Getting Defensive on Junior Day

Some of the state's best talent assembled in Baton Rouge Saturday for LSU's annual Junior Day.

Not excluded from this festivity was an exciting group of speedy linebacker/strong safety prospects from around the Pelican State.

Tiger Rag caught up with four players from this mold, each hailing from perennial LHSAA powerhouses.

Of the four, Southern Lab LB Earl Patin was the only to receive an offer on the day. "Coach Miles told me he wanted me to stay here in purple," remembered Patin.

The 6-2, 215 pound linebacker also mentioned that he got a chance to spend some time with defensive coordinator and Linebacker Coach Bo Pelini.

"I really like the linebacker's coach, plus I had gotten a chance to work with him before at LSU's camp last season. I've been going to their camps here since the ninth grade," added Patin.

However, when asked how he took the news of the offer, Patin said, "I was excited, but I haven't said anything yet and haven't made a decision." Surely, Earl will have plenty of time to do that heading into his senior season- a campaign he can't wait to begin.

"Right now I just can't wait for next season and I'm mainly working on increasing speed, but checking out the campus helped LSU's chances a little," responded Patin, who already possesses a swift 4.65 clocking in the forty.

Another speedy defender gearing up for the 2006 season is St. Thomas More's Grant Fleming.

"I can't wait to make it to state. Every year, St. Thomas More comes so close. I just want to be a part of the first team to make it there and win it," explained Fleming.

The Lafayette resident also liked a lot about his trip to Baton Rouge, calling the facilities "very nice" and adding that this trip piqued his interest in visiting some other schools.

"This was really the first school that I visited and I'd like to see some more campuses so that I could compare what I've already seen here at LSU," said the versatile Fleming, who has been excelling at both strong safety and linebacker.

Fleming also went on to mention that he cut out a little early on junior day and unfortunately missed many of the coaches who were still at the practice taking place in the later afternoon.

Moving toward the northern part of the state, linebackers C.C. Carpenter of West Monroe and Dusty Rust of Captain Shreve have both made solid splashes onto the state football landscape after standout junior seasons.

Carpenter, an all-state performer, spoke candidly about his trip citing the weight room and other athletic facilities as highlights of the day. His day also included talking with a bunch of players from around the state, something which the 6-1, 210 pound Carpenter enjoyed.

Along with meeting some other players, C.C. added, "I talked with Coach Pelini more than anyone else. I liked hanging out around him and just getting to know some things about him. We definitely talked for a while."

When asked about the official offer, Carpenter revealed, "No, I didn't get an offer while I was there but a bunch of the coaches came up and told me they really liked the way that I play and that they're interested."

The West Monroe product will have one more season to make a name for himself on a bruising Rebel defensive unit, which also boasts DL Will Blackwell and DE Luther Davis.

The fourth and final linebacker chirping about junior day was Dusty Rust, a lightning quick player on a Captain Shreve team that fell to St. Martinville in last year's regional round of the playoffs.

Rust recalled about his day, "I didn't get to talk to many of the coaches, but I thought they had incredible facilities. To tell you the truth, I was most impressed with their huge academic center. It was really impressive."

He then told Tiger Rag, "LSU is the only college I've really got to visit and look around at this point. It helped to get down there and see some of that, but I've always wanted to go to LSU anyway."

These words certainly come as fabulous news for Tigers fans, whose team has always enjoyed a successful pipeline to Shreveport for gridiron talent.

All in all, junior day can only bring good things for Tiger teams of the future. With such an impressive spread of athletic and academic facilities, many a student-athlete marvels at the opportunities which could await them. In addition, the players can talk with coaches who previously may have just been a voice on a phone.

These four linebackers are part of a deep crop of quick defensive talent around the state. With the versatility they provide, they could become perfect cogs in Bo Pelini's system, which in part features quick outside linebackers such as Ali Highsmith.

It's safe to say the well is not running dry on in-state linebacking talent for the '07 class.

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