LSU crossed a major hurdle in the re-recruitment of former defensive tackle Travonte Valentine.
The school received assurances from the Southeastern Conference this week that Valentine would be eligible for the 2016 season if he did, in fact, rejoin the program, a source told The Advocate on Wednesday. LSU requested a ruling from the league on the once highly touted high school star – a move that speaks to the seriousness of the program’s interest in Valentine returning to Baton Rouge.
Valentine still needs to complete 13 hours of course work over the summer to qualify, another source confirmed. The 6-foot-3, 345-pounder has spent the last year at two junior colleges – Arizona Western and, currently, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
If he does return to LSU, the 6-foot-3, 345-pounder isn’t obligated to meet the normal requirements for junior college transfers. He can use an “exception” because he’s returning to his original school, according to NCAA rules.
Valentine said two weeks ago that he has a “50 percent chance” of returning to LSU. He’s visited Baton Rouge several times over the last few weeks, meeting with staff members, including defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, he said.
Valentine spent his freshman season at LSU before the team dismissed him for “not following team rules,” he said. The Miami native said he also has offers from Auburn and Mississippi State, but he would not be eligible to play at another Division I school this fall, aside from his original school, LSU.
Valentine said he should know in August if he passed the requisite amount of courses to become eligible in 2016.
Valentine, who would have three years of eligibility remaining, could be an immediate help at nose tackle in new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s 3-4 defense. It’s, somewhat, of an unstable position. Christian LaCouture, at 307 pounds, started at nose tackle at the beginning of spring practice before the staff moved Davon Godchaux, at 293 pounds, into that role with two weeks left in spring.
Valentine’s football career has been a roller coaster since he left Miami’s Champagnat Catholic-Hialeah as the third-ranked defensive tackle prospect in the 2014 class.
The Southeastern Conference never ruled him eligible during his true freshman season at LSU, despite the NCAA granting him eligibility. LSU coach Les Miles suspended him for spring practice in 2015 in what the coach suggested was academic in nature, and then dismissed him in the summer.
Valentine’s at his third school in the last year. Following his departure from LSU, he spent the fall semester at Arizona Western College, a powerhouse junior college in Yuma, Arizona. He was dismissed and enrolled at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in January.
Valentine played in Arizona Western’s first six games last season, registering 11 tackles and two sacks, before an arrest resulted in a dismissal from the school. On Oct. 15, 2015, Valentine was arrested and charged with a disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, according to court records obtained by The Advocate. The court dismissed the charge a month later. The arrest stemmed from a physical altercation.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.