By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
Brian Kelly isn’t interested in headline-grabbing statements or declarations, but rather substance. So, when LSU’s second-year head football coach refuses to say the Tigers are going to “lock down” the state when it comes to recruiting, don’t view it as a passive or timid approach.
“You’re not going to lock it down, but if there are players that fit your profile, you better recruit the state of Louisiana because there are great players in this state,” Kelly said prior to an LSU function at Superior’s Steakhouse on Wednesday.
Kelly is proud of how he’s massaged the state’s fertile recruiting grounds, including the Shreveport area, since his tenure began after the 2021 season.
“You have to be visible in the recruiting areas,” Kelly said. “You can’t just talk about Shreveport, you have to go to Shreveport. You can’t talk about being in Monroe or Ruston or Lafayette and not be there. You have to recruit through visibility. That’s been my charge to the staff and I think we’ve met that early on.”
At least a couple of local high school coaches agree.
“We’ve seen LSU four times in the last calendar year,” Parkway head coach Coy Brotherton said. “(Former LSU head coach, Ed) Orgeron did a good job, but he was a Louisiana guy. Although Kelly is not from Louisiana he has made it a point of emphasis, and he’s done a good job.”
Calvary head coach Rodney Guin has also seen, first-hand, the Tigers’ mission to embrace the area. His sophomore sensation, running back James Simon, has already been offered by Kelly.
“All we ask is they give the guys up here a shot,” said Guin, who voiced his support of Kelly. “Sometimes in the past they haven’t given guys a shot they should have at a bunch of schools around here.”
The Tigers authored a remarkable turnaround in Kelly’s first year at the helm. LSU, 11-12 combined in 2020 and 2021, compiled a 10-4 overall record, capturing an SEC West championship before ripping Purdue, 63-7, in the Citrus Bowl.
The expectations are back for LSU football and Journal junior reporter Parker Suckle proposed an interesting bit of numerology for Kelly on Wednesday: The 2003 and 2007 championships came four years apart. The 2023 season will be four years removed from the Tigers’ last title. Kim Mulkey brought a national championship to Baton Rouge in her second season as the women’s basketball head coach. Can Kelly produce the same magic in his sophomore season?
“I’m not much of a believer in the numbers and what those mean because I had to deal with a lot of that at Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “'(Knute) Rockne did this and then Holtz did this’ and I get all that, but developing a national championship football program requires the depth on your roster, it requires the consistency.
“In Year 2 we’ve made really good progress. We went from last to first in the SEC West. Now we’ve got to be able to change the way we look at ourselves because we’re no longer going to be hunting, we’re going to be hunted. We’ll see how our guys handle that mindset. If we do a good job, then maybe we’re talking about a national championship again.”
Contact Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @roylangiii