Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman.
Today, we discuss the nation’s top-ranked recruit and his first trip to the Bayou.
Kayvon Thibodeaux is from Lake Charles, La., but his 48-hour stay in Baton Rouge gave him something to remember.
Crawfish, family and Coach O.
Thibodeaux, the No. 1 recruit in the 2019 recruiting class, spent the bulk of Tuesday on LSU’s campus, arriving well before lunchtime and saying farewell a little after 8:30 p.m. that evening.
It was certainly a visit chock full of firsts for the 5-star weakside defensive end, including his chance to try Cajun cuisine and receive Southern hospitality. That was overwhelmingly clear from the moment he walked through the doors at the football ops building.
“It was great. It was fun. I had a great time because, you know, it’s family there,” Thibodeaux told SEC Country after the visit. “Everybody was nice. Everybody was checking in on us and giving us information and taking care of us. It felt good from the moment we walked in — all of the staff was clapping for us and greeting us — and that has never happened before.”
Thibodeaux met with members of the Tigers’ coaching staff throughout the day as they prepared for the annual pro day on Wednesday. The majority of the day was spent alongside head coach Ed Orgeron.
Topics of conversation ranged from defensive fronts and LSU alum, but one thing was made glaringly obvious: Thibodeaux felt like a priority.
“Coach O was real cool,” he said. “We talked a lot. It was cool and we really got to chop it up. He was talking about all of the players that have come through here, telling me how I could become the best player I could be. We talked about the 3-4 and 4-3 defenses, and how LSU plays both. To me, that’ll help make me more versatile and help me in my development.
“Being with the head coach — it was big. It felt good that he wanted to see me. He made me feel like it was his priority to spend time with us.”
Thibodeaux was joined by Dorsey (Calif.) High School teammates Joseph Williams (cornerback) and Jordan Wood (wide receiver). The trio took in the facilities, the campus and watched portions of Tuesday’s spring practice.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound defensive end had only one major takeaway after watching the Tigers on the field this spring, and that was No. 99. Of course, that’s senior tackle Greg Gilmore, whose play had Thibodeaux considering how he might fit in along the future LSU defensive fronts.
“Wow, No. 99 … that’s a big dude,” Thibodeaux laughed. “He can play. (It) makes me think that I got to eat.”
After watching LSU’s practice, Thibodeaux partook in his first-ever crawfish boil with Orgeron and other members of the coaching staff.
First, he learned how to peel the crawfish. Then, if he needed guidance, he looked no further than the man to his side, Coach O, who Thibodeaux referred to as a “pro” as it pertains to navigating through Cajun eatery.
“That was my first time eating crawfish. They taught me how to eat it and that … that was an experience,” Thibodeaux recalled. “I sat down with Coach O and few members of the staff, and Coach O — he was a pro. It was cool. It was nice.”
Thibodeaux has ascended to the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2019 for good reason.That’s been made exceedingly event by his offer sheet, which has seen no shortage of activity through this spring.
Southern California and UCLA were among the first schools to offer the California recruit last summer. National powers such as Michigan and Oklahoma followed suit in the fall before LSU delivered its overture on Feb. 2, 24 hours removed from National Signing Day. Alabama, Notre Dame and Florida State have also joined the fray in recent weeks.
Thibodeaux’s trip to LSU marked only his third college visit this spring. He has only seen in-state schools such as Southern Cal and UCLA, which are located in his current city of Los Angeles.
Maybe it’s because of the plane. Maybe it’s all the crawfish, but LSU stood out because of the different feel he gathered on this visit. However, Thibodeaux maintained that his current ties to Los Angeles or family ties to Louisiana will not be a major factor in his recruitment.
This visit, on the other hand, is.
“They’re high. They’re one of my main schools … period,” Thibodeaux stated. “Them being able to show me things and have me being able to see things — that made it (the visit) better. Now, I have much more of a feel for LSU.”
“I live in L.A., but I’m not tied to L.A. The connection (to Louisiana) is cool, but it’s not really a factor,” he added.
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