Catholic High running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire wants to feel needed when LSU’s junior day ends Saturday night.
Madison Prep defensive end Bryan Jones just wants a scholarship offer.
About 40 players are expected at LSU’s junior day event Saturday dubbed “Boys From The Boot,” a day-long, invitation-only affair for Louisiana-only 2017 recruits. These current high school juniors from around the state meet with LSU coaches, tour campus and — this time around — catch a men’s basketball game at the PMAC.
In many ways, “Boys From The Boot” is the unofficial kickoff to the 2017 recruiting calendar, the first big step in building next year’s signing class. Step 2 is next weekend, when the school is set to host a junior day for any 2017 prospects.
A host of scholarship offers are normally delivered at these events, and often prospects make commitments in emotional meetings in coach Les Miles’ office or days later. For example, Saivion Smith, a defensive back from Florida and one of the headliners to the 2016 class, committed three days after his trip to LSU’s junior day last February.
At these junior days, staff members have the opportunity to strengthen bonds with prospects, meet their family members and make their sales pitches.
And prospects? Some are hoping to get scholarship offers. They also learn about LSU’s schemes and see the academic side of the university. On Saturday, a few of them will even catch the LSU men’s basketball game against Texas A&M.
“I’m very excited,” said Jones, a 6-4, 240-pounder who’s ranked as Louisiana’s 13th-best player in 2017. “Hoping to get an offer.”
LSU offered Edwards-Helaire in the summer, so his sights are set on something different.
“I want to come away feeling as if they want me bad enough for me to be able to commit to the school early,” the three-star tailback said. “I want to feel like I’m needed at the school and not just a recruit they’re trying to get to take me from another school.”
The junior camps at LSU are strategically timed.
They fall in a 70-day NCAA quiet period, when coaches can contact prospects on campus only. The quiet period is followed by a 44-day evaluation period beginning April 15 and spanning mostly across high school spring football practice schedules. During evaluation periods, coaches can to visit the prospect’s high school, watch them practice but are not allowed to meet with them.
LSU begins spring practice March 7. The spring game is scheduled for April 16.
This first junior day comes while Miles searches for a replacement for Frank Wilson, the Tigers’ former running backs coach and recruiting coordinator who left the program in January to be the head coach at Texas-San Antonio.
LSU’s coaching staff mostly took off last weekend through Mardi Gras. Miles was expected to ramp up the search for Wilson’s replacement starting late this week.
One guy who’s not worried about that: Edwards-Helaire.
The Tigers are missing the assistant who will coach his position. The 5-foot-7, 190-pounder knows another Frank Wilson isn’t out there.
“I’ve thought about it a little bit,” he said. “As far as LSU’s staff, I know they’re not going to hire a running backs coach close to or even with Frank. I’m not worried about the running backs coach. They’ll find a great coach to replace coach Frank.”
Edwards-Helaire hasn’t scheduled any visits to other junior days, but he did not rule it out. With 2017’s signing day nearly a year away, LSU is his favorite, but he’s interested in Vanderbilt and Iowa State, who both have offered him scholarships.
Realy heavy” talks with Oklahoma coaches on Wednesday turned into a scholarship offer on Thursday, Edwards-Helaire tweeted.
Jones, meanwhile, has offers from Kansas State, NC State, Southern, Jackson State and picked up an offer from Colorado State on Wednesday night, he said.
Jones is waiting for that one, elusive offer, though. And, who knows, he might get it this weekend.
“It would be important. I’ve been liking LSU since I was little,” Jones said. “I just like how they play, the defense.”
Linebacker Deion Jones, offensive linemen Vadal Alexander and Jerald Hawkins and defensive back Jalen Mills received invitations to the NFL combine, which happens Feb. 23-29 in Indianapolis. The NFL announced Thursday the list of accepted invitations to the event. Rashard Robinson, the former LSU defensive back dismissed from the team after the 2014 season, also received an invitation to the combine. ... McDonogh 35 defensive end Sci Martin has not decided on a college, he told 247Sports.com earlier this week. Martin, a TCU commitment, is deciding between the Horned Frogs and LSU. He did not sign with any school last week on national signing day.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.