Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman. In this edition, we discuss LSU’s push for one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the 2018 recruiting class in Jalen Preston.
Preston earned an offer from LSU during a basketball game in Jan. 2015, and more than two years later, the Tigers are among his six finalists heading into the fourth quarter of his recruitment.
LSU checks all the boxes for Preston
BEAVERTON, Ore. — LSU was the first to extend a college scholarship offer in the direction of Jalen Preston. It came before Preston’s sophomore year … and during a basketball game.
The uber-athletic Preston is now more notorious for his skills on the football field. He’s the No. 8 wide receiver in the 2018 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Between the time that the Tigers offered Preston in January 2015 and now, the team has had three different wide receivers coaches: Tony Ball, Dameyune Craig and Mickey Joseph. The latter has been putting serious time in for the Manvel (Texas) High School standout.
“I talk to him weekly,” Preston told SEC Country at Nike’s The Opening finals in Oregon. “He’ll just check in on me and ask me how I’m doing. [Our relationship] is better than all of the other receivers coaches there. He contacts me a lot more than they did and actually when I was there, he renewed my offer. He wanted me to know that I still had an offer from the new coaching staff there.”
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound wide receiver learned that his offer still stood when he and his father made the short trek from outside Houston to Baton Rouge in the spring.
Preston spent quality time getting to know Joseph and also chatting up first-year coach Ed Orgeron and offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who together showed LSU’s new offensive blueprint to the blue-chip wide receiver. That’s when the Tigers began to regain momentum in Preston’s recruitment, leading the 4-star prospect to name the Tigers to his final six ahead of a National Signing Day commitment.
“When I took my most recent visit to LSU, I had a chance to talk to the coaches,” Preston said. “We talked about the new offense and I actually liked what they were talking about when I was up there on the visit. It was really good. The fact that there wasn’t [a lot of other recruits] there and just me when I was up there, I had a chance to talk to all the coaches and just enjoy my time with them.”
The Tigers hold commitments from two wide receivers in their 2018 class: 4-star Kenan Jones and 3-star Jaray Jenkins. The goal is to secure at least two more and possibly three.
The LSU coaches see Preston as being a true playmaker in Canada’s offense, one who would play all four receiver positions. Basically, any role that he could constantly have the ball in his hands.
“They said that they’d probably move me all around the offense,” Preston explained. “I’d mostly play inside so that I could have the ball in my hands a lot. They believe I’m a good player when I have the ball in my hands.”
Offensive fit was a question that Preston had for the new coaching staff. He also inquired about early playing time. With D.J. Chark and Russell Gage on their way out after the 2017 season, that opportunity is certainly available.
Additionally, Preston’s decision hinges on those two aforementioned factors as well as the coaching staff’s ability to develop him and push the team toward titles.
“Early playing time was their message and early playing time is a big factor,” Preston said. “It’s really important, but I’m also looking for my team to compete for championships, early playing time, great coaches and coaches that can get me to my highest potential.”
Asked whether LSU hit on those four main criteria, Preston responded: “Yes, they do.”
— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) June 30, 2017
— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) June 29, 2017
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