Let the Kendell Beckwith derby begin.
Louisiana’s top prospect for 2013 is taking his official visit to Alabama this weekend, his first trip to the UA campus this season.
It’s a battle between the Crimson Tide and LSU, which is considered to be the front-runner for the East Feliciana standout at this point.
Beckwith (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) has attended several LSU games on unofficial visits this season. He is scheduled to take his LSU official visit Jan. 18.
However, Beckwith has made it known that he will announce his commitment live on ESPN while playing in the Under Armour All-American Game, Jan. 4 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Shea Dixon, recruiting analyst for 24/7 Sports site Geaux24/7, said this is Alabama’s make-or-break weekend in its bid to land Beckwith’s commitment.
“This is their first chance to host him this season,” Dixon said. “His team made the playoffs (reaching the state semifinals), so he didn’t go to the Iron Bowl. It’s a safe bet he’s been to at least three LSU games.”
Dixon said he believes LSU remains in good shape with Beckwith, in large part because of the personal relationship recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson has built with Beckwith and his family.
“LSU has done just about everything you can,” Dixon said. “Frank went to Kendell’s semifinal game last week and he was tailgating with Kendell’s mother and friends and family. The rapport with Kendell is the best it can be. If he ends up at Alabama, it would be because he was never serious about LSU.”
Beckwith is rated No. 19 nationally on the ESPN 150, No. 84 on the Rivals 100, No. 99 on the 24/7 Sports Top 247 and No. 124 on the Scout 300.
While Beckwith is weighing his options, Sealy, Texas, wide receiver/athlete prospect is preparing to announce his choice Monday between LSU and Texas A&M.
A former Texas commitment, Seals-Jones (6-5, 230) is ranked No. 10 by Scout, No. 13 by ESPN, No. 19 by 24/7 Sports and No. 27 by Rivals.
Dixon said he feels A&M is in the same position with Seals-Jones that LSU is in with Beckwith.
“I’d be surprised if he doesn’t go with A&M,” Dixon said. “(LSU assistants) Adam Henry and Thomas McGaughey have been leading the charge there, but he can stay close to home and A&M is telling him he can play right away. I think LSU has done all it can.”
Meanwhile, LSU is back in the running for the nation’s top-rated inside linebacker prospect.
Rueben Foster (6-2, 242) of Auburn (Ala.) High School decommitted from Auburn University after Auburn recruiting coordinator Trooper Taylor was fired in the wake of Gene Chizik’s dismissal.
Foster has expressed interest in Georgia and Washington and also took an unofficial visit to LSU on Oct. 13 for the South Carolina game.
However, Foster told ESPN earlier this week that he plans to follow Taylor to which ever school hires him.
Foster is ranked No. 2 nationally by Scout, No. 6 by Rivals, No. 10 by 24/7 Sports and No. 24 by ESPN.
LSU is not expected to host any recruits this weekend, but the Tigers are planning a big recruiting push for next weekend.
According to 24/7 Sports, among the prospects who could be coming to campus are four-star safety/athlete prospect Jamal Carter (6-1, 190) of Miami Southridge, a current Miami Hurricanes commitment. He is expected to join Priest Willis (6-2, 199), a five-star defensive back prospect from Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos de Niza, who will apparently finally make it to LSU after several aborted visits.
Four-star safety Tahaan Goodman (6-2, 184) of Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) may also visit. Goodman is good friends with Willis and there have been some reports both would like to attend the same school.
The Tigers have also apparently landed a visit from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University defensive tackle Maquedius Bain (6-5, 285), ranked No. 43 on the ESPN 150.
LSU’s recruiting class, which has 23 commitments, is currently ranked No. 6 by Rivals and Scout, No. 7 by 24/7 Sports and No. 8 by ESPN.
Bowl practice begins Thurs.
After a layoff for fall semester final exams, the LSU Tigers return to practice Thursday in preparation for the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl against Clemson in Atlanta.
LSU will practice eight times on campus between Dec. 13-22 before taking a three-day Christmas break.
The team will depart Dec. 26 for Atlanta.
Coach Les Miles will hold a pre-bowl news conference on Wednesday and the team will conduct its senior banquet on Dec. 16.