There is little doubt that Ronnie Vinson is one of the best athletes in the state of Louisiana – regardless of class or classification.
According to Scout.com, Vinson is ranked among the top-25 safeties in the country for the 2010 class.
At LSU, the Newman High athlete won’t play any safety, instead making the move down to cornerback, a position LSU defensive backs coach Ron Cooper liked Vinson at after evaluating him last spring and summer.
As a senior this past fall, it mattered not what the recruiting services nor college coaches liked Vinson at. He was doing it all.
“I played running back, strong safety, kick returner, and a little bit of everything; whatever it took to get wins.”
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound prospect finished the year with 1,145 yards and 14 touchdowns on 138 carries, 211 yards and four touchdowns on 20 catches, 49 tackles, three pass break ups and a fumble recovery that he returned 108 yards for a touchdown.
On Nov. 6, in perhaps the best game of his high school career, Vinson led Newman to a 35-27 victory against rival Riverside High, finishing with 251 total yards and three rushing touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, the four-star defensive back was in on nine tackles and scooped up a fumble, which he returned 35 yards for a touchdown.
“I was definitely sore that next day,” Vinson laughed.
Friday nights like that are why the Tigers targeted the in-state talent early.
They were not alone. Vinson’s offer list hit double-digits, and included the likes of Alabama, USC and Ole Miss.
No matter how many calls from the coaches kept coming, Vinson never entertained the idea of wavering.
“There was never that second-thought moment,” he said. “When I committed, I was committed. That was it. Right then, I started to try to help recruit other guys.”
In 2010, Vinson has grown closest with fellow defensive back commitments Eric Reid and Tyrann Mathieu.
“I met Eric back at Junior Day, and we have been really close since we both committed,” Vinson said. “He was one of the first people I told when I decided I was going to give LSU my verbal pledge, even before I announced it publically.
“Tyrann is from New Orleans, and we clicked from the first time we met,” he added. “When I saw him at LSU’s camp, I knew he was the real deal. Sure enough, he got an offer that weekend and committed.”
For 2011, Vinson has his eyes on a number of prospects – though one fellow New Orleans name stands above the rest.
“We have to get Anthony Johnson,” he said. “With coach Frank Wilson now at LSU and not at Tennessee, I think we are definitely in a better spot. I am just ready for the switch to happen.
“From the time I saw him play when he was a sophomore, he would talk trash to anyone, and he could back them down, and that scared people,” he added. “I don’t even think he would back down to anyone from LSU’s team, and that is the kind of guy you want.”
Between now and when Vinson joins the Tigers in June, the four-star prospect is keeping his focus on developing as a cornerback.
“I am studying with my coaches now, trying to improve technique,” he said. “I am staying in shape this spring by running both the 100- and 200-relays with the track team.
“When I get to campus, I want to take advantage of the time I have to study under Patrick Peterson. He might not be there for more than a year once I get to school, so I want to take advantage of every bit of teaching he can bring to my game.”
Vinson, who earned All-District and All-Metro MVP, will take his official visit to LSU on Jan. 23, 2010. On Jan. 2, the four-star prospect will compete in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Myrtle Beach, S.C.