Lowell Narcisse became the seventh commitment and second quarterback in LSU’s 2017 recruiting class Monday.
The nation’s No. 5 dual-threat quarterback made the decision to stay in his home state just five months after decommitting from Auburn.
Narcisse was unavailable for interviews after making the pledge, but St. James (La.) High School coach Robert Valdez was.
Valdez spoke to SEC Country about Narcisse’s rehab, his competitive nature, his future at LSU and whether or not he was surprised when his quarterback decided to commit.
Q: It felt like Narcisse decided to commit out of nowhere. Were you surprised by it, too, or did you think he was close to making a decision?
RV: Well, I kind of felt like it was a bit out of nowhere. But I do know that before I came here, I saw him at the “Boys From The Boot” event at LSU. I know that they had him — from what I gathered — as their top recruit coming into this season. I know there was a lot of interest from LSU’s side. We had an agreement not to talk about, and I didn’t want to influence him. I just wanted him to take his time and do what he needed to do to make the best decision for him and his family.
Q: Speaking of family, obviously he just went through a lot with the passing of his father. Narcisse said that personal adversity led him to slow down his recruitment. How do you think that factored into the decision-making process here?
RV: Well, what happened — like anything else — it’s a grieving process, and it’s very different for every individual, especially when you’re young and so many things are coming at you, and there are so many obstacles already. Going into his junior year, tearing up his knee, so then after missing most of the season, working so hard to get back to the state championship and getting hurt again is another emotional roller coaster. Then, losing your father is the ultimate grieving process. When you talk to him, he just didn’t know how to handle this latest setback. He felt that at Nike’s (The Opening) camp, he threw the ball well and went through his mechanics and his progressions well. Those kids, a lot of the time, have so much pressure on them. What I want to do with him is make him understand he doesn’t have to carry the pressure of the entire community and region. I want him to be a kid. I want him to be a 17-year-old because he’s not going to get that back. Basically, that’s why I’m so happy and supportive of him for taking a step back, eliminating himself a bit and focusing on what’s important.
Q: You mentioned his torn ACL and then the bone bruise he suffered in the Superdome. What have you seen from him during the rehab process and how does he look early on this spring?
RV: He just finished track. His knee is fine. He was the third leg in the 4×100 relay, competing for regionals, but didn’t qualify for state. Really, the first time I had him full-time was yesterday (Monday). We were just wrapping up our conditioning. He’s fine. He’s like a milk truck running around out here. I’m kidding, but I call him that. I think he’s fine. And the realest conversation that we had was when I told him in the spring game, he’s going to be dead (not used 100 percent). He’s going to play, but he’s going to wear his knee brace. He’s totally rehabbed, totally healthy and totally comfortable with his legs. When you get to him, he’s just a regular, big, silly, average 17-year-old that possesses superhuman talent. He’s a really good kid and all that, but we’re just taking it slow because we have that luxury.
Q: You have a history of grooming college-level quarterbacks, but Narcisse is probably the best talent you’ve had. What kind of quarterback is LSU getting in him, both on the field and as a member of the team?
RV: One of the biggest things he possesses is how everyone gravitates toward him. In terms of what LSU is getting is basically, so to speak, like a magnet. Guys around the state, the top-10 guys who may not know what they want to do … well now, this is a big-time commitment. In terms of team, they’re going to get really a competitor that loves to compete. He loves to go out there and just line up anywhere, anyplace at any time and play. Off the field, you don’t have to worry about character issues or things of that nature because his parents did a real good job of bringing him up. He’s 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, and he’s going to grow a little bit more. He’s got a tremendous arm. He’s not just an athlete playing quarterback and scrambling, although he possesses that ability to get out of bad situations. But at the end of the day, he can play and be a pocket passer. They’re getting a real good student-athlete that you can build your program around because I really believe and have been blessed through the years to have had great quarterbacks that have gone on to lead their programs. In the pros, in college and in high school now, quarterbacks have to be the leader of the team.
Q: There’s so much talk about a new type of LSU offense, one that will put a little more emphasis on the passing game and maybe encompass more spread principles. How does Narcisse fit with how LSU’s offense is evolving into?
RV: The beautiful part is that Lowell — to a certain degree — his body of work is still untapped. I believe that he really has a lot to offer. Some kids, they’re designed to be a system quarterback, a pro-style quarterback or a spread quarterback or dual-threat quarterback. Lowell is more of a blank slate with tremendous ability, size and strength. You get him in there and he’s big enough to go under center and handle the pro-style offense that LSU does, and then he’s athletic enough and has a quick enough release to play in a spread system. When it comes down to it, he has a quick enough release, height and size, and the vision to see everything in front of him. I see him adapting fairly well and early on the scene.
Q: The interesting part of this is that LSU got a commitment from quarterback Myles Brennan a few days earlier. Is that something you think Narcisse considered, and how do you think he’ll respond to it?
RV: I just think he loves the fact that he’ll get a chance to compete. Quarterbacks are funny, man. I go back to Joe Namath. They just see things different than anyone else does. Lowell’s mentality is that he’s where he wants to be. He did what’s best for him and his family. He’s going to be respectful of the people on the roster, but he wants his shot to go out and compete and have the ability to lead this program. If he goes in there with that attitude, he’ll do well with his teammates, but he also wants to be that guy, which is what you want. I think that the situation that LSU is in, competition will breed excellence. It’s going to make him work harder and do better and make him be totally focused and bought in, which he is here, but we don’t have anyone pressing him. Now the goal for us is to have a great season and compete for a state championship. When he gets to LSU, his goal is to be the guy and the guy as soon as he walks through the door.
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tigers Stadium.