Surprise, Les: Jamal Adams commits to LSU _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Jamal Adams (33) talks with his teammates between plays including Garrald McDowell (44) during the Under Armour Bowl. The Highlights defeated the Nitros 31-21.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The news even stunned Les Miles.

About two weeks ago, George Adams dialed the LSU coach to tell him this: Adams’ son, Jamal, would be committing to the Tigers over Florida, where Jamal’s godfather, Joker Phillips, is recruiting coordinator.

“Les Miles was so shocked and surprised I was coming,” Jamal Adams said.

Adams made his commitment public on Thursday during the second quarter of the Under Armour All-American Game at Tropicana Field, a 40,000-seat enclosed stadium near St. Petersburg’s downtown.

Adams, a five-star safety from Carrollton High in Texas, was one of seven players who committed on national television on a brightly lit stage just off the field. Five had LSU has a finalists. The Tigers got two: Adams and St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette, the nation’s top-ranked player.

LSU lost highly rated in-state talents in defensive tackle Gerald Willis and receiver Devante “Speedy” Noil, both of Edna Karr, and Texas cornerback Tony Brown. Willis chose Florida and Noil picked Texas A&M. Brown says he’s heading to Bama.

Adams was part of the good news for Tigers fans. He may have been overshadowed by the lost in-state talents and the decision from the big fish — Fournette — but he’s rated as the second-best safety prospect in the nation.

There’s a reason for that, said LSU quarterback signee Brandon Harris, also a part of the Under Armour game.

“No disrespect towards Leonard,” Harris said, “but Jamal Adams is a big get as well. Probably fill a void for Craig Loston, who’s a senior leaving this year.”

Yep, already there’s personnel talk.

Adams is expected to contribute immediately. He said the coaches have told him so.

“They told me I got a great opportunity and I see it myself. They don’t really have too many safeties back there that can really ball and get LSU back to where it was as DBU,” said Adams, referring to Defensive Back University. “We’ve got a great class. We can shut it down.”

Adams joined Ed Paris as a pair of Texas safeties joining the Tigers. Paris, a four-star prospect from Arlington, Texas, is the third-best safety prospect in the country. He signed early with LSU.

Paris and Adams are expected to compete for starting gigs in a sore spot for LSU.

Both safety positions will likely be open. Loston was a senior and no one ever established themselves at the other spot.

Corey Thompson spent a few games there but injured his knee. Rising senior Ronald Martin and, even, true freshman Rickey Jefferson spent time at safety but were demoted. LSU was forced to move Jalen Mills from cornerback to the safety spot in the Outback Bowl against Iowa.

“When I step in at LSU, I’ll be ready to compete for a starting job my freshman year,” Adams said.

Adams hasn’t yet broken the news to Phillips, the former Kentucky head coach now at Florida.

His father, George, has.

“All he said is, ‘Make sure it’s the best thing for him,” George said Phillips said.

Georgia and Phillps are “best” friends, George said.

George Adams called it a “tough” decision for his son, but Jamal said he knew early.

Jamal Adams said he made the decision after visiting LSU on Dec. 6.

“This is who I’m going to ride with,” he said.

LSU and Florida are permanent cross-divisional rivals. They play each year. Next season’s game is schedulee for Oct. 11 in Gainesville.

“That should be a good one,” Adams said.