LSU lands top prospect, recruiter -- all in one
Top prospect Russell Shepard comitted to LSU in March
Since then, he's been recruiting other top prospects for the Tigers
Shepard is trying to lure safety Craig Loston, receiver Andre Debose
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While LSU dismantled Georgia Tech in Wednesday's Chick-fil-A Bowl, the Tigers' new recruiting coordinator worked his magic in the players lounge at a Walt Disney World hotel. The coordinator didn't violate any NCAA rules because he isn't actually a member of LSU's staff.
Houston Cypress Ridge quarterback Russell Shepard (Takkle.com's No. 1 overall prospect), along with several dozen fellow All-Star seniors for Sunday's Under Armour All-America Game, made the rounds Wednesday night, making sure all the players considering LSU took special note of the way the Tigers finished their season. Shepard, who committed to LSU in March, probably has spent more time than LSU's coaches trying to make the Tigers' 2009 class the nation's best. Hence the honorary title.
"I liked that. It sounded like a good name," Shepard said Thursday. "I looked at a lot of previous teams that won national championships, and I realized the first step is to have the No. 1 or No. 2 recruiting class in the country."
And if the bowl result wasn't enough to salve the wounds from a disappointing season, the Tigers could find even more hope in the next few days. Friday, during the Burger King All-America Skills Challenge (taped from 2:30-4 p.m. ET but broadcast on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.), Aldine (Texas) Eisenhower safety Craig Loston -- Shepard's first cousin and Takkle.com's No. 13 overall prospect -- will commit either to LSU, Oregon or Texas A&M. During Sunday's game (8 p.m. on ESPN), Sanford (Fla.) Seminole receiver Andre Debose (the No. 26 overall prospect) will choose from a list that includes Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, USC and -- you guessed it -- LSU.
Shepard said that in his nine-month stint as a recruiter, he has learned that different players require different pitches. Shepard said Debose, a burner who has drawn comparisons to Florida's Percy Harvin, would be turned off by the hard sell. For his part, Debose seems to have responded well to Shepard's softer pitch.
"When we have our conversations, it's not even about football," Debose said. "We just talk about life. I'd love to be on his team, and he'd love for me to be on his team, but we really don't talk about it."
Other players get the full presentation. Loston, because he is family, didn't get a choice. "Craig gets an earful all the time," Shepard said with a smile.
Shepard and Loston have played on rival teams since elementary school, and they've often discussed playing for the same team. That dream may become a reality Friday.
"It would be fun," Loston said. "He's No. 1 [in the nation] at his position. I'm No. 1 at my position. For us to play against each other for so long, it would be a real good experience to play on the same team finally. People would quit comparing us and saying what we do different. It would be real good."