Did Faulk make the grade?

There are several LSU signees from the 2009 class that were close to being academically qualified but still had some work to do. Four-star offensive tackle Chris Faulk was one of those guys and he now knows where he stands.

As a football player with an enormous upside and college potential Chris Faulk admits that academics were not always his main focus during his first two years at Slidell (La.) Northshore.


“I was just messing around and not paying attention in class,” Faulk said. “I didn’t really think too much about you have to have grades to play football in college.”


Northshore head coach Mike Bourg and athletics director Tom Gainey summoned Faulk to the football coaches’ office one day late in his sophomore year to urge him to focus more on his studies. Faulk said that he began to put a little more time and focus into his studies from that point on and the reward for his labor was more than he ever imagined.


“He finished with a 2.75 core GPA and he has a 66 composite on the ACT so he’s ready to roll,” Gainey said. “We’re sending his official transcripts to the [NCAA] Clearinghouse as soon as they’re ready and he’s going to be fully qualified to play at LSU.”


Faulk overcame tremendous odds that many felt were insurmountable at one point in time. While he had to do the work and put in the extra time there are many others who deserve credit for helping him maximize his potential, not only on the field, but also in the classroom.


“It says a lot about a lot of people that he made it,” Gainey said. “Ms. Mary Wahden runs a tutoring program here at school and there were so many teachers involved. Ms. Janet Frissard helped him with his Math and Ms. Wahden helped him with his English. It really was a total team effort with all of the tutors and coaches together. And give Chris a lot of credit because he put in the time and earned it all.”


There were so many variables in play for Faulk, who had a 1.9 core grade point average heading into the spring of his junior year. The administration at Northshore High School along with the determination of Faulk was the driving force, but some news he received in May of his junior year gave him that extra push that helped him get over the hump in more ways than one.


“I guess when LSU came to the school and offered me a scholarship I realized the opportunity that I had,” said Faulk, who also had offers from Michigan, Nebraska, Arkansas and several others. “That was my dream school that I always wanted to go to so from that point on I started paying attention in class and became a man.”


Days after receiving the offer from LSU, Faulk gave Les Miles his verbal commitment, thus realizing that his dream was within grasp. He officially became a Tiger when he signed his national letter of intent on Feb. 4. That day brought a lot of excitement to Faulk and his parents, but perhaps not as much excitement as they experienced this past Saturday when he walked across the stage at Southeastern Louisiana University and accepted his high school diploma.


“They were so excited and it was a great feeling to walk across that stage,” Faulk explained. “They were so proud of what I did because I had never made honor roll on every report card until my senior year. I made all As and Bs and they were just so proud that I accomplished my goal of being able to go to college and play football at LSU.”


Now that Faulk, who was a Parade All-American and the No. 21-ranked offensive tackle in the country according to Scout.com, has completed another leg of his journey in school and on the football field he must turn his attention to getting ready for the rigorous summer conditioning schedule at LSU.


Due to the hairline fracture in his arm that he suffered in the 2009 U.S. Army All-America Game and the extra hours spent studying from January until he finished final exams a week ago, Faulk wasn’t able to workout under the regimen that LSU strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt prescribes to all of the incoming freshmen.

Chris Faulk's wait to move to Baton Rouge is less than four weeks away

“My doctor just released me last week to start working out again because I started working out too early and it set me back,” said Faulk, who was bench pressing in the 340-350 pound range before the injury. “Today [Monday] will be my first workout with weights and I’ll start working out twice a day.”


While he hasn’t been able to lift weights, Faulk has had plenty of conditioning to keep him in shape.


“I’ve been running and it’s a lot of 110s and movement stretches to help with my speed,” he said. “It’s tough but I love working hard and it takes a lot of hard work.”


Increasing his strength is something that Faulk will have to work on if he is going to play as a true freshman at LSU and that holds true for any offensive lineman that makes the leap to the college level. Faulk said that offensive line coach Greg Studrawa informed him that he will start out at left tackle – a position that is currently occupied by senior Ciron Black and backed up by sophomore Greg Shaw – but other than that there hasn’t been a lot said of what the staff expects of him in his freshman season.


“They just tell me to come in ready because you never know what will happen,” Faulk said. “They know I haven’t been able to workout for a while so they’re just glad that I’m qualified right now.”


Expectations from the staff are a little unclear and Faulk admits that he still hasn’t grasped the reality of the situation to look that far ahead.


“I’m still just so happy that I’m qualified that it really hasn’t hit me yet,” he said. “I tried not to think much about football until I got my grades in order and now I’m still kind of stunned by it all.”


Faulk, who will room with Chris Davenport, will move to Baton Rouge on June 5 and will enroll in summer school so that he can start working towards his degree in Education and take part in the summer workouts that his new teammates will go through.


Faulk knows that things will be much different now that he will be a small fish in a big pond but it’s a feeling that he can’t wait to experience.


“It’s going to be just like four years ago when I went to high school and I was a freshman,” he said. “That was a long journey to where I am now. I was able to work my way up and get where I needed to be. I’m going to have to work harder now but I can’t wait to start.”


It was a long journey for Faulk but one that he didn’t have to travel alone. He can thank Bourg, Gainey and many other coaches who helped him over the years.


But there are several teachers that deserve just as much credit because they have given him tools that will stick with him long after his days on the gridiron are completed.


“I can’t begin to thank them enough,” he said. “They stuck with me everyday and I owe them a lot. I’ll always be grateful for what they helped me do and I’ll never forget them. I knew that hard work would always pay off but I never knew that I could work that hard and get so much out of studying.”

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