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 how LSU is attempting to flip star running back James Cook, who is committed to Florida State.
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — James Cook was one of the blue-chip recruits in attendance at the Pylon 7-on-7 Invitational this past weekend. The 5-star running back showed up in garnet and gold Florida State cleats and rocked a Florida backpack.
As diverse as his fashion choices were, they accurately reflected the state of his recruitment.
Cook is the No. 25 prospect in the 2018 recruiting class and the nation’s No. 3 tailback, per the 247Sports composite rankings. In his own words, he labeled his recruitment as “committed but open.”
The 6-foot, 181-pound prospect from Miami has been verbally committed to Florida State for 13 months, but a final decision won’t be made until Jan. 6, 2018, at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Cook recently released a top 8 comprised of Florida State, LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Southern Cal and Oregon. The Tigers are among the contenders to flip Cook over the next 9 months and are selling the All-American running back on both opportunity and tradition.
“LSU recently made my top schools because it’s RBU,” Cook told SEC Country. “They’ve had so many great running backs come through there. They’ve got Derrius Guice and guys like that. They’re just a great school that relies on their running backs. They trust and stick with the running game.”
Cook’s commitment to the Seminoles has not prevented him from taking an interest in other schools. The 5-star talent hopes to make the trip to Baton Rouge sometime this spring or summer.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron has been pushing Cook to visit. He even called Cook on Saturday morning prior to the Pylon 7-on-7 event to engage the Army All-American about LSU’s need for a blue-chip tailback in its 2018 recruiting class.
“Coach O hit me up today and we were talking. He was telling me that he wants me there and that we [LSU] need a running back to come in and change the program, another running back to change the program,” Cook said. “That made me open up to them more, and it helps that they want me and that they need a running back.”
Orgeron has called Cook consistently since he took over as Tigers coach. His newest assistant got involved as soon as he joined the staff, too.
Tommie Robinson, LSU’s running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, courted Cook while he was an assistant coach at Southern Cal. That’s why the Trojans made Cook’s top 8 earlier this spring and why the Tigers are suddenly in a very advantageous spot as they make a push to convince “The Opening” finalist that a move out-of-state is the right idea.
“We have had a good relationship since he was at Southern Cal,” Cook said of Robinson. “He hits me up and tells me that we [LSU] need a running back and someone that can change the program and stuff like that.”
Of course, the Tigers took 1 tailback in 2017 — Clyde Edwards-Helaire — and are aiming to reel in at least 2 backs in this cycle. Priority targets include Cook, fellow Floridian Chris Curry and 4-star Harold Joiner out of Alabama. All have visited LSU’s campus in recent months with the exception of Cook.
Luring Cook on campus is LSU’s first and primary objective to loosen Florida State’s hold on the prized running back. Cook declined to put a number on his level of commitment to the ‘Noles, but stated that it’s “still up in the air,” a promising first sign that a contender besides Florida State could be the 5-star running back’s choice when he makes his decision.
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