Offensive Star: La’el Collins
O-Line monster leads lofty class into Tiger Stadium
By CASEY GISCLAIR
Tiger Rag Recruiting Contributor
Redemptorist High School offensive tackle La’el Collins will sit down at a table in the school’s cafeteria sometime Wednesday afternoon.
He won’t be there for lunch - although the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder has obviously had a meal or two in his time with the school.
He instead will be surrounded by family, friends, classmates and teammates for something that has been four years in the making.
He will sign a collegiate football scholarship.
And barring an unforeseen change in plans, that signed National Letter of Intent will then be faxed right down the road into the waiting hands of LSU coach Les Miles, who is expected to call Collins one of his own for the next four seasons.
Collins is the headline offensive commitment in the Tigers’ 2011 recruiting class thanks to his overwhelming power and cat-like athleticism that makes him a five-star prospect and arguably the nation’s best incoming offensive lineman.
And if his recent words carry any clout, the best is yet to come for the Tigers’ possible future starting left tackle.
“I always feel like I can do better, though,” Collins said. “I’ve been working harder to try to become a 100 times better because now that I committed, I don’t want people thinking I’m some kind of garbage kid. I want to become better and never stop becoming better.”
Constantly progressing is something Collins excelled at throughout his career at Redemptorist.
The prospect was a driving force on the Wolves offensive line, anchoring an offense that averaged 36 points per game in 2010.
Collins was also one of the lead battering rams that opened holes in the ground game for teammate and fellow LSU commitment Jeremy Hill, who rushed for 2,260 yards and 36 touchdowns in his senior year.
“The season has been going good and I think I’ve been doing okay,” Collins told Tiger Rag in late September.
Perhaps his strong play was enhanced by a clear mind, as Collins was one the founding fathers of the Tigers’ Class of 2011, committing verbally on Sept. 28, 2009.
“It is like no other feeling I have experienced in my life,” Collins told Tiger Rag upon his commitment. “It feels great! When I told Coach Miles, he was very excited. I think he was surprised how everything went down and how soon. He talked about me coming there and how he was happy and since I am committed to him, he will be committed to me.”
Since that time, other schools have leapt in to try and woo Collins away from his commitment to Miles and LSU.
The prospect fielded additional scholarship offers from Auburn, California, Florida, Florida State, Houston, Oklahoma State, Tennessee and USC.
He visited USC’s campus in late October and then toured the campus of the defending national champions in November during their victory against Georgia, which had some wondering how firm Collins’ commitment actually was after he commented that he “really liked” the visit and that he “still had to think about his decision.”
But since that trip to the Plains, Collins has backed away from the situation and has reaffirmed his commitment to his hometown school.
“Tell them I am 100 percent [LSU] Tiger and they do not have to worry about me decommitting or anything like that,” Collins said. “Tell them I am going to focus on becoming better for the Class of 2011.”
Patterson halfback and fellow LSU commitment Kenny Hilliard also shared his thoughts, saying he couldn’t speak for Collins, but added he expected to have his longtime friend with him in Baton Rouge.
“Me and La’el and Jeremy, we all just go way back,” Hilliard said during the Class 3A state playoffs when Patterson was getting set to battle Redemptorist. “We’ve had many battles with one another in high school and we’ve had fun with one another texting back and forth and everything, but we all expect to be in the same place together in the next level and we know just how fun that’s going to be.”
With Collins likely on board, he should be in line to receive early playing time if he progresses the way most expect.
The Tigers are losing starting left tackle Joseph Barksdale to graduation and outside of the team’s other starter, sophomore Alex Hurst, and redshirt sophomore Chris Faulk, there aren’t many experienced tackles on LSU’s roster.
But regardless of how it shapes out, just being a Tiger is the first step in the ladder and Collins expects 100 percent to be just that.
Because after all, he believes he’s been one his whole life.
He’s been saying it since Sept. 2009.
“LSU has always been my No. 1 team and I have a great relationship with the coaches,” Collins said. “I thought about maybe waiting, but I knew in the end I was going to still be a LSU Tiger so I decided to do it now.”
The LSU fan base is glad he went ahead and pulled the trigger.
The next great Tiger is born.