It's hard to believe that the recruitment of a prospect ranked third nationally at his position, with a host of offers from elite SEC and Big Ten schools, could get any better.
But Clifton Garrett's did when he heard from LSU late last week.
"Everything was already going pretty good, and then LSU offered and that's a pretty huge offer for me," Garrett said. "I've been waiting on that one for a while. I've been watching LSU for about five years now. Every year, their defense is just nasty. It would be great to be part of something like that."
Garrett's road to that LSU offer was an interesting run. His already high interest on LSU grew with some encouraging words from LSU early enrollee Ethan Pocic, who hails from a nearby Chicago suburb.
With Garrett intrigued by the Tigers, Pocic encouraged him to reach out to the LSU coaches and let them know he was interested. Once he got a hold of Greg Studrawa, who handles recruiting in the Midwest, Garrett learned the interest was mutual.
"When [Studrawa] picked up he was extremely excited it was me," Garrett said. "At that point, he told me I'd get a scholarship to play at LSU and that he wanted Coach Miles to talk to me. So I got on the phone with him the next day and that was great. They want me to come down and they were raving about my skills as a linebacker, coming downhill, playing hard and playing fast. They told me I should definitely play in the SEC and at LSU."
Having someone from Garrett's hometown could serve as a major selling point for LSU, and the four-star LB admits his relationship with Pocic has helped educate him about what LSU has to offer.
"I talk to Ethan a lot, and he's trying to get me to come down there," Garrett said. "I'm definitely going down for a visit with my parents, and we'll see how things go from there. But LSU is definitely a school I'm interested in…I've watched so many highlight videos from LSU, and seeing the way they come through the tunnel, I could definitely see myself doing something like that."
Watching Garrett's highlight tapes, there's no question he's a big, hard-hitting linebacker that projects to play in the middle. At 6-foot-2, 228 pounds, he already has the prototypical size to fit into LSU's system, and the coaches have promised he'd flourish in purple and gold.
"I talked to [defensive coordinator John Chavis] and he wants me playing right away in the middle," Garrett said. "I can definitely fill out some more. I'm already at about 228 pounds, and they told me they can definitely put a lot more weight on me and that would be legit…
"I'm a pretty good leader," he continued. "I'm smart and I can play physical, play downhill. I definitely love playing physically, getting into it with those offensive linemen, smacking the fullback and making some plays."
Garrett already has offers from more than a dozen schools, including some of the top teams from the SEC and Big Ten. He said he doesn't have a list of leaders right now but LSU, Ohio State, Florida and Ole Miss are some of the schools standing out.
"Academics are a huge part of it," Garrett said. "Football's not always going to be there, so I want a school with great academics that can back me up. Second, I want go to a school with a winning tradition and a great coaching staff that can help me."
Garrett said he's in no hurry to put an end to his recruitment, and will likely wait until after his senior year, possibly during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, to make his commitment.
As for the immediate future, Garrett wants to continue making trips to explore his suitors.
"I'll be going to Florida in the summer some time, and I'll be going down to Ole Miss in two weeks," Garrett said. "I definitely want to go down to see some SEC schools. I've seen some Big Ten schools already, so I want to go see the South now."
Garrett picks up offer he was waiting for
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