Evangel Christian Academy’s four-star defensive lineman Gabriel Reliford’s a perfect example of the bumps in the road that occur during the recruiting process.
For more than five months the 6-foot-2, 255-pound Reliford was committed to Texas A&M before the Aggies fired their head coach Jimbo Fisher and his main recruiter, defensive line coach Elijah Robinson, became the defensive coordinator at Syracuse.
When Reliford had a change of heart following his Dec. 3 decommitment, he made official visits to USC and LSU with the home state Tigers landing his commitment Friday morning at the school’s gymnasium.
“I have a great relationship with the entire staff over at LSU, however my top guys would have to be (running backs coach) Frank Wilson, (LSU director of recruiting ) J.R. Belton, (LSU player relations manager) Sherman Wilson, and (LSU defensive coordinator) Matt House,” Reliford told On3Sports. :They plan to use me the same exact way I played in high school at the edge position that can play either side of the ball and in any gap on the line.”
LSU’s Class of 2024, which received its 27th commitment from Reliford, also gained a boost to No. 12 in the national team rankings from On3.
Reliford’s the 16th pledge for the Tigers from Louisiana and third from a defensive lineman, joining Ruston’s Ahmad Breaux and De’Myrion Johnson of Westgate.
Per On3, Reliford is the nation’s No. 59 overall player, No. 7 defensive lineman and No. 4 player in Louisiana.
“The family feel of LSU is different, especially being from Louisiana,” Reliford told On3’s Hayes Fawcett. “I always felt at home when I visited LSU. Also, LSU has sent countless guys from my area to the NFL, even a few from my school and I feel as though they can do the same with me. And even on a bad year LSU is always a top contender in the SEC (the best conference in college football).”
Evangel (7-5) reached the Division II state select quarterfinals, falling to Archbishop Shaw, 20-13.
Reliford followed up his 129-tackle junior year that included 27 tackles for loss and six sacks with 122 tackles in ’23. He registered 29 tackles for loss, nine sacks, 21 QB hurries and a fumble recovery.
He enjoyed four games with double-digit tackles this season with a career-high 17 in the playoff loss to Shaw.
Reliford served notice as a sophomore he would be a player to contend with, registering 100 tackles, 28 TFLs and 15 sacks. He wound up with 351 tackles, 84 TFLs and 30 sacks during his career.
“Just that I can come in and play big-time ball,” Reliford said of LSU’s message. “Be an impact player and that’s the biggest thing is being able to make an impact. They want me to play Edge. They say that’s my body type, that’s how I play, and they want me to play on the Edge.”