Over the weekend, the LSU-Alabama football rivalry took on a whole new meaning in the household of St. Thomas More’s Bailey Raborn.
After rescinding a five-month commitment to punt and kick off for UCLA, Raborn changed his college path with a decision to join LSU’s team as a preferred walk-on in the same role.
That means when LSU hosts Alabama next Nov. 5, Raborn could oppose his older brother Gunnar, a sophomore reserve place-kicker for the Crimson Tide.
“I still love my brother,” Raborn said. “I never say the words, ‘Roll Tide’, but it’s been ‘Go Gunnar’. We’re excited to get on the field and compete against each other when the day comes.”
Bailey Raborn, the nation’s No. 2-rated punter according to kicking guru Chris Sailer, initially selected UCLA following a successful performance this summer at the Bruins’ camp, which prompted a scholarship offer and commitment.
“As soon as I committed to UCLA, I felt good and loved everything about it,” he said. “After a few months, I started thinking that I couldn’t leave Louisiana. I couldn’t leave all of my friends. I decided to decommit and see if I could get any looks at other schools.”
Mississippi State was one school to offer Raborn, a 6-foot, 195-pounder, while Southern Mississippi also expressed interest.
Because of his commitment to UCLA the week before, Raborn opted to bypass LSU’s kicking camp and went through his senior season without hearing from the Tigers.
Once he stepped back from his pledge, the Tigers ramped up their interest in Raborn, which led to a phone conversation with special teams coach Bradley Dale Peveto.
“He said I had a good chance of coming in and earning a job,” Raborn said. “From his enthusiasm on the phone, I could tell they really liked me and really wanted me here. It was my goal to get an offer, and I explained that since my brother was a preferred walk-on at Alabama, I wanted to help out my family and get a scholarship.”
LSU coach Les Miles explained his desire to have Raborn as a part of his program but initially it would have to be the identical route current scholarship kickers Trent Domingue and Colby Delahoussaye followed after beginning as preferred walk-ons.
Over the past two seasons, Raborn, a first-team All-District 4-4A kicker, has booted 72 percent (104 of 144) of his kickoffs for touchbacks.
This season, Raborn averaged 40.8 yards on 25 punts with a long of 63 yards and dropped 13 punts inside the 20-yard line. He was also 55-of-57 on extra points and 5-of-8 on field goals.
“There’s just something in the heart. I felt LSU’s in my blood,” Raborn said. “I’ve been going to games there since I was little. That was my dream school. I honestly never thought the opportunity to play there would happen, but when I got the chance, it was something I couldn’t risk not taking.”