Football recruiting cycle never ends for LSU’s Frank Wilson

Advocate Photo by KYLE ENCAR --LSU assistant coach, Frank Wilson(right), meets with LSU fan, Michael Nelms during the 2014 LSU Tiger Tour held at the Riverside Hilton on Sunday, May 18, 2014. Show caption
Advocate Photo by KYLE ENCAR --LSU assistant coach, Frank Wilson(right), meets with LSU fan, Michael Nelms during the 2014 LSU Tiger Tour held at the Riverside Hilton on Sunday, May 18, 2014.

Count LSU recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson among those who liked seeing the NFL draft moved into May.

The later date falls right in the middle of the spring evaluation period for colleges, giving Wilson even more ammunition for selling prospects on the Tigers.

Especially when for the second straight year LSU had a school-record nine players selected, five of them early entries. The four seniors plus the five juniors from last year represent the first full class for Wilson, who became recruiting coordinator 2010.

“To get them to begin with is rewarding,” Wilson said Sunday as the Tiger Tour made its annual stop in his hometown of New Orleans. “When those guys get their due is so gratifying in the draft because that’s a big part of what we sell them on when we’re recruiting them.”

LSU has been a recruiting powerhouse during its decade under Les Miles. It’s something offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who also spoke to the group Sunday, got to witness up close during his first year at the school after spending the previous 12 years in the NFL.

“It starts with Les,” Cameron said. “He loves people, which makes him a great recruiter.

“And then Frank is the best recruiting coordinator I’ve ever been around. He’s so organized and knows exactly what Les is looking for. Then he goes out and builds the relationships with the high schools that make the work for the other assistants easy.”

Of course, it helps to be in a state rich in football talent far outsizing its population.

LSU is coming off a year when its class was ranked second nationally thanks to the Tigers landing home-grown talent such as running back Leonard Fournette of St. Augustine, the national player of the year, and five-star wide receiver Malachi Dupre of John Curtis.

The 2014 Louisiana class was so loaded that the Tigers could lose top prospects such as tackle Cameron Robinson of West Monroe (to Alabama), wide receiver Speedy Noil of Karr (to Texas A&M) and linebacker Kenny Young of Curtis (to UCLA) and still have one of the country’s best classes.

“We always recruit from the inside out,” Wilson said. “And then, if we aren’t able to fill our needs at a position, we’ll go outside and look nationally.”

This year, the Tigers may have to do more national recruiting.

The in-state group for 2015 is not as deep as 2014’s, although players whom LSU is after, such as wide receiver Tyron Johnson of Warren Easton and safety Xavier Lewis of East St. John, should receive four-star ratings.

“Last year’s group in Louisiana was unprecedented,” Wilson said. “This one may have cooled off a little bit. But then in 2016, it’s going to be off the charts.”

LSU has 11 commitments for 2015, good enough for an early No. 6 ranking from Rivals.

More players should be added during the school’s invitation-only Bayou Picnic on May 31, with others coming on board during elite camps in June and July.

It’s all part of feeding the beast that is LSU football.

That means a nonstop recruiting cycle although, as the team’s running backs coach, Wilson said he devotes 100 percent of his time during the season toward those duties.

Recruiting still gets anything beyond that, even if that sounds impossible.

And, given the standards LSU sets for the players it targets, many stay for only three years instead of the full four or five.

“The draft shows that we’re recruiting the right guys,” Wilson said. “It means that they knew that, in coming to LSU, they would be motivated, developed and coached in the right way. Athletes around the country are told that they will get the preparation and training to get to the National Football League. I think at LSU, we’re doing as good a job as anybody in the country.”