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 LSU’s push for a Houston-area safety, Leon O’Neal, who committed to Texas A&M over LSU earlier this summer.
Leon O’Neal consistently in touch with LSU staff
BEAVERTON, Ore. — After one unofficial visit to LSU and a strong surge from the coaching staff this spring, the Tigers were among the finalists for 4-star safety Leon O’Neal Jr. — before he ultimately committed to Texas A&M.
The Aggies edged out LSU in a decision that was closer than most realize.
O’Neal picked A&M largely because it offered him the opportunity to play college football close to his home near Houston, a choice he has remained confident about weeks after pulling the trigger.
“It was about the distance at that point,” O’Neal told SEC Country about his decision to commit to Texas A&M. “LSU is a great school and they really wanted me, but I picked A&M kind of over weird, little petty things. You know, talking about schools, getting my number … I just knew that I could be great anywhere. I felt that there was a SEC school in my backyard and that was great for me. I spent every night pacing in my room until I was finally brave enough to make my move. It’s looking pretty good right now.”
LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond and East Texas area recruiter Dennis Johnson made a strong push to add O’Neal to the 2018 recruiting class this spring, luring the Cy-Springs High School standout to campus in May.
Despite O’Neal’s verbal commitment to an SEC West rival, the Tigers staff has continued to stay in touch with him. It isn’t daily, but it is consistent, as LSU has made it clear it remains interested in O’Neal.
“They’re great guys and they hit me up from time to time,” O’Neal said. “They tell me that they’re here for me, and if anything changes they’ll be there for me. It’s really a great relationship. Even though I’m at Texas A&M, we’re still going to be OK.”
A return visit could be in the works
O’Neal has not ruled out a return visit to Baton Rouge. It could be an unofficial stop or an official visit for the 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back. O’Neal remains undecided at this point.
LSU’s proximity to his hometown makes it a likely scenario. His first trip to campus left a lasting impression. O’Neal remains intrigued about what else LSU can offer and he believes taking visits to places other than College Station, Texas, is an important factor in his recruiting process.
“I feel like everybody should [take all their visits],” he said. “I got to see other schools and I want to see different places and enjoy it. It’s not to see what I’m missing out on, but to see different things.
“I’ve been there [to LSU] once and I want to go back down there and just enjoy it again. I wasn’t there for a live game, so I want to see how that is. I’m an Aggie right now, but I want to live it up and make something special.”
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