Patrick Queen said he didn't waver from his commitment to LSU, made last February, for a second.
A consensus four-star recruit, the Livonia High standout could have picked just about any school in the country. But the second he got the LSU scholarship offer, Queen was ready.
His parents begged him to visit other schools, if only to consider all of his options. But to Queen, there were no other options.
He watched as the program was thrown into uncertainty after the midseason firing of coach Les Miles and the internal battle that unfolded in the search for a replacement.
But Queen had made a commitment to a school and to himself — not to any particular coach.
Queen was nervous when LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda proposed the idea of switching to linebacker from running back, where he played almost his whole career to that point.
Many high school running backs make the transition to linebacker in college. The only thing that mattered to Queen was LSU is the school he has dreamed about playing for since he was 5 years old watching football on TV.
“I got to thinking and realized I’ve seen everything I needed to see,” Queen said. “I talked to everyone I needed to talk to. Basically, we felt pretty comfortable with everything. So (my parents) were like, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I said, ‘I’m ready to shut it down, because I know what I want to do.’ ”
Linebackers were a major focus for LSU this recruiting cycle after losing Kendell Beckwith, Duke Riley and Tashawn Bower.
LSU signed the nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker, Jacob Phillips, out of Nashville, Tennessee, and added Tyler Taylor of Buford, Georgia — another four-star inside linebacker.
The Tigers missed out on the nation’s No. 3 outside linebacker: Willie Gay of Starkville, Mississippi, picked hometown Mississippi State despite previously giving a silent commitment to LSU, according to a report from The (Jackson, Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger.
That leaves Queen as the only outside linebacker headed to LSU this year. But just like everything else, Queen doesn't care what anyone else thinks.
“I don’t care what the rankings say; we have the No. 1 class,” he said. “Nobody can play with us.”
Despite his confidence, Queen never played linebacker before this season — mostly lining up at running back and dabbling at defensive back at times — and even then, he spent most of his senior season battling a high ankle sprain.
That Livonia needed Queen on both sides of the ball meant he would never get the chance to properly heal his ankle until after the season.
Coach Guy Mistretta said Queen had a solid year in spite of the injury, but there’s no confusion that Queen, the first player from Livonia to sign with LSU, has a long road ahead of him.
“As far as being ready right off the bat, he has the tools,” Mistretta said. “But until he steps on that field, you just don’t know. I had the opportunity to coach (offensive lineman) La’el Collins when he was in high school (at Redemptorist), and I thought, of any kid I ever coached, he was ready to step in — and even he had a big learning curve his first year and didn’t play much at all. Of course, he started the next three years.
"You just never know until they’re put on that field against that competition. Again, I have no doubt he has the tools for it, so how quick he picks up the scheme will determine that.”
Queen said he has confidence in Aranda’s ability to build up a linebacker and teach him the tools he needs for the position. It was ultimately Aranda who gave him the confidence to take on the challenge.
“We really talk a lot about other things outside of football,” Queen said. “That stuff helps with recruitment because the player knows the coach cares. It’s not like he’s just pulling me in and putting me to the side. He’s going to try. He’s showing me things that I need to see to be ready for college.”