The commitment came on May 12, and for LSU fans, it was a punch square in the mouth.
The Tigers had Frank Wilson, one of the nation’s most heralded recruiters, on their side for the first time, and early work by the Louisiana-native turned out nine in-state commitments before the spring’s evaluation period. The lone out-of-state pledge came from the Lone Star State’s Trevon Randle, ranked by Scout.com as the No. 4 outside linebacker in the country.
For LSU football, that was considered starting at top speed. Previous classes often wouldn’t reach that number until the following fall. And in a 2011 class that is being touted as one of the most talented in the state’s history, it was a lightning-quick jump out of the gates that couldn’t have come at a better time.
With everything running smooth, May 12 brought the first hurdle. South Plaquemines standout Bradley Sylve, a four-star wide receiver prospect and one of the nation’s elite high school sprinters, committed to Nick Saban and Alabama.
In an interview shortly after his commitment, Sylve told Scout.com, “Both places are the best-of-the-best in the SEC, and that is where the big time football down here is. I just consider it an honor to have a shot at playing at either place.”
While Sylve admits that the Junior Day activities in February brought him close to committing to the Tigers, it was the push from the Tide staff over the next couple of months that helped steer him out-of-state.
The move from LSU: attack harder.
“I would definitely say that LSU picked the pace back up,” Sylve said. “They are making it clear how much of a priority I am to them. Whenever my commitment went down, I started talking with both Frank (Wilson) and (wide receivers coach) Billy (Gonzales) a good bit, and lately it’s just been a lot of Frank. I can tell he wants me staying here in Louisiana.”
Wilson invited Sylve to campus for the program’s Family Day in early June, a Saturday cookout that saw the LSU staff and all 10 committed prospects from in-state gather with their families to host the rest of the bayou’s top talent.
“I felt pretty good about LSU after that,” Sylve said. “That Family Day was definitely some fun. Seeing all the commitments was cool. I’ve sort of been on the silent since my verbal to Alabama, but I’m paying attention to it all.”
As far as trips to Baton Rouge are concerned, Sylve isn’t done yet.
“I’m coming back up there in July, and I’ll probably camp,” he said. “It just depends on how I’m feeling with my ankle. I’ll make the trip no matter what, though.”
Wednesday’s 7-on-7 in LaPlace, La. marked the first time the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder had been back in a practice setting with South Plaquemine, which recently experienced a coaching change with the departure of Cyril Crutchfield.
“Coach Shane Williams is working with us right now, and (Wednesday) was our first day really practicing,” Sylve said. “We hadn’t worked on offense or defense, but we came out and did our thing. With all we’ve been through, I think we played well.
“I’m excited about this coming year, especially after I had to sit out the entire season last year,” he added. “The first game will have been a long time coming. Right now, my ankle is at about 80-percent. The doctor told me that in two more weeks everything should be perfect, so I’m on pace.”