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 newest defensive back commitment, Kelvin Joseph, who returned to the 2018 class with a commitment at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Joseph is making personal history by enrolling at LSU this June.
Kelvin Joseph becomes a pioneer with his commitment
SAN ANTONIO — Latoria Stewart has kept close tabs on her son’s recruitment for three years. It’s safe to say she’s glad he finally put a pin in it.
Kelvin Joseph, Louisiana’s top-ranked defensive back, committed back to LSU on Saturday during the 2018 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. It’s the second time the 4-star Baton Rouge native has verbally committed to LSU, this time just a month away from signing his national letter of intent.
Joseph will still make three official visits: to LSU (on Jan. 19), to Alabama (on Jan. 26) and Auburn (on Feb. 2), but it’s safe to say his re-commitment to the in-state Tigers is final.
“I’m still going to go,” Joseph told SEC Country after recording a game-high 6 tackles in the All-American game, “but I’m sticking.”
Stewart is even more confident he’ll remain close to home.
“I think it’s over with,” Joseph’s mother said of his recruitment. “It’s the second time around, so I think that’s it. I think we made our final decision.”
When Joseph makes his second commitment to the Tigers official on National Signing Day, it’ll be a monumental day for his family. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound defensive back will be the first member of the Joseph family to attend college for this generation.
From a personal standpoint, it’s hard to quantify what this means for Joseph. He could have picked LSU, Alabama, Auburn or Florida State; the magnitude would be the same. The fact that he’ll remain in Baton Rouge and has his biggest fans within an earshot of Tiger Stadium only accentuates the achievement.
“It’s a big accomplishment for our family,” Stewart said with a smile. “I feel great about it. I’m so proud of him and so happy that he is one of the first guys to do this and accomplish something for the family. And being his mother …”
Naturally, Stewart got choked up.
“It means the world,” she added. “It’s just a blessing.”
Joseph is the second nationally renowned prospect from Scotlandville (La.) High School to commit to LSU for the 2018 class. He, along with best friend and 5-star point guard Javonte Smart, are part of the Tigers’ plans in football and basketball, respectively.
Playing football for the in-state power is one accomplishment; attending college is a different one altogether. By re-committing to LSU, Joseph killed two birds with one stone in an effort to shine a light on his and his family’s legacy.
“Not too many kids get this opportunity,” Joseph explained, “and I’ve waited for it my whole life, balling and putting in work to get here. My mom didn’t worry about what school I was going to pick; she was just happy for me and the decision I made.
“I just want to be a hometown hero. That’s what I told myself: I can go play anywhere, but I’d rather play in Louisiana, where I can make a name for myself and play for my home state.”
The decision to re-commit to LSU
LSU, Alabama, Auburn and Florida State hats were displayed on the table ahead of Joseph’s much-anticipated television announcement on Saturday. When it was time to announce his decision, the choice was obvious.
That wasn’t the case 72 hours earlier.
Joseph was torn between LSU, Alabama and Florida State before LSU re-upped defensive coordinator Dave Aranda with a four-year, $10 million contract extension on Wednesday evening. Texas A&M made an expensive push for the Tigers’ highly respected coordinator, who made a personal connection with Joseph in December during a handful of in-home visits.
Once it became clear that Aranda was staying in Baton Rouge along with defensive backs coach Corey Raymond, Joseph finalized his plans to commit during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“LSU and Florida State and Alabama, that was a tight race. I was focusing on them,” Joseph said. “I was waiting to see how everything would go after the season and then, when the defensive coordinator [Aranda] came back, that made my decision. If the defensive coordinator had gone, you never know who could’ve come in. They could’ve gotten a whole new staff, so I had to see what happened.”
Aranda made two appearances inside Joseph’s home during the December Contact Period, appealing to the 4-star defensive back with his football IQ and his emphasis on education.
After Aranda and Raymond went in-home with him a month ago, Joseph had a hunch which direction he’d choose.
“We’re cool,” Joseph said of his relationship with Aranda. “He talked to me as a student of the game. He talked about being a student first, about degrees and things other than football. It’s best to be connected on a personal level, other than just a football level, to be someone who’s going to be there for you if you need family or if something goes wrong and you just need to talk.”
Likewise, Joseph has cultured an even more meaningful relationship with Raymond.
LSU’s defensive backs coach has recruited Joseph for three years. Like Aranda, Raymond has connected with Joseph on a personal level and did the same with both of his parents.
“He’s been recruiting me my whole high-school career,” Joseph said. “We’ve been tight ever since. A lot of people showed me love and support, but Corey Raymond, he hits me up every day, all day, and it’s hard to compare to that. When we talk, he told me he cared more about me as a student and a person than as a player. He told me I’m like a son, so that always stuck in my head.”
That relationship has been paramount.
A top-40 prospect in the 2018 class, Joseph named Alabama and Florida State as the schools that finished behind LSU in the race. The Tide have long been the No. 2 school for the elite Louisiana recruit; Florida State made a concerted effort beginning in October.
Unlike LSU, Alabama has still not named a successor to Jeremy Pruitt. Florida State coach Willie Taggart decided on a defensive coordinator on Sunday, after Joseph’s decision.
Raymond played the most significant role in Joseph’s recruitment. Aranda staying put gave LSU a sense of stability that the competition couldn’t match.
“We felt good about it because Corey, he’s just like family now,” Stewart said. “Every time we’re around him, he’s like one of our family members. He’s welcomed us with open arms and it’s good that he’s staying home because he’ll have a lot of family support in Baton Rouge. He’ll have a big support system and that’s because Corey is like family to us.”
WATCH: LSU lands Louisiana’s top-ranked defensive back Kelvin Joseph over Alabama, Auburn and Florida State
Posted by LSU Tigers – SEC Country on Saturday, January 6, 2018
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