When Justin Maclin committed to play for Les Miles, there was a connection to the Tiger staff that not many other schools were able to offer.
Then running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Larry Porter played on the same offensive unit as James Maclin, Justin’s father, at Memphis State in the early 90s.
“Those two go way, way back,” said Justin of his father’s relationship with Porter.
When Porter later accepted the head coaching position at Memphis, many wondered where the Tigers stood with the Tennessee standout.
While Maclin and his family maintained that LSU would be the spot, a weekend visit to Baton Rouge put away any possible remaining doubts.
“For his mother and I, it was a really great experience because we got to not just meet with the coaches, but we were able to see the academic side of things,” said the elder Maclin. “That really put us at ease. LSU has things structured to where you would almost have to be trying harder to fail than if you wanted to succeed. That kind of environment wasn’t available to me when I went through the process.”
Though Porter, a lifelong friend, is no longer on the Tiger staff, the Maclin family is confident that LSU has the right coaches in place to create a winning formula.
“We really have a lot of respect for everyone on that staff, from coach Miles down to the assistants,” said the elder Maclin. “Even without Larry there, Justin knew that LSU was the place for him. The environment is one that he will succeed in.”
According to Justin, the relationship that defensive coordinator John Chavis built over the past few months helped his mind from drifting in thought.
“Coach Chavis and I talked a lot leading up to the time that coach Porter was leaving, and he kind of became a father-figure in the coaching ranks for me in a pretty short time,” he said. “He would keep me in the loop with how his linebackers looked, and he would always ask how my workouts and stuff were progressing.
“Right now I am at 6-foot-4, 229-pounds, and coach Chavis told me this weekend that I looked right about where he wanted me.”
On his visit, Maclin spent most of his time with Chavis talking about where he stood on the depth chart for next year’s team.
“The coaches want me at weakside linebacker, and I am going to fill in the spot right behind Ryan Baker,” Maclin said. “Coach Chavis said that I will definitely have time to come down to Baton Rouge and get some early reps, and that really got me excited.
“I am ready for the summer to get here, because the next step is getting with the team and finding out how I can help LSU win games next year.”
Maclin also spent time with Kelvin Sheppard, a junior middle linebacker for the Tigers who elected to pass up the NFL Draft and return for his senior season.
“Kelvin sat me down and walked me through some stuff I need to know and work on, and that was really cool of him,” Maclin said. “I am glad he decided to come back, because he can teach me and the younger guys the game before he leaves.
“It’s times like this visit when I realize that LSU is where I need to be,” he added. “It’s the best place for me.”