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 long-winding twists and turns in Harold Joiner‘s recruitment. LSU was the early leader for the 4-star running back from Alabama, but the Tigers fell out of the mix after a busy June that involved adding three commitments at the position. Yet again, LSU made its way back on top for Joiner. Find every post of SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers recruiting notebook right here.
LSU regains lead for RB Harold Joiner
LSU jumped out in front for Harold Joiner early this spring after the Tigers extended an offer his way during an unofficial visit to Baton Rouge in March.
From there, it got complicated.
LSU padded its lead throughout the spring, but after a wild five-day span in which Chris Curry, Tae Provens and AJ Carter committed, that lead was weakened … drastically.
Joiner, from Mountain Brook High in Birmingham, Ala., countered by trimming his list of top schools to six, purposefully excluding his longtime leader, LSU, and replacing the SEC West power with UCLA, Texas, Michigan State, Auburn, Alabama and Southern California.
LSU’s hold on Carter didn’t last long. Louisiana’s top-ranked running back flipped back to UCLA and remains solid in his pledge to the Bruins. Provens may be projected for a role in the Tigers backfield, but his commitment was taken as an athlete. Curry was LSU’s first running back commitment, but his role has yet to be defined.
Once running backs coach and area recruiter Tommie Robinson was able to clarify that to Joiner, LSU regained its lead for the 4-star tailback. Yet again, the Tigers are in an opportune position to land a commitment this fall.
“They were pushing me pretty hard to try and get me to come down and they were telling me that they were shocked that they weren’t in my top six,” Joiner told SEC Country. “They have fully redeemed themselves honestly. Now, I’d put LSU and Michigan State at the top.”
Not much had changed for Joiner once Robinson was able to explain the plan for LSU’s 2018 recruiting class.
Joiner, the No. 151 overall prospect in the class and the No. 6 running back, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, was reminded he was a top priority for the Tigers. Robinson’s sustained push proved a lot to the 6-foot-3, 218-pound Alabama native, especially through June and July when LSU’s lead began to fade.
“Well, I’ve always felt at home there and I love the energy that the players give to each other. I really just love the hype around LSU,” said Joiner. “I know that it’s a business when recruiting and they would have stopped recruiting me if they really didn’t want me.”
Tommie Robinson’s push behind the scenes
After Joiner unveiled a head-scratching top six that did not include LSU, the 4-star prospect opted to go silent for the next few weeks. That allowed him to take a step back from the media and focus solely on his recruitment.
That time away from the limelight allowed Joiner to reconnect with the Tigers running backs coach and get the answers he needed about a potential future in Baton Rouge. Where did he fit into LSU’s backfield plans and what was the deal with the swarm on commitments they took in June?
Robinson’s responses helped LSU regain steam with the prized target.
“It has been crazy actually,” Joiner said. “I’ve actually put LSU back on the board because they told me about the three backs that committed. Now, they have two backs committed and it turns out that one [Carter] de-committed and another back [Curry] is actually a fullback. The other guy they picked up [Provens] is actually an athlete, so that still leaves a spot for me.”
With a spot in sight, LSU again had to press reset on its pursuit of Joiner. After all, Robinson kept the 4-star running back abreast of his plans for the team’s elite high school prospect camp in June, but Joiner didn’t expect three commitments to follow.
When the two Alabama natives touched base in July, Joiner was reminded he was a priority for LSU in the Class of 2018. His role was more clearly defined than the other running backs that Robinson was recruiting and was what he wanted to hear.
“He told me that he was going to offer one back, but he was nothing compared to me,” said Joiner, laughing. “So, I waited and then he let two more backs commit. I was just like: ‘They don’t need me. Whatever.’ At that point, they didn’t offer anybody as a tailback or a running back, so I knew that they still wanted me.”
Since then, it’s been more of the same.
LSU has continued to pursue Joiner with a head of steam — harder than any other school — selling him on the fact that Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams are entering their final seasons in Baton Rouge and there is an opportunity to see the field right away as a freshman. As a result, the Tigers have worked their way back to the top for the U.S. Army All-American.
“They say that I’m a big back and that they need me,” Joiner said, “and I have a great chance of playing my freshman year. That’s pretty important because I’m trying to make it to the league as fast as possible.”
“LSU’s staff texts me every other day. They’re asking how my day is and things like that. They would never stop texting me … even when I didn’t answer. Their effort to get me is amazing and I don’t think any school has reached out to me as hard as LSU has.”
What’s next for Joiner?
Joiner is nearing a decision.
Alabama’s No. 4-ranked prospect could finalize his plans as early as September and commit soon after. He estimates that two, maybe three games into LSU’s 2017 season is the estimated timeline to decide.
“Just so I can see how they look,” Joiner said.
The blue-chip running back will officially visit LSU on Oct. 14. A weekend later, Joiner will take an official visit to UCLA for Oct. 21.
Other schools will likely have a chance to host Joiner for official visits. Those teams and dates have yet to be finalized.
Miss a previous edition? Find every post of SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers recruiting notebook right here.