A highly recruited high school player from Louisiana chatted with interim coach Ed Orgeron before LSU’s 45-10 victory against Southern Miss on Oct. 15 in Tiger Stadium.
That wouldn’t be news under normal circumstances. LSU hosts a number of recruits on virtually every game day, especially prospects with Louisiana ties.
But this player was a Baton Rouge native who committed to Alabama only two weeks earlier. In his tweet announcing his commitment, the prospect wrote he was shutting down his recruitment and would no longer be taking any visits.
His name is Dylan Moses, the former University High standout who is the youngest player ever to receive a scholarship offer from LSU.
Moses was committed to LSU for two years before he decommitted in August 2015. LSU remained the favorite to land him until the 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker gave a verbal pledge to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide a week after LSU fired Les Miles in September.
For now, Moses is going elsewhere — to the program that has landed 247Sports.com's No. 1 recruiting class each of the past six years.
“Alabama is now a brand that can't be rivaled in college football,” said Mike Farrell, national recruiting director for Rivals.com. “I don't care what state it is. Whether it's A'Shawn Robinson leaving the state of Texas or Amari Cooper leaving the state of Florida or these Louisiana kids, they're going to want to go to Alabama for that reason."
Moses, now at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, is set to enroll early at No. 1 Alabama. If he maintains his commitment, it will be a rare instance of LSU losing a highly ranked in-state prospect.
Even before Orgeron — who was LSU’s recruiting coordinator — became interim coach, former recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson had placed an emphasis on “building the fence” around Louisiana. A few players, like Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson, headed out of state, but those cases have become the exception.
That wasn’t always the case, former LSU defensive line and current SEC Network analyst Marcus Spears said. In 2001, Saban’s second year at LSU, Spears was part of a No. 2 ranked recruiting class that featured a number of Louisiana prospects.
“It was different because, at the time we signed with LSU, it wasn’t necessarily the most popular choice,” Spears said. “It was a commitment because we had so many guys that were very good all from Louisiana at the time. … I know one thing that sticks out to me personally is Nick Saban telling me, ‘Don’t make a four-year decision. Make a 40-year decision.' ”
Nine of the top 10 players from Louisiana for the Class of 2016 picked LSU. The No. 1 player from the state in the 2017 class, Notre Dame defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, committed to the Tigers in March 2015. Shelvin also has an offer from the Crimson Tide.
The Tigers haven’t been that far behind Alabama on the recruiting trail in recent years. Over the six years Alabama has held the No. 1 spot in 247Sports' rankings, LSU has been in the top 10 in all but one of those years. In two of the past three years, the Tigers were in the top three.
So, Moses getting away would be noteworthy. At one point in his recruitment, he was one of the highest graded prospects in 247Sports' all-time recruiting rankings — higher even than current Tigers star Leonard Fournette, who chose LSU over Alabama in 2014. His star has faded a bit, and he's now a four-star recruit in Rivals' rankings.
“When it comes down to LSU versus Alabama for a kid from Baton Rouge that has a storyline like that,” said Shea Dixon, who covers recruiting for 247Sports, “you start to have the same kind of memories of Leonard Fournette and what it was like, what it meant to the city and the state to have been committed.”
Farrell said the result of a game like Saturday’s could have an impact on where a player decides to go to school. In general, Dixon doesn’t think any one game matters, but he said an LSU win could start a domino effect.
“If they win this game, that will go a really long way in terms of increasing Orgeron's odds of getting the job permanently, and that in turn would keep the staff together,” Dixon said. “I think if this staff sticks together, then they're going to finish with the top-five recruiting class.”