Spencer Ware fell in love with the Tigers the same way many out-of-state prospects do.
On his first visit to Baton Rouge and the LSU campus, Ware traveled from Cincinnati to attend the second session of the Les Miles Summer Camp.
Accompanied by his grandfather, the pair took in everything the campus had to see it – consider it an official visit, red carpet-type affair that helped push the rising senior prospect over the edge.
“I liked it so much that I have them a verbal [commitment],” said Ware last July.
Five months later, Princeton High’s season has come and gone, a 5-5 finish that saw the Vikings fail to make the playoffs.
However, don’t allow the wins and losses fool you.
Ware paid his dues.
As the do-it-all type quarterback, Ware rushed for 770 yards and 13 touchdowns on 176 carries. He passed for just over 1,000 yards.
The 5-foot-11, 215-pound prospect finished his career with more than 10,000 yards of total offense and accounted for over 100 touchdowns.
“We had him as the spread quarterback, but it was essentially just him lining up at tailback, taking the snap and going with it,” said Vikings head coach Bill Leach. “And whether he was taking a direct snap or we tossed the ball to him on a sweep, he has that extra gear that always kicked in.”
That “extra gear” is what likely had schools from across the map calling for his services, including the local team: Ohio State.
Yet when Ware made his commitment, he chose the Tigers over North Carolina, pointing to both the visit to Baton Rouge and his relationship with running backs coach Larry Porter as major selling points.
With Porter gone to Memphis as the head coach, and Frank Wilson in as the new running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, is Ware wavering?
“Not at all,” Leach said. “Unless there is something we don’t know about, like some major, major coaching overturn, which I don’t see happening, then he is dead set on LSU. He heard about the coach Porter news beforehand, and he took it well.
“He committed to the school, and coach [Les] Miles and his staff definitely do a good job of staying on him and keeping everyone in the loop. Right now, he is all LSU, and it has been that way since he got back from his official visit (Oct. 26 vs. Auburn) with all his brand new LSU hats and shirts.”
Ranked as the No. 9 running back in the country, Leach likes what a future spent on the bayou could bring for his senior athlete.
“He has been healthy, and if he stays healthy, he will make a really big impact,” he said. “I think they really do want him as a tailback, because he has the great instinct and vision. His ability to make adjustments is something you don’t see from a lot of guys.
“Spencer can get to the edge and hit the open field and run away with it, or he can get in the middle and run over a linebacker. You want to describe his style as a runner, but he is the type of athlete whose abilities are tough to describe.”
With the football season behind him, Ware has turned his focus to the next of the Vikings’ big-three sports.
“Our goal is to keep him occupied until we send him down to Baton Rouge, so he is back out with the basketball team right now for the first time since his freshman year,” Leach said. “They have a chance to make a deep run into the playoffs, and he is wanting to be a part of it.
“After that, he plays baseball in the spring and then is headed to LSU.”
While the days of football played under the lights of the Cincinnati skyline are behind Ware, the PHS standout has one final opportunity to suit up against high school competition.
“Spencer had such a good year and career that he was chosen to play in the US Army All-American Bowl,” Leach said. “He is pretty excited about that, and it is a tremendous honor. He can’t wait to get out there and show the country what he can do.”
Another place Ware is anxious to get to: Baton Rouge.
“He is all LSU, and once he graduates, he is headed right down there,” Leach said. “LSU is getting a solid kid, one who is confident in his abilities, but not arrogant. He has gotten lots of praise for those abilities, but he always reflects it onto his teammates. Spencer is just that kind of person.”