Vincent becomes 8th LSU commitment

Barbe running back Justin Vincent, regarded by many as the best senior prospect in the state of Louisiana, was at the LSU campus again in late July but said he wasn't any closer to committing to the Tigers. Vincent's plan officially changed Tuesday, as he gave his verbal commitment to Saban.

When Tiger Rag visited with Vincent in the spring, Vincent said he liked what he saw and heard from coach Nick Saban, but also wanted to explore most of his possible avenues.

"That's still pretty much my plan," Vincent said last month. "I really like LSU. But I'd still like to take all my visits."

Vincent's plan officially changed Tuesday, as he gave his verbal commitment to Saban, thereby becoming the eighth member of LSU's class for 2002.

Vincent, who attended LSU's first summer-camp session, was also at the Nike combine May 6, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. Justin's mother, Lilly, said one of his coaches clocked him at 4.37 last week.

"We were just in Baton Rouge for the (LHSAA) All-Star Game," Lilly said. "I know Justin told the coaches that LSU was very high on his list."

On the same week of the Nike camp, Vincent and teammate Ivan Stevenson also had other events scheduled at LSU - namely, the state track-and-field championships. They and Drew Blanchard, who will be a freshman wide receiver at McNeese State this fall, were part of the 4x100-meter relay team that won the state championship last year. This spring, Barbe finished third in both the 4x100 and 4x200 competitions.

"It was a little bit disappointing," Vincent said. "We didn't really expect to win for sure, but we weren't really happy about finishing third."

Vincent (5-10, 200) ran for 1,650 yards and 24 touchdowns as a junior. Since then, he's been on the track and in the gym, getting ready for two-a-days. Barbe coach Jimmy Shaver said he expects to play Vincent at quarterback from time to time in a case of putting the ball in the hands of his best athlete.

"We threw Justin a screen pass against New Iberia, and I think everyone on their defense had a chance to get to him," Shaver says. "So he doubles back, does a couple of spins and moves, changes his field or whatever. Lo and behold, he scores the touchdown."

Shaver had seen Vincent make some incredible moves before, but the latest didn't inspire any less awe as he stood and watched from the sideline.

"I thought to myself, ‘Gee, great call,'" Shaver jokes.

Barbe plays mostly a one-back, three-wide-receiver set. Shaver says he plans to use Vincent at quarterback in some cases next season, moving Stevenson to tailback from time to time.

"I can't imagine two young men being any faster than those guys are," Shaver says. "As coaches, we try to make sure we're using them in the best ways we can.

"But it also helps that they're great young men. They're good friends, they live close to each other and they really lead by example."

Vincent expects to be academically qualified for college. He was among the horde of juniors Saban welcomed for the weekend of Jan. 24. Saban offered Vincent a scholarship that weekend, adding that there was no timetable for his decision. At the time, the tailback said he really liked LSU, noting its coaching staff and proximity to Lake Charles, but he also maintained is intentions to look around. Vincent's childhood team was Georgia, but he said the Bulldogs recruit too many running backs.


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