When Fitzgerald West has dreamed about his college football career, it was easy for the Lafayette Christian Academy star defensive lineman to place himself in an LSU uniform playing in Tiger Stadium.
But never could have he envisioned such a scenario with a football in his hand.
The 6-foot-2, 315-pound West, a first team Class 2A All-State defensive line selection, committed Saturday to LSU over Alabama, SMU and Tulane where he’s projected to play center after securing a scholarship last month from the Tigers following a successful showing.
“It stands out that it’s at a position that I’ve never played before,” West told 247Sports after committing. That’s unique. . .they liked my body type and the fact that I could come in and play early.”
The switch to center came in one of the Tigers’ summer camps in June and earned him the scholarship offer.
“He had a great day at defensive line and eventually they (the LSU coaches) wanted to take a look at him on the other side,” said former LSU standout linebacker Trev Faulk, LCA’s Director of Football Operations. “They had him doing some snapping which he’s done in practice before, but we never had to do it in a game.
“Apparently had a good day there. I don’t think he got beat at any point and they had some kids on the defensive line there as well going against him. He did a tremendous job of finishing blocks, moving his feet and showing some athleticism. It was really impressive for him to walk away from there with an offer.”
The commitment total in LSU’s fourth-rated Class of 2022 stands at 14 which includes a rarity of sorts with all three of the Tigers offensive pledges being home grown – a group that also includes Neville’s Will Campbell and Newman’s Bo Bordelon.
LSU is also in the thick of the race for Catholic High’s four-star offensive tackle Emery Jones. He’s scheduled to make his announcement July 30.
National recruiting rankings, based on his body of work at defensive line, have West listed as a three-star prospect and nation’s No 1,029 rated player. He’s the No. 139 defensive tackle and the No. 44 prospect in the state.
“It was big knowing that my home school believed in me,” West told 247Sports. “(Ed Orgeron) said, ‘Ready to be a Tiger?’ I said, ‘Yes sir, I am.’ I like (the LSU’s coaches), they seem pretty cool. “
West, who will enroll at mid-term in January and reunite with LCA teammate Sage Ryan, has compiled an impressive high school resume’ at LCA which has won a combination of the last four straight Division III-IV state championships.
He’s been a fixture in the starting lineup for the Knights since the eighth grade at defensive line, but was added short-yardage and goal line offensive responsibilities at either guard or tackle as a freshman and sophomore.
Because of the team’s overall lack of experience and depth, West approached Faulk about the possibility of becoming a two-way contributor, adding his size and strength to LCA’s offensive line where he started at guard.
“He came to us and said he was willing to do whatever the team needed,” Faulk said. “He put in the extra work and got himself in tremendous shape. We were really young up front last year. He played a whole lot both ways and did a tremendous job.”
West elevated his game from his sophomore year where he was an honorable mention All-State selection to a first team selection in 2020, helping LCA to a 9-1 record and fourth consecutive state title with a 12-7 win over St. Charles.
When the NCAA lifted its ban June 1 on in-person recruiting, allowing players to attend camps once again, West traveled to both LSU and Alabama where he worked out at both defensive and offensive line.
“(LCA’s defensive line coach) Reggie Williams always hinted that he had a high ceiling at offensive line,” Faulk said of West.
West parlayed both visits into coveted scholarship offers with LSU asking him to play center and Alabama projected him at guard.
His other two finalists, SMU and Tulane, both recruiting him to play the defensive line.
Faulk compared West’s transition from defensive lineman to the offensive line to that of his former LSU teammate Stephen Peterman. Peterman signed as a defensive lineman but was switched to the offensive line where he went on to earn All-America honors during the Tigers’ national championship season in 2003, became a third-round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys and spent nine years in the NFL.
“Fitz possesses those similar characteristics with his athleticism and demeanor to flip over and be successful on the offensive line,” Faulk said. “He’s a really good defensive lineman that has an opportunity to be really good at that. But what’s been evident in some of the bigger offers that he’s gotten, there’s a high ceiling as an interior lineman at the center or guard position.”