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 4-star Texas defender Marcel Brooks, who made his way to Baton Rouge for LSU’s junior day. Brooks indicated that it was his best visit ever, and we delve into why. We also touch on the nation’s top placekicker, Will Reichard, who is down to three SEC schools, including LSU, and is bracing to make a decision next month.
Marcel Brooks talks LSU visit
Best visit ever.
When Marcel Brooks fired off that tweet following LSU’s junior day event on Saturday, it caught much of the Tigers fan base’s attention.
Brooks, an elite defender ranked just outside the top-100 prospects nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings, is already down to two schools. It will be LSU or Alabama, with a decision scheduled for his birthday on June 25.
Brooks has made unofficial visits to Alabama and LSU in the past month, but the high praise of his time spent in Baton Rouge over the weekend is noteworthy. That’s because the No. 108-ranked prospect in the Class of 2019 spent much of the afternoon alongside coach Ed Orgeron.
“Man, me and Coach O have the tightest relationship I’ve ever had in recruiting,” Brooks told SEC Country. “We talked about playing early mostly. The love they gave me in Baton Rouge — it’s different than any school I’ve ever been to. People walking around, the athletes I was talking to, the coaches … there’s nothing like that. I can’t not be a part of it. It was one of the most amazing visits I’ve ever been on because of the people. It felt like home.”
While playing early was an oft-discussed topic, the two focused largely on life at LSU outside of football. Brooks said his February visit to Alabama was mainly centered around football, so the recent stop in Baton Rouge offered a different experience.
“Coach O didn’t leave my side. It’s different. It’s more than football. I don’t even know how recruits pass it up,” he said. “It was all about us off the field. The culture … the place outside of football. It’s about the culture, the coaches care about culture, and it [LSU] has so much culture. We spoke about food and our families and helping other people in Louisiana. That’s what makes the place great.”
When the conversation turned to football, it was Brooks’ fit in the Tigers defense.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound outside linebacker prospect doesn’t fit under the traditional Bench-linebacker or Field-linebacker positions. Instead, Orgeron deemed Brooks as a three-down player that could compete for playing time immediately and rarely be taken off the field.
“Usually, you have an outside linebacker that blitzes all the time. In the base package, there’s someone rushing [the quarterback] and someone who subs out who covers the flat. In my case, I can rush at a high level as much as cover at a high level,” Brooks explained. “Basically, you get two players when I get in the game. They said they want to build a defense around me. It’s a blessing, but it’s a job. I want to come in and do my role.”
During his visit, Brooks watched LSU’s first spring scrimmage. His eyes were fixated on Devin White, safety Eric Monroe and newly transitioned cornerback Mannie Netherly. All drew his attention in a positive way.
Overall, Brooks thrived off the energy that exuded from the Tigers defense, which is a key reason why he’s down to LSU and Alabama as his final two schools.
“Getting to see them live, practice and scrimmage was the most crazy thing I’ve ever seen,” he recalled. “The way they were hitting, the ways the boys were talking, playing as a team on defense. The defense was scary.”
“I chose LSU and Alabama for a reason,” he added. “I talk to Coach [Nick] Saban, Coach Orgeron, and I couldn’t settle for nothing less.”
— i will be back 6/25 (@MarcelBrooks_5) March 17, 2018
Marcel Brooks has already picked between LSU, Alabama
Brooks doesn’t need to wait until June 25 to make up his mind.
Before visiting Alabama in February and LSU last weekend, the blue-chip defender has already made up his mind on where he wants to attend college. It was as simple as a coin flip.
“I already know where I’m going. In my head, I know where I want to go,” Brooks said. “They’re both amazing programs and you’re going to be happy with both. Alabama was ridiculous. It was a lot of football, a lot of rings. In Baton Rouge, all the love took my attention. Baton Rouge had a lot more character in addition to football.”
That coin flip will lead to a public announcement on Brooks’ 17th birthday.
When asked how close it was between the two SEC West teams, Brooks explained that it was hard to go wrong with either program. The coaches, the history and the defensive reputations are what distinguished them when he named LSU and Alabama as finalists a month ago.
“It’s always hard choosing a school. I wish I could spend two years at one school and two at another,” Brooks laughed. “I hope they’ll be happy with my decision. I just want to play in the SEC, play for a defensive team in the SEC. I picked them [LSU and Alabama] because of their histories.”
Maurice Hampton pitches LSU to Marcel Brooks
One other elite prospect in attendance Saturday was 4-star LSU cornerback commit Maurice Hampton, who shadowed Brooks for much of the afternoon. Hampton, who has been committed to the Tigers in football and baseball for almost two years, felt that Brooks looked the part of the team’s next commitment.
“He was really feeling the vibe for us,” Hampton told SEC Country in regard to Brooks’ time at LSU. “We was really into the practice, chatting up the coaches on the sideline and chatting up the guys. Honestly, if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that he committed to LSU [on Saturday].”
In breaking down the Tigers and the Tide, Brooks indicated that the Alabama coaches made him feel needed. Hampton, playing the role of recruiter for LSU, gave him a different perspective.
“I told him to come here and that playing in Death Valley is unlike anywhere else,” Hampton recalled. “We’ve got a great class coming in for 2019. We’re going to be the team that beats Alabama and brings a natty [national championship] home. With guys like him coming in and playing, he’d be another piece that we really need to put into the puzzle. We haven’t won a championship in a while, but together, we’d finally be on top.
“He said that the Bama coaches told him that he was a necessity, a need. I told him that Bama was lying, that Bama doesn’t need you. LSU is where you need to be and to join what we got going on.”
Brooks is ranked as the nation’s No. 6 outside linebacker, but spent the majority of his time at LSU alongside first-year safeties coach Bill Busch. Hampton, a projected outside cornerback for the Tigers, believes Brooks was receptive to the pitch from both him and Busch.
“I was on Marcel the whole day, the whole time in his ears,” Hampton detailed. “He has a top 2 of us and Alabama. We chatted about him coming in and because he’s a real versatile player, LSU needs guys like that. He was real receptive and, honestly, I think he really liked it. He was real receptive.
“He spent a good amount of time with Coach Busch. He’s got a safety’s body and he could fill his frame out more, but he looks good there [at safety].”
Will Reichard down to 3 as decision nears
The nation’s top-ranked placekicker is bracing for his college decision. He’s already narrowed down the field to three schools.
Alabama, LSU and Georgia are the finalists for 3-star Hoover (Ala.) High School kicker Will Reichard. A decision is about two weeks away.
The Tigers were the first to extend a scholarship offer to Reichard at the elite high school prospect camp last June. He has visited Georgia and Alabama in the last two months, collecting offers during each unofficial stop.
“I feel like those schools can develop me the most and [they’re] schools that I feel like I’ll be able to grow as a person and athlete,” Reichard told SEC Country. “They made me feel special. I knew I wanted to get down to three schools and you can’t really go wrong with any of those schools.”
Reichard has been to Baton Rouge on several occasions, including a prospect camp last summer. He returned for a handful of games last fall and earlier this spring.
During Reichard’s most recent trip, several LSU coaches met with him. They also made a stop at his high school during the contact period in January, which showed him he was a priority in this 2019 class.
“LSU was my first offer,” he began. “I have been able to make good connections with most of the coaches there. They offered me [last] summer. I feel like LSU has made me feel the most special. The last time I went over there for a visit, I was by myself. When I got there, the whole staff was waiting on me to greet me. That was something special. About eight or nine coaches came to my school to speak with my coach about me this past spring.”
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