Football: It giveth and taketh away – Recruiting can be stressful business for coaches – Academics
Tim Buckley, Daily Advertiser, Feb. 9, 2014
UL football fans flocked into the Leon Moncla Indoor Practice Facility this past Wednesday to get their first look at the Cajuns’ recruiting class. / Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser
You win some. You lose some.
But when a commit flips, it’s never easy for the loser.
“That’s the part you hate,” said UL coach Mark Hudspeth, who unveiled a 2014 of 21 on National Signing Day last Wednesday. “And it’s no fun. But that’s part of it, and you move on and keep recruiting, keep trucking.”
UL lost at least four flips this past recruiting season – Mississippi junior-college offensive lineman David Adams to Middle Tennessee, Grenada (Miss.) High Genard Avery and Shareef White to Memphis and Holy Savoir Menard Central High offensive lineman John Leglue to Tulane.
But the Ragin’ Cajuns flipped at least two recruits themselves, prying Gadsden City (Ala.) High T.J. Posey away from Memphis and Gulfport-Harrison Central (Miss.) High defensive lineman LaDarrius Kidd away from Texas Tech.
Hudspeth played on Kidd’s penchant for hunting and fishing.
“I told him, ‘On the back of everybody’s car tag (in Louisiana), it says, SPORTMAN’S PARADISE,’ ” he said. “I can’t think of a better sell than our state.”
The Cajuns selected hosts for his recruiting visit with that in mind.
“We have a couple of guys on our team who we sort of have of drag out of the woods,” Hudspeth said, referencing kicker Hunter Stover and LSU-transfer linebacker Trey Granier.
Whether it involved anything more than skeet shooting, perhaps only they know.
“I don’t know if he killed anything or not,” Hudspeth said.
Either way, it worked. Kidd flipped to UL two days before National Signing Day.
“With his personality and his character,” Hudspeth said, “he’s gonna fit in just right.”
ACADEMICS SELLS LEGLUE
Leglue flipped to Tulane after getting a late offer he thought was better suited to his post-college plans.
It came just more than a week after he had committed to UL – and only day before National Signing Day.
“I felt comfortable in Lafayette and ULL is a great school,” Leglue told his hometown newspaper, The Town Talk of Alexandria. “The fans are great in Lafayette.”
But Leglue plans to major in pre-med, and Tulane has its own medical school.
When the Green Wave had another recruit flip elsewhere, creating an unexpected vacancy, the All-Cenla lineman was offered.
Leglue accepted without even taking an official visit to Tulane because, in the end, academics trumped athletics.
THREE YEARS LATER
One of the Cajuns’ 21 signees is well-traveled linebacker Darzil Washington, who signed with Texas A&M in 2011 and Hawaii in 2012 – but didn’t play with either program for academic reasons.
Instead, Washington played at two junior colleges – Eastern Arizona and, last season, East Los Angeles College in California.
He’s no stranger to UL, however.
Washington actually committed to the Cajuns coming out of West St. John High in the New Orleans area in 2011, but Texas A&M made him a late flip.
“Finally he’s got a chance to come back home,” Hudspeth said. “He told me the other day, ‘Coach, I knew I should have listened to you three years ago.’ ”
CRYER, TURNER SOLD EARLY
Cajun signee Lorenzo Cryer was committed to UL long before he caught 38 passes for 666 yards and 9-9 touchdowns for Riverdale High in the New Orleans area this past season.
He pledged back in May – becoming UL’s first high school recruit to commit – and didn’t waver afterward. Cryer credited a few things for that.
“UL felt like home to me. It felt like New Orleans to me,” he told Nola.com. “Every time I went there they made me feel like family.
“They also have a (winning) tradition up there. They emphasize school. If you miss class, they always have a penalty. There is accountability.”
Another Cajun signee from New Orleans who was sold early is Miller-McCoy Academy product Corey Turner, a cousin of UL senior-to-be receiver Jamal Robinson.
Turner pledged last June.
“I knew (it was) where I wanted to be the day I committed because there’s no place like UL. …
“This is something I’ve dreamed about my entire life,” he told Nola.com.