Alfred Blue spoke with quiet delight about the prospect of going to Tennessee on Saturday and pinning a loss on the Volunteers.
“I like the idea of playing on their field,” Blue said. “I like beating people in their own house.”
It was, unintentionally, a sadly ironic thing to say, considering that right now the LSU tailback has no home of his own.
It was Sept. 27, a Tuesday. Erica Clement, Alfred’s mother, had just put his younger brother, Clarence, on his school bus when she got a call that the family home in Boutte was on fire.
The house was home to Erica, Alfred, Clarence, their sisters Alyhea and Clarica, and their grandmother. No one was injured in the fire, but the structure was a total loss and uninsured. Blue said he lost all of his trophies and mementos from his athletic exploits at nearby Hahnville High School.
Blue asked LSU coach Les Miles for permission to head home to be with his family, but quickly returned to be with his LSU family. Putting distractions aside four days after the fire, Blue ran for a game-high 72 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries on Oct. 1 in a 35-7 win over Kentucky.
“Every time I go in (to the game), I try to have a positive attitude,” Blue said Monday, speaking to reporters for the first time about the fire. “I really have to do well for my mom, my brother and sisters, everyone. I’ve got to do well for them.”
In a time of personal tragedy, Blue has not only found a place of refuge among the controlled violence of the football field, he has thrived.
With another 70 yards rushing on 14 carries and another touchdown in Saturday’s 41-11 rout of Florida, Blue has been No. 1-ranked LSU’s leading rusher in its last two games with 142 yards on 30 carries. He’s worked his way into being the prime backup for fellow sophomore Spencer Ware while also racking up 13 tackles on special teams.
For the season, the former Class 5A All-State performer and District 6-5A Offensive MVP is third on the team behind Ware and Michael Ford with 48 carries for 218 yards and four touchdowns.
“He’s challenged because it is best for his team,” LSU coach Les Miles said, referring to Blue’s play on offense and special teams. “He’s talented, tough and able to do all that. It makes him a better tailback.
“He continues to become more efficient and capable. He’s getting better at finishing runs.”
As a player who has been there wherever LSU has needed him, it’s only fitting that in the time of need for Blue’s family that LSU and LSU fans have been there for them.
Shortly after the fire, LSU set up “Relief 4 Blue, The Blue Family Assistance Fund” through the Tiger Athletic Foundation. The number 4 in the title is symbolic of the number Blue wears on the field.
Per NCAA rules, all contributions to the Blue family must go through this fund. Contributions to the fund are not tax deductible and are not eligible for LSU Priority Points.
To donate, visit http://www.lsutaf.org.
The response from LSU fans has been quick and generous. According to university spokesman Herb Vincent, the fund received about $59,000 in donations as of late Tuesday afternoon.
“They (LSU officials) asked me if they could try to set up a fund for my family,” said Blue, who is a second cousin of senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson.
“I’m grateful for it, and I want to thank everyone who has contributed.”