LSU has banned television stations from shooting live scenes on the field before the Tigers’ game Saturday against No. 4 Alabama, and the school has more than 100 reasons for the move.
LSU (7-2, 3-2 Southeastern) is hosting more than 100 prospects at Saturday’s game, likely the biggest group in Baton Rouge in years, said Shea Dixon, reporter for Geaux247, 24/7 Sports’ site covering LSU. They’ll be flooding the LSU sideline before the game against the Tide (7-1, 4-1).
The list of prospects includes 20 players who have offers from both Alabama and LSU and more than 10 five-star players, Dixon said.
“Down from seniors to sophomores, a large majority are SEC-caliber players,” Dixon said. “It’s probably one of the most impressive visitor lists in at least a couple of years, and maybe more than that.”
Four players are on official visits this weekend, meaning LSU covers the cost for the prospect and his parents or guardians. They include LSU commit and the nation’s No. 2 cornerback, Kevin Toliver; OL William Sweet, a four-star North Carolina commit from Florida; OL Matthew Burrell, ranked the No. 5 guard in the nation; and the No. 1 outside linebacker, Malik Jefferson.
Because of the sheer number of prospects on campus this weekend, Dixon said, there is a high probability that LSU will land a commitment early next week — win or lose. Two years ago, Toliver committed to LSU a day after the Tigers lost 21-17 to Alabama in Tiger Stadium, a game he attended on an unofficial visit.
“It kind of shows, no matter what the outcome, the environment was so good it reeled him,” Dixon said.
Welter’s focus: Special teams
D.J. Welter has switched his focus from one of the most important positions on the team — middle linebacker — to special teams.
“I’m down to do whatever’s best for the team,” he said in some of his first public comments since his demotion last month. “That’s playing special teams right now, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Welter, a senior from Crowley, had started 19 consecutive games before beginning LSU’s game at Florida on the bench. Sophomore Kendell Beckwith usurped Welter, and he has started and played the majority of the past three games. All three were LSU wins.
Beckwith has improved more quickly than coaches imagined, coach Les Miles said Wednesday.
Beckwith has 20 tackles in the past two games, including a couple of late-game stops in the 10-7 win over Ole Miss. Miles said he has seen this before — a player in a reserve role taking the starting job and flourishing.
“As soon as he started getting more reps and playing significantly as a starter, it just made a difference,” Miles said. “He just has an instinct and a comfort with play. Has great speed and size. He’ll play a very physical style of game. We would expect he’d play very, very well in this one.”
A lightning rod for fan criticism, Welter is left with playing on special teams. Heading into his last home game at Tiger Stadium, that’s just fine, he said.
“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “It’s a little bit different than defense, but I’m definitely enjoying.”
Collins: We’re the best
Alabama safety Landon Collins didn’t hold back this week.
Collins, the talkative New Orleans native and former Dutchtown star who picked Alabama over LSU, told reporters that he’s bent on remaining undefeated against his home-state squad.
“Personally, this game means a lot,” Collins said, according to al.com. “Just want to show them I picked the right team, definitely, that we’re the dominant force, that we’re the best team in the SEC. Show them that, basically, I picked the better team.”
Collins, the former top-rated safety in the nation, chose Alabama over LSU to the chagrin of his mother during a drama-filled commitment ceremony at the Under Armour All-America Game in 2012.
Against LSU last year, Collins recovered a fumble and had 1.5 tackles for loss.
“It’s emotional for me just playing against them and just knowing that it’s a big game-changer for me,” he said. “Just being able to have that off my shoulders and be able to go back home and say, ‘Yeah, we won.’ ”
Alabama’s Robinson cleared
Alabama starting left tackle Cameron Robinson was cleared to play against LSU, coach Nick Saban said on his radio show Thursday night, al.com reported.
Robinson, a Monroe native and the top-ranked tackle prospect in the nation last year, picked Bama over the Tigers. He has started every game for the Crimson Tide this season but suffered a high ankle sprain in the win over Tennessee two weeks ago.
Most thought just a few days ago that Robinson would miss the game in Baton Rouge.
Robinson has taken flack for spurning his in-state school. After Saban made the announcement on his radio show, Robinson tweeted this message: “I haven’t forgotten anything. Personal!”
Miles: Kiffin is ‘talented’
A lighting rod for opposing fans, Lane Kiffin will walk the Tiger Stadium sideline for the first time as a coach Saturday.
Kiffin, the former Tennessee, Oakland Raiders and Southern Cal coach, is now Alabama’s offensive coordinator. The Tide is second nationally in third-down conversion rate at 55 percent.
There’s a reason behind that: Kiffin is good, Miles said.
“Lane Kiffin is a very tactical guy, does a great job putting his offense in position to make plays,” Miles said. “Yeah, he’s a talented coach and a guy that has ability. We see advantages that have been explored by the play caller, and he’s a very talented guy.”
A need for speed
Team owner Michael Andretti and driver Justin Wilson will appear in the Tiger Stadium parking lot from 3-4 p.m. Saturday to promote next year’s IndyCar Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale.
The location is on North Stadium Drive adjacent to the athletic administrative building.
Also Saturday, rides in a street-legal racecar will be available near the Engineering Building on Nicholson Drive. The cost is $20, with proceeds going to Racing for Kids and the LSU Engineering Society.