential recruit.
With that in mind, the LSU staff has made a point to simulate the environment in the spring prior to the start of football season, inviting prospects and their families in for unofficial visits – meaning the prospect pays their own way – as the Tigers go through offseason workouts.
Given the staff has plenty more free time during spring drills than rigors of the fall schedule, the unofficial visits are providing LSU's staff with the ability to spend hours of one-on-one time with the prospects they are assigned to.
|Mitch is high on LSU after picking up an offer|
So far this spring, the Tigers have made a big splash with the 2013 prospects that decided to trip to Baton Rouge after the program's first two Junior Day weekends.
Miles extended a scholarship offer to Mitch after the team's scrimmage, and Mitch returned home on Sunday and named LSU as one of the top teams on his board (Mitch said he wasn't ready to name any finalists).
Four-star tight end Mike Heuerman had a similar Baton Rouge experience.
Two days prior to Mitch's arrival, Heuerman flew to Baton Rouge from Naples, Fla., with his father, a former basketball player at Michigan who has ties to Les Miles during their days in Ann Arbor.
While Heuerman has a double-digit offer sheet and a brother at Ohio State, he left campus from his two-day stay and named LSU his No. 1 team, pointing to the feeling of "being at home" after spending time with Miles and players Zach Mettenberger and D.J. Welter.
Similar impressions were made on in-state players, most recently Edna Karr tight end Standish Dobard, who visited on the same day as Mitch. A source close to Dobard's recruitment said the Tigers jumped back into the picture after Dobard saw how much Mettenberger went to the tight ends during the scrimmage.
Prior to the weekend, Dobard had told multiple media outlets that he was set on leaving Louisiana for college and wasn't interested in the Tigers because the offense didn't get the tight end involved in the passing game.
|Fanaika chose LSU after his March visit|
The LSU staff even dipped back into the class of 2012, inviting College of San Mateo offensive lineman Fehoko Fanaika to visit campus the weekend of March 2.
On Thursday, the visit panned out when Fanaika chose LSU over Hawaii and Florida, faxing over his letter of intent just short of noon, giving the Tigers 24 commitments for 2012 and bumped their national ranking up to No. 6.
The pull gives LSU not just the program's first Tongan signee in history, but more importantly a 6-foot-6 and 340-pound lineman that will arrive to campus in May.
If Fanaika redshirts next fall, he will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.
Headed into St. Patrick's Day weekend, the staff hopes to keep momentum rolling – and the visitor list is as impressive as it has been all spring.
Here are some prospects to keep an eye on this weekend:
A combination defensive end/tackle, the 6-foot-5 and 270 pound five-star prospect will visit Baton Rouge for LSU's scrimmage on Saturday.
|Prevot has blown up since picking up an LSU offer|
While Prevot is now over 15 scholarship offers, the Tigers were the first team to extend a verbal offer.
Prevot quickly named LSU as one of his leaders and has maintained that stance in the month since.
This weekend, the staff will get their first chance to host Prevot on campus. Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, who has led the way in recruiting the Houston area for LSU this spring, will play host to Prevot during his time in Baton Rouge.
The 6-foot-2 and 275 pound Dallas standout is ranked as the No. 4 defensive tackle in the country, and he's got early offers from nearly every school on his wish list – including LSU and all the Texas schools.
"I'd say that TCU was the most fun," Manning told Scout.com's Ahmard Vital. "I liked being around the coaches and players.
"But with Texas, it was more serious. I was there watching film and the coaches were telling me where I would play if I were to go there and everything. Those two visits stick out for me."
Manning said he plans to make his decision in December, giving coaches plenty of time to make their mark on the Lone Star State's top interior lineman.
On Wednesday, Hines named LSU his leader and said he would commit if the Tigers pulled the trigger with an offer.
|Manning, the top DT in Texas, will be at LSU this weekend|
Earlier this month, Barrett told Scout.com's Bill Greene that he hoped to have a decision made sometime in the near future.
"I definitely want to make my decision before my senior year," Barrett said. "It could be this summer or even sooner, possibly in May. That's my goal right now, but I'm more focused on finding the right school, not making a quick decision.
"When I find the right place for me, I will know it."