There is little doubt that for the 2011 class, North Carolina’s Nigel King is one of the nation’s top wide receiver prospects.
With early offers from a slew of universities, King narrowed his focus to a pair of schools: LSU and North Carolina.
Last Friday, the Wakefield High junior had planned to announce his college destination at a school press conference.
Instead, King called things off.
“I got a phone call from coach [Les] Miles early that morning, and we talked for a good bit about my process and what I wanted to do with my future,” he said. “I told him how I was feeling, and then he let me know that there was a spot for me in the class, but I should not rush anything until I get to know coach [Billy] Gonzales.”
King, who was being recruited to LSU by former wide receivers coach D.J. McCarthy, said that he and Miles were on the same page throughout the conversation, and that LSU stands in an even better spot than they did prior to the phone call.
“Getting to actually talk with coach Miles was good, because D.J. recruited me, showed me around on my entire campus visit and everything like that,” King said. “When he was replaced, I have to admit, I had no real relationship going with any of the other coaches.
“That is the major reason why coach Miles wants me to play it cool for a while. I have to get to know coach Gonzales and he has to feel me out as a person and player, and I understand that.”
Gonzales, who is not on the recruiting trail for LSU yet, will get an eye on the three-star prospect early next summer.
“Coach Miles said that the best time for coach Gonzales to get to know me is an environment where he could coach me up, so [Miles] wants me to come down to his first summer camp,” King said. “I am definitely going to be there, and something could happen pretty soon after that trip.
“I know I am going to be making my decision sometime before my senior year starts.”
One reason for the early decision is King’s January 2011 enrollment into the university of his choosing.
“I am a December graduate, and that is something coach Miles said he liked about me,” he said. “I talked a lot with Russell Shepard during my visit about graduating early, and he said it was the best decision he has made. Just getting adjusted to campus and learning to balance academics and football early is something not many people get a chance to take advantage of.”
King met Shepard, as well as a number of other Tigers, during his unofficial visit to Baton Rouge for the season finale against Arkansas.
“It was an awesome time, and one of the big reasons that I am so high on LSU,” King said. “I knew it would be loud and all that, but it was the atmosphere that blew me away. The people were all just extremely nice, and the players took me in with that same welcoming attitude.”
During his tour of the locker room and indoor facilities, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound wide receiver prospect ran into a couple of names that he had followed all season.
“Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver were in the indoor facility and told me to come kick it with them, and they were both really laid back and funny,” King said. “I was amazed at how tall they were. I knew LSU had big guys, but they were huge. It showed me that LSU, and the SEC, is the real deal.”
As a sophomore, King totaled 853 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns.
After a minor hip injury forced him to miss nearly half of his junior season, King picked up where he left off, accumulating 447 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in his first six games back. He finished the season with 12 total touchdowns.
“For now, I am just going to lay back and let time pass until I can get down to Baton Rouge this summer,” he said. “North Carolina is definitely still in it, because I really am feeling them. But, LSU was that first team to offer. September 1st rolled in, and the Tigers were right there.
“That was big for me.”