FEINSWOG: Where does Perrilloux rank?

I've been here for 20 years. In that time, LSU's had a few good athletes come and go. You might remember Shaquille O'Neal. There was Michael Clayton and Todd Walker.

There have been others of note, of course. Their names dot pro rosters all over, from Kevin Faulk to Marie Ferdinand to Stromile Swift. There have been Olympians and other stars in their own right.


Until last week, just two, however, had created quite the stir in those two decades that we saw emanating from a place called East St. John.


More recently, the most attention went to Seimone Augustus, the product of Capitol High School in Baton Rouge whom LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said at the time was the most important recruit in school history. I'm not making that up.


Augustus is really good. LSU now has the best women's basketball team in the land. And the Lady Tigers play at home in front of the biggest crowds the school has ever seen for their sport. Bertman, obviously, was right, with an asterisk.


Before Augustus came Josh Booty, the product of Evangel Christian in Shreveport who turned down LSU to play baseball for the Florida Marlins. But the curve ball was a big problem and Booty ultimately chose to give college football a shot. When the quarterback did, LSU actually staged a news conference for him when he showed up on campus.


There was something oddly eerie about that day, much like Booty's career at LSU.


Anyway, fast forward to the past few months, when a young man from Reserve named Ryan Perrilloux announced that his commitment to the University of Texas was no longer a hard commitment but a soft commitment and that he would make visits to other schools, not the least of which was LSU.


Somewhere during that time a couple of things happened. Most significant, evidently, was that former LSU assistant coach Mike Haywood, then recruiting coordinator at Texas, bolted for his alma mater, Notre Dame, where he is now offensive coordinator.


Haywood was, apparently, the main link for Perrilloux to Texas, not its great academic status, nor wonderful Austin environment, nor head coach Mack Brown, nor its longstanding football tradition.


So Perrilloux basically said "game on" and bring it on and LSU did. Especially after Nick Saban left for the Miami Dolphins. New coach Les Miles made Perrilloux Chore 1. He went to see him right away and courted him right up to the time his signed fax arrived at LSU on signing day.


And Miles made no secret of how excited he was.


He praised Perrilloux's on-field abilities and recognized that he was important in helping LSU sign other recruits.

Miles felt great for a few reasons, not the least of which was he signed an important big-name player who helped round out what earlier in the week looked as if might be an average class at best. And he beat out Texas' Brown for a big-name recruit, which is no easy thing. Texas usually gets what Texas wants. That's why his detractors, usually Texas fans, call Brown "Coach February," since he's such a recruiting master. If only he could beat Oklahoma.


Now that Miles is at LSU and not at Oklahoma State, he doesn't have to worry about UT or Oklahoma anymore except in February.


This whole recruiting thing has changed so much. Twenty years ago, it was rare that a kid held a news conference to announce his college choice. Sure, they had signings at school and still do, but it wasn't big news except in rare cases. Now, with the recruiting frenzy that has spawned websites and recruiting gurus and Bayou Bashes, it's a science of its own.


Of course, it's an inexact science. Schools are wrong about some kids, more right than they realized on some others, and rarely does a recruiting class show in reality five years later what it was predicted to do on the day the kids signed.


The joke in the South used to be that there were two sports, football and spring football. Heck, LSU isn't even having a spring game this year, so it must football, recruiting and, I guess women's basketball. After all, Bertman never said Perrilloux was the most important recruit in LSU history.




Lee Feinswog is the author of "Tales From The LSU Sidelines," a Baton Rouge sportswriter and host of the television show Sports Monday. Reach him at (225) 926-3256 or lee@sportsbatonrouge.com.

Tiger Blitz Top Stories