It dates all the way back to last September, when John Chavis first handed out an LSU offer to Gooden. The Tigers' interest in him stuck, even after Chavis' departure to Texas A&M, with new coaches Ed Orgeron and Kevin Steele taking charge in his recruitment. Those two got a chance to host Gooden and his family for a visit this past weekend.
"LSU was the best school I’ve visited so far," Gooden said. "I’ve been to some top programs, and LSU was the best.”
Gooden has just about every major program already on his offer list. He said schools like Alabama, Ohio State, Mississippi State and nearby Tennessee have stood out to him, but now LSU's right there and pressing for the top spot in his recruitment.
He said LSU's the school recruiting him hardest, and that showed this weekend.
He arrived Saturday morning and had time to tour some of the campus and facilities before the Tigers' scrimmage that afternoon. He also spent some time around the current players, and his visit also included a lot of one-on-one time with Coach O, Steele and Les Miles.
"The whole LSU staff welcomed me with open arms," he said. "I can have a life after football if I choose to attend LSU."
The impression those coaches made could be something that really sets the Tigers apart once Gooden narrows things down.
“[Coach Miles is] a great coach," Gooden said. "He knows the game of football. He’s a man of God. I’m just building a relationship with him, because yesterday was like a meet and greet. He knows me, and he’s been recruiting me hard. But we talked a lot yesterday, not just about the game of football...
“Coach Steele, Coach O, I couldn’t get enough of them. I talk to them all the time. I look up to them like father figures. I talked to them like 100 times yesterday, before the scrimmage, on the sidelines during drills. They’re just great coaches. I got to sat down with them afterwards, studying film and learning how to get better.”
Gooden hopes to come back to Baton Rouge several times in the next year. He may attend the LSU spring game in April or a camp in July. He definitely wants to visit this fall to experience the gameday atmosphere.
At 6-foot-4, 280 pounds, Gooden could possibly play end or tackle on the next level. Coach O broke down exactly how they see him fitting in LSU's defense.
“They said I can come in and start," Gooden said. "They need defensive ends and pass rushers. The thing they like about my game is that I’m explosive, powerful and I’ve got that speed. Coach O loves that at defensive end. He’s looking for guys like that.”
Gooden plans to also visit Alabama, Clemson, Texas A&M and Tennessee this spring. He said he's in no rush to make a decision, but he may try to enroll early. Even then, he said he'll probably wait until after his senior season to shut things down.
But LSU has to like its position after his visit this past weekend.
"I just can't wait to come back," Gooden said.