LSU has hosted two football prospects on official visits thus far in the 2009 season, and both have been big in more ways than one.
First, Les Miles and his staff hosted 6-foot-7, 315-pound offensive tackle Jermarcus Hardrick, who has been committed to the Tigers since April, for the season opener.
Then this past weekend Miles and co. rolled out the red carpet for another big-time offensive tackle prospect as James Stone – a 6-foot-4, 280-pounder from Nashville (Tenn.) Maplewood – spent a couple of days in Baton Rouge to watch the Tigers defeat ULL on Saturday.
“I had a good time and it was better than I expected,” Stone said. “I didn’t know what the atmosphere would be like since it wasn’t an SEC game, but it was real good.”
Stone chose to come in this past weekend as opposed to one of the more attractive games such as Florida or Auburn because his team played on Thursday night. It was a surprise to some that he planned to come at all because LSU hadn’t been mentioned much with regards to the four-star tackle’s recruitment. But he says that he has maintained steady contact with the Tigers since February.
“I stay in touch with coach Stud (Greg Studrawa/offensive line) and he always tells me how I would be a good fit for their program,” said Stone. “I’ve always had interest in LSU, but you never really know how much interest you have until you see a school. After seeing what they have, I feel better about them now.”
Some of the attractions that the country’s 14th ranked offensive tackle saw were the indoor facility and weight room, along with the Cox Academic Center for Student Athletes.
“Their facilities were real nice and they had everything you would like to see at a school,” he said. “I was impressed with everything the players have to work with.”
Stone, who is ranked No. 97 in the Scout 100, was hosted on his official visit by Stavion Lowe, and the true freshman offensive lineman helped provide a snapshot of the camaraderie that the Tigers have.
“We hung out after the game and I got along with all of them (players) real well,” said Stone. “They all were down to earth and made me feel at home.”
After enjoying a Saturday night in Baton Rouge, Stone did what nearly every recruit does when he takes an official visit to LSU.
“On Sunday we got up and went and ate breakfast with Coach Miles and the others (coaches),” said Stone. “They reinforced how much they wanted me and how LSU was a good fit for me. It was a good visit, and it was good to spend some time with the coaches.”
As of now, Stone has just one other official visit planned to Notre Dame for Oct. 17 when the Irish host USC. Aside from that he says he isn’t sure which schools will receive the other three official visits he has at his disposal.
“I’m really wide open right now and don’t have any favorites,” said Stone, who holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Stanford, Vanderbilt, and many others. “I’m not sure where I’m going to take the other visits to just yet.”
When Stone does take his other trips he will have something to compare them to as he says his visit to LSU gave him something to think about.
“LSU did a good job of showing me what they had and where I fit into their picture, and they took a step up with me,” he said. “I liked what I saw.”