Strong finish to recruiting season a boost for Miles
If Paul Mainieri suddenly finds himself in need of a closer, he might want to check on whether anyone on the LSU football staff has any eligibility left. Les Miles and his assistants closed recruiting season with the down-the-stretch surge of a Secretariat.
Clearly, Wednesday was over-the-hump day with respect to the Class of 2010.
The Tigers didn’t get Trovon Reed, who signed with Auburn, honoring his commitment from November. Two unsigned players from LSU’s commitment list, Houston Bates and Dexter Blackmon, have more uncertain futures, pending available scholarships and, in Blackmon’s case, gaining academic eligibility.
But the story Wednesday was the wrap-up of a strong finish for Miles and his staff. Kadron Boone chose LSU at the end, leaving Texas Tech to ponder the evaporation of the commitment he made last summer. Jarrett Fobbs withdrew his commitment to Texas A&M and signed with LSU. Tennessee lost J.C. Copeland to the Tigers, and the latest candidate for the all-name team, Ego Ferguson, picked LSU on signing day.
“We kind of had a feeling that was going to happen,” Miles, during a news conference archived on LSUsports.net, said of Ferguson’s signature on a national letter of intent.
“It’s not until he makes the announcement that the ‘Yahoo’ took place.”
Miles let out a big “Wahoo!” the night LSU won the 2007 BCS national championship. Yesterday, it was a more subdued “Yahoo,” but it was heartfelt nonetheless.
Wahoo or Yahoo, it was all about the who.
This class, a consensus top-10 group, should pay some measure of dividends on the field. Off the field, the boost for Miles in the court of public opinion is no doubt a welcome change from the past few months.
Miles lost a bowl game for the first time as LSU’s coach when the Tigers muddled through the slop at the Capital One Bowl in defeat Jan. 1 against Penn State. Wounds from LSU’s pride-pricking November loss at Ole Miss hadn’t healed yet, making it a difficult time for Miles to see his 4-for-4 bowl victory streak come to an end.
The strong finish in recruiting doesn’t make up for the above, but it helps. It will play a role in a more agreeable offseason for Miles, who knows he and his staff need to produce the kind of results he’s acknowledged are appropriate and expected at LSU. The work toward that end starts in the offseason conditioning program, continues in the spring, rolls on through summer “voluntary” workouts and into the two-a-day practices of August camp.
Miles took some punches, here and elsewhere, and he deserves the congratulations when he’s earned them. His staff deserves them too. That includes Don Yanowsky, who is reportedly leaving for Memphis to work for another departure from LSU’s staff, Larry Porter. Yanowsky played a critical role in pulling together this recruiting class, and the emergence of Billy Gonzales and Frank Wilson as difference makers on Miles’ staff paid handsomely as well.
Whether Miles and his boys celebrate with victory cigars or an evening of Texas Hold ‘Em, they’ve earned the Wahoo, the Yahoo or whatever exclamation Miles chooses to put on recruiting season 2010.
Carl Dubois has covered LSU athletics since 1999. Contact him at email@example.com.