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 why a growth spurt may be the difference in Harold Joiner‘s decision to commit to LSU or a rival SEC school.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Doctors informed Harold Joiner that he was done growing a year ago. He was 6-foot-2 then and now measures 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds this spring.
Joiner’s height is out of his control. His college decision is not.
The 4-star running back from Mountain Brook (Ala.) High School is in the process of trimming his list of 24 offers to 5 top schools. LSU, Auburn and Alabama are already locks to make the cut. Texas could join the fray, assuming the Longhorns offer the blue-chip recruit when he visits Austin on May 11.
LSU has grabbed an edge ahead of the in-state powers, though, largely because at his current height and weight, the coaches have made it overtly clear that they want Joiner as their tailback in the 2018 recruiting class. Barring a growth spurt, the U.S. Army All-American named the Tigers as his leading school and expects to commit there whenever a decision is made.
“LSU is just a strong program,” Joiner told SEC Country. “I’m just waiting to see about my height and I may commit this summer — not necessarily to that school, but any school I’m comfortable with — or at the Army Bowl. If I stay 6-foot-3 until like October or November, then it’s going to be LSU.”
Joiner’s big frame and violent running style have led to him being ranked as the No. 16 back in the 2018 class and No. 11 overall prospect from the state of Alabama, per the 247Sports composite rankings.
Auburn was one of the first in-state schools to extend Joiner an offer. The Tigers did so as an athlete, though the coaches have told him they would use him primarily in the backfield. Alabama followed suit earlier this month, and like Auburn, did so as an athlete.
LSU and Auburn are a bit ahead of the Tide in the race for Joiner because they’re emphasizing a future at the position of his choice. Communication has been consistent. All 3 SEC West powers are likely to land in his top 5, which should be released toward the latter part of spring.
A commitment could follow soon after or last until the U.S. Army All-American Game in January at the latest.
“It’s just the 2 schools that have been communicating with me the most,” Joiner said of LSU and Auburn. “I’ll probably [commit] soon after my top 5 or the Army All-American Bowl.”
Assuming Joiner stays put at his current height, the choice will likely be LSU. That, he confirmed.
Tigers running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Tommie Robinson is leading the efforts for Joiner, and LSU head man Ed Orgeron was the coach pleading with the Alabama native to visit in March when he procured his offer. The common message from both coaches is that Joiner is the running back atop their board. He’s No. 1 at a major position of need in the 2018 recruiting class.
Need proof? The team has held back on accepting other commitments until Joiner is ready to give his verbal pledge.
“They’re telling me I’m their top back. Ole Miss is telling me that, too, but [LSU] tells me I’m they’re top back and they’re waiting on me to commit before they let any other back commit. They were going to tell me if another back commits right away. They said other running backs have tried to, but they’ve held back,” Joiner explained. “It means a lot. I’m just thankful just to be in that position.”
At this time a year ago, the doctors were wrong about Joiner, who grew another inch. Now, the blue-chip back is hoping they’re correct. Joiner stated clearly that he hopes not to grow. That would throw the proverbial wrench in his recruitment.
At 6-4 or 6-5, Joiner believes that college coaches would expect him to change positions — likely to wide receiver — which would also open the door for other schools such as Texas A&M, Clemson or Auburn to leapfrog LSU for the lead in his recruitment.
However, running back is the position of choice for the All-American. Avoiding a growth spurt over the next few weeks would make Joiner’s decision that much easier.
“If I end up 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5, I might have to move out to receiver, so I’d have to pick a receiver school,” Joiner admitted. “It could affect [my recruitment] a lot. I mean, it doesn’t affect it because I can catch the ball well, but I want to be a running back. I’m versatile. I can make people miss. I can make plays downfield. I’m an every-down back and my burst is pretty good.”
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