Travonte Valentine has LSU's support

Travonte Valentine hopes to soon receive his clearance from the NCAA. He's had plenty of help from his future teammates and coaches getting through this challenging process.

Rashard Robinson knows exactly what Travonte Valentine’s going through.

At this time last year, Robinson was awaiting clearance from the NCAA Eligibility Center. After graduating from Blanche Ely High School, Robinson wouldn’t have had the coursework to qualify, so he enrolled at Champagnat Catholic School — Valentine’s alma mater — to get his academics in order.

Robinson was eventually cleared just days before the start of the season and wasted little time getting on the field. But even though his story had a happy ending, it was one of the longest summers of Robinson’s life.

“You have to have a hobby or something, because if you don’t, it’ll take you through depression,” Robinson said. “I was trying to fish a lot, just keep my mind off it. I hoped sooner or later I’d get cleared, and once I did, I was just relieved of a lot of stress.”

Now Robinson’s helping guide Valentine through this process. Should everything go according to plan, Valentine expects to receive his clearance Tuesday. But even if that proves to be the case, he’s still missed more than a week of fall camp, not to mention all the summer strength and conditioning work with Tommy Moffitt.

But Robinson said Valentine’s maintained high spirits through this ordeal and will report to campus with the proper mindset.

“I just told him to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst at the same time,” Robinson said. “It’s a bittersweet feeling coming in late. But as long as he gets here, he’ll be good. I just told him to keep praying on it.”

The coaching staff has also kept consistent contact with Valentine while he awaits clearance. Brick Haley and Corey Raymond, his lead recruiter, both expressed optimism that he’ll arrive sooner rather than later.

“When he gets here, he’ll come take care of his business, come do what he knows he has to do,” Raymond said. “He’s definitely ready to get here. That’s what he’s been working for, so hopefully this will all get done soon and we can get him here.”

It may be a tall order for him to contribute with little time to acclimate to the college game. Robinson did it, but playing corner is a much different beast than defensive tackle.

LSU could certainly use the depth though. Quentin Thomas is out indefinitely with injury, and behind him are a host of redshirt freshmen that are loaded with potential but lacking in experience. Valentine would fall into that same category, but at the very least, he provides another body.

“It’ll be a big boost,” Haley said. “As a position coach, your thought process is always, ‘I need one more.’ So if we can get him here, that kills that thought process. He’ll give us some depth inside and the opportunity to do some of the things we need to get done inside. His big body, his big presence would mean a lot.”

Valentine was the top defensive lineman LSU signed in the 2014 class, ranked nationally as the No. 2 defensive tackle. But getting through the Clearinghouse has nothing to do with physical prowess. It takes mental toughness, something Robinson has helped Valentine get right.

“He’s been occupying his mind, staying focused,” Robinson said. “I just told him to keep grinding and giving his all. Sooner or later the storm will clear, and he’ll be here.”



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