COLUMN: LSU proves it can recruit nationally

LSU's success on the field in 2011 has paid off in the current recruiting class. Just look at the Tigers' out-of-state haul and you'll see how LSU has become a national brand.

The correlation between success on the field and success in recruiting has often been discussed.

Win games. Win recruiting battles. That's the general idea and has been a major selling point for the nation's top programs. But the relationship between winning and recruiting doesn't necessarily pay off simply in convincing recruits they can win championships.

The real payoff comes in exposure, and that's become clear in LSU's 2013 recruiting class.

Coming off an undefeated 2011 regular season and a berth in the BCS National Championship, LSU has raked in recruits from a national pool. The Tigers played almost every game in front of a national audience and were regularly featured on ESPN's College Gameday.

You can't pay for that kind of publicity.

And though the team didn't receive the ultimate reward on the field, LSU has been awarded one of the country's top classes thanks in large part to its out-of-state haul. Of LSU's 25 current commits (for the purpose of this column, Avery Johnson and Fehoko Fanaika will count toward 2012), 13 come from Louisiana, while the other half come from eight different states.

LSU has established quite the national footprint, and that's due in large part to its year on the field in 2011. With every win, LSU built a reputation with prospective high school players that became more familiar with a program they may have otherwise ignored.

You can really appreciate LSU's foray into coast-to-coast recruiting by examining the past classes. Below is a state-by-state breakdown of each one of Les Miles' recruiting classes (This does include JUCO prospects, so keep in mind that most recruits coming from Kansas, Virginia and California have been of the JUCO/Prep school variety):

Recruiting_classes

A big thing to note on this class is how the staff entered into previously untapped states. LSU pulled two commitments from North Carolina (Greg Gilmore and Lewis Neal), the first prospects to come from that state since kicker Andrew Crutchfield in 2007.

That is due in large part to John Chavis, who has taken the responsibility of recruiting the Carolinas, one of his old stomping grounds from his Tennessee days. The Chief has also started pushing LSU back into Tennessee, somewhere LSU had landed a recruit in each of the years from 2007-10, but hadn't in the previous two classes.

LSU also went into the Midwest and pulled out a pair of prospects (Ethan Pocic and Christian Lacouture). The Tigers had gone into that region before, landing recruits like Spencer Ware and Joseph Barksdale, but that's regularly been the exception.

Illinois is a surprisingly fertile recruiting state and landing someone like Pocic could help the staff develop a pipeline. The staff also pulled Lacouture away from Nebraska, a state very passionate about Big Red (though he could also be considered a Texas prospect after moving to Nebraska for his senior year).

But what makes this class unique isn't necessarily that the staff fanned out across the nation, it's the states LSU didn't pull recruits from.

During Miles' reign, LSU had landed a recruit from Alabama in all but one class. The same goes for the state of Texas, where LSU has pulled at least three prospects in each class.

The number of commits from those states in 2013 is zero.

While some may see that as a problem of LSU missing on prospects from those states, it can also be seen as LSU branching out from the Gulf Coast, finding talent from across the nation instead of limiting itself to one region.

Continuing that pattern would likely be a bad idea — with the most talent unquestionably coming from Texas and the South — but that formula worked in 2013.

While LSU has always considered itself a program that recruits nationally, the Class of 2013 finally gives proof of that. With seemingly unlimited resources, you can expect the staff will continue targeting recruits from across the nation, something that can only help on the field.


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