NEW ORLEANS — On his way to the Riverside Hilton on Tuesday on the Tiger Tour, Les Miles undoubtedly was tempted to detour by 2600 A.P. Tureaud or 3332 Huntlee Drive in Algiers.
Those are the locations of St. Augustine and Karr high schools, both with multiple players the Tigers are recruiting, including five-star running back Leonard Fournette of the Purple Knights.
But because of NCAA rules, head football coaches aren’t allowed to make on-campus visits during this week, so Miles had to limit himself to referring obliquely to the objects of his desire, while encouraging the faithful to talk up LSU should the occasion arise.
“If I was allowed to be in a local high school, there are certainly several I would have visited,” Miles said, drawing plenty of knowing smiles. “One would have a number of players and another would have a number of players.
“I truly can’t talk about positions, but speaking of running backs, I think it’s going work out well. He might be wearing a similar color to ours now.
The football Tigers are annual visitors to Top 10 recruiting lists, which has made them a Top 10 team for much of Miles’ eight-year tenure.
The basketball Tigers, not so much recently.
But second-year coach Johnny Jones has a six-man class rated in the Top 10 by most services. And All-SEC forward Johnny O’Bryant is returning for his junior season after bypassing the NBA draft.
“A lot of positive things are happening for us,” said Jones, whose first team at LSU went 19-12, snapping a three-year streak of losing seasons. “Raising your recruiting level is always tough, because year-in and year-out, you’re competing against some universities with a lot of resources.
“But we’ve been fortunate enough to use the connections we had coming in from Texas and locally. The excitement is definitely there again.”
You don’t get them all though.
Earlier Tuesday, highly touted junior college wide receiver D’Haquille Williams said he was decommitting from the Tigers’ Class of 2014.
And surprisingly so, Myles was OK with it.
“I’m all for it,” he said. “If a player wants to decommit but still stay interested and it’s still this early, we’ll continue to have a scholarship for him and continue to recruit him.”
Williams, who prepped at East St. John and has played a year at Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College, is rated the No. 1 juco wide receiver prospect in the country.
Tuesday’s conversation was all about recruiting.
Miles would not comment on the status of suspended running back Jeremy Hill but said he was not concerned about depth at the position, even though the Tigers’ system has been based on not having a feature back.
“We’re going to be fine there,” he sad. “Alfred Blue, Kenny Hillard, Terrence Magee are really, really quality backs.
“We’ve got others we could move in there, but nobody would be better than those three.”
Miles seemed just as happy about the depth of the defensive line, despite heavy losses to the NFL there.
“We’ll take people like Anthony Johnson, Ego Ferguson, Jermauria Rasco, Jordan Allen,” he said. “Players move on, but we had eight incoming freshman who have been on campus since January and participated in spring practice. We’ll be OK.”
Jones: Morgan Staying
Guard Malik Morgan, who reportedly had asked for his release after one year with the Tigers, will be staying, Jones said.
“He’s not going anywhere,” Jones said of Morgan, who prepped at John Curtis. “Sometimes there are distractions, but Malik was tremendously excited about being at LSU in the first place, and he’s had a chance to understand the big picture.
“He’s got class people around him and close to him. We’ll always be in the positions you have to recruit guys coming in, and a lot of times, you have to recruit guys to stay as well.”