A state of approval: LSU goes back into Florida to win competitive battle for four-star cornerback Cai Bates

Four-star cornerback Cai Bates of Edgewater High in Orlando, Florida became the 20th commitment in LSU's Class of 2024 on Wednesday. PHOTO COURTESY: Cai Bates

Florida hasn’t been that bountiful of a stop for LSU’s current recruiting class until Wednesday.

The Tigers, who secured an early commitment from four-star quarterback Colin Hurley of Jacksonville, reached the 20-commitment threshold with a pledge from four-star cornerback Cai Bates of Edgewater High in Orlando, Florida.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Bates selected the Tigers, picking a yellow LSU hat, over Alabama, Colorado, Florida State, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Tennessee during a news conference at his school.

“I would say the culture really stands out,” Bates told On3. “Coach (Brian) Kelly came in and changed the trajectory of it with the people around the program and staff. Then the fans and players and area, that won’t ever change. I feel like that’s really big. They also have everything planned out as far as my brand. They want me to come in and compete to play as a true freshman. They really let that be known.”

Bates, whose lead recruiter for LSU was cornerbacks coach Robert Steeples, made the fourth of four official visits to Baton Rouge. He also made official visits to Alabama, Florida State and Tennessee and an unofficial visit to Ohio State.

LSU increased its commitment total with a fourth pledge from a cornerback, a group that includes Ju’Juan Johnson of Lafayette Christian Academy, Wallace Foster of Warren Easton and Ondre Evans of Nashville, Tennessee.

The Tigers’ class is ranked No. 12 by On3.

“It was my favorite out of all the schools I’ve been to,” Bates told On3’s The Bengal Tiger. “I got a warming feeling and just felt genuine unlike any school that I’ve been at. Coach Steeples is a really good person to be around, and I felt like I would excel under his coaching. I spent a good amount of time with Coach Kelly and just got a great feel for the school, even hung out with the team after the spring game.

“Coach Kelly has been recruiting me hard and has built a great relationship with my family,” Bates added. “Making it known that I’m a priority for LSU. (Coach Kelly) spent a bunch of time with me, the whole day on Friday, and I was in the loop before the spring game with the team in meetings.”

Bates is rated the nation’s No. 103 overall player, the ninth best cornerback and 19th best player in Florida according to 247Sports. Rivals.com also ranks him No. 130 overall and No. 13 cornerback.

Edgewater took a 12-0 record into a Class 3A-Metro Region I playoff game with Jones and lost 42-13. He caught 17 passes for 241 yards with a touchdown in 2022, but his defensive statistics were unreported.

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