Moments after the “L-S-U ... L-S-U” chants died down and the throng of media finished asking Kristian Fulton questions, Michelle Fulton bent down and whispered three words in her son’s left ear.
“Greatness begins here,” she said, a reference to a slogan LSU sent Fulton in his offer letter.
Fulton, the five-star cornerback from Rummel, smiled.
Then she went to his right ear, cupping her hands this time, and whispered again.
Fulton, paused, then the tears came.
“I just told him how proud my mother would be of him,” Michelle Fulton said, trying to hold back her own tears this time.
Fulton’s grandmother, Helen Shaw, lives in Baton Rouge. She earned her master’s degree from LSU. But she’s very ill now.
“Back when she was able to talk, she told me to tell Kristian to go to her alma mater,” Mrs. Fulton recalled.
Kristian Fulton had no idea his grandmother had attended LSU until his mother informed him Wednesday.
It was a bit more confirmation for Fulton that he indeed made the right choice.
Family means the world to Fulton, and it had a lot to do with why he pulled the LSU cap instead of the Florida cap or the Arkansas gloves out of the plastic bag before his peers in the Rummel gymnasium.
“Throughout this whole process, my parents have been telling me about family,” Fulton said. “They’ve been coming to my games since I was 5 years old, and that was something I didn’t want to stop happening.”
The 6-foot, 175-pound Fulton said he didn’t make the final decision until Wednesday morning. Florida was a very close second.
“I had been flipping back and forth, and both schools had great things to offer,” Fulton said. “Great education. Great DBs that have been there in the past and great DBs there now. I realized I could learn from DBs either place I went.”
But Florida currently doesn’t have a defensive backs coach, which didn’t help the Gators’ cause.
But perhaps the biggest advantage was that Baton Rouge, unlike Gainesville, is just a little more than an hour away from Fulton’s home on the Westbank.
“It was just being comfortable, and knowing my parents could get to me if something went wrong ... it came down to the last moment, and I had to go with my heart, and that’s where my heart led me to,” Fulton said. “I know (my family) is going to have my back. This not only made me happy, but made them happy.”
The ball-hawking Fulton takes an impressive résumé to LSU. He finished his high school career with 22 interceptions, a Rummel record that will likely stand for years. He’s rated the No. 2 cornerback in the country by 247 and third by Scout.com.
“Fulton does so many things well,” said Glenn Nelson of Scout.com. “When you are grading a top cornerback, he has checks in most, if not all, the boxes. He has shown the ability to play on and off coverage. ... He has a good frame with the ability to play physical, is a solid tackler in one-on-one situations, and his ball skills are a real plus.”
And that’s on the field. His high school coach raves just as much about Fulton off the field.
“I love him to death beccaue he is such a role model to our young players,” Rummel coach Jay Roth said. “He takes care of his business in the classroom, and he takes care of his business on the football field. I’m going to miss him terribly. The excitement he generated today is unlike anybody who’s ever signed from Rummel.”
He is aware of the lofty expectations for cornerbacks at LSU, and knows all too well about the school’s often debated claim to being DBU.
Fulton has seen the reminders — especially from former Tigers standout Tyrann Mathieu — on his visits to LSU.
“Tyrann has a sign in the DB room that tells you that when you’re an LSU defensive back, there is an expectation,” Fulton said. “So I know there’s an expectation. I know I have to work hard and be ready to play.”
And he’ll get to do so close to home, with his family nearby.
“At the end of the day, it’s about family and being close to family,” said Kristian’s dad, Keith Fulton Sr.
Kristian Fulton is already anticipating an all-Fulton family affair in 2018 when LSU plays Southeastern Louisiana, where his older brother Keith plays.
But that’s two years away.
For now, Fulton is just thrilled to have the recruiting process over with.
“It feels great, especially with all the talent that’s coming in with me,” he said. “The guys coming in are used to winning. I’m used to winning. That leads to great things.”