It’s not often that a coaching staff gets to host a junior prospect on an unofficial visit during the season when there are nearly 1,500 miles that separate the two parties.
However, LSU was fortunate enough to get a visit from 2011 defensive end Jalen Grimble this weekend and the Las Vegas-Bishop Gorman product was glad he made the trek down to Baton Rouge.
“I liked it a lot,” Jalen said. “It was real nice weather and everything was real nice. I liked the coaches and the energy they had with the team. They are non-stop cheering each other on. If a player made a mistake they coached them up instead of just jumping on them.”
Jalen and his father Jerry flew into Baton Rouge late Saturday morning and got over to campus around 1 p.m. Due to the late arrival and the normal routine that the team and coaches go through in preparation for the game there wasn’t time for the Grimble’s to get the full tour of campus.
Instead, Jalen and Jerry spent time at the Football Operations Building where they met with defensive coordinator John Chavis and defensive line coach Brick Haley.
“We mostly talked with Coach Haley about which players are graduating and who’s moving where,” said Jalen. “He talked to me a lot about the tradition of the school and how I can come in and make a contribution to the team.”
After meeting with Haley and getting a tour of the athletic facilities Jalen and his father headed over to Tiger Stadium for a pre-game meal and a little more socializing with the coaches and other recruits in the Lawton Room. That also gave him an opportunity to meet his cousin for the first time – LSU linebacker Barkevious Mingo.
Once that was done then it was time to get an up close and personal look at what is commonly referred to as Death Valley.
“It was incredible for it to not be that many people there,” Jalen said recognizing that Tulane did not attract the same type of crowd if it would have been an SEC contest. “It was still real wild and the stadium was real, real big. It was almost scary standing on the field and seeing how big it was. It was incredible.”
Just prior to kickoff, Jalen and his father made their way to their seats to watch the Tigers dismantle Tulane 42-0. It was LSU’s first shutout since logging a 44-0 victory over Middle Tennessee on Sept. 15, 2007, and it made a good impression on the standout defensive end.
“Their defense is real good especially with the D-ends and linebackers,” said Jalen, who has now been to games at LSU, USC, UCLA and Utah. “And their DBs are maybe just as good as the front seven. It was incredible to see how good they were. They definitely impressed me.”
Sunday morning was an early start for Jalen and his father as they flew out of Baton Rouge just before 7 a.m. Despite not having the chance to sit down with academic advisors and to see as much of the campus as he would have liked, Jalen said that he saw enough in the 17 hours that he spent on campus to know one thing.
“I seen a lot that makes we want to come back,” he said. “Eventually I’ll come back.”
And when he does return, Jalen can expect someone else to make the trip with him.
“We will be back,” said his father Jerry. “It may be an official visit or an unofficial visit but we will be back.”
Though Jalen still has 15 months until he signs with a school most seem to think that USC is the team to beat. The Trojans have a commitment from Jalen’s cousin – Xavier – for the 2010 class and Pete Carroll extended an offer to Jalen in June after he puts his skills on display at USC’s Rising Stars Camp.
The Trojans expect to be a major player in the race for Jalen’s signature but he is far from being ready to give one team the nod over the many others that have offered.
“It’s way too early to think about that kind of stuff,” Jalen said. “My dad doesn’t even let me think about it or talk about it. He says that we won’t talk about it until after the season. I’m just worried about helping my team win state and that’s all for now.”
One reason Jalen isn’t putting much emphasis on recruiting right now is due to the fact that his Bishop Gorman squad is preparing for a run in the state playoffs. The Gaels finished the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record and the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Jalen has 50 tackles and five sacks on the year.
When it does come time for the Grimble’s to sit down and talk recruiting, expect LSU to be in that conversation according to Jerry.
“When we first got there we got to see all of the (athletic) facilities but didn’t get to tour the campus or meet with the academic advisors,” said Jerry. “And that stuff is important because academics are just as important as football. But from a parent’s perspective, I was very impressed and they will be considered and in the mix when it comes time for making a decision.”