BATON ROUGE, La. — New LSU running backs coach Jabbar Juluke doesn’t mind the comparisons to the man he’s replacing, Frank Wilson.
In fact, he welcomes them.
Like Wilson, Juluke is a native of New Orleans and has experience coaching high school football in the area.
The parallels are there, undoubtedly.
And while it certainly comes as praise, Juluke does hope to eventually escape the comparisons and distinguish himself from his highly-regarded predecessor, who left to become head coach of Texas at San Antonio.
“I tell people all the time — call me Jabbar Wilson. Go ahead,” the first-year running backs coach told SEC Country at his introductory press conference on Wednesday.
“He’s a successful individual. I love him as a brother. I’m excited to be mentioned in the same category. I’m comfortable who I am, too. I’m not here to be Frank. I’m here to be Jabbar and make sure LSU is represented at the high level he set as the standard. I’m going to lean on him a lot, but I’m also going to lean on coach (Les) Miles, coach Cam (Cameron), coach (J.B.) Grimes and everyone here at LSU to make sure that we can be the best.”
Juluke’s ties to New Orleans are undeniable, and overwhelmingly evident by the 450 text messages he said he received last Saturday morning when he earned the job.
Juluke began coaching high school football in the city in 1995 and ended it with a nine-year run at Edna Karr, where in 2012 he guided the school to an undefeated state championship-winning season.
That success led to Juluke being named the running backs coach at Louisiana Tech from 2013-15, which set the stage for him to ultimately land with the Tigers.
“I have good relationships in the state of Louisiana being a former high school coach,” Juluke said. “I have relationships throughout the state, and I’m excited to meet new people and make this university better.”
And those relationships could certainly serve LSU well if they hope to again tap into Louisiana’s elite high school talent, as Miles and his staff did with the 2016 signing class. The Tigers’ incoming crop of recruits features 13 four or five-star prospects from the state.
“There’s a lot of talent in New Orleans, but the state of Louisiana is unbelievable,” he explained. “I don’t care if you’re from New Orleans, Ruston, Alexandria, we want the best football players here at LSU … North Louisiana is an awesome place. There’s some really good, talented players. Louisiana as a whole is a very talented state, the most players in the NFL per capita. I think we have a rich tradition here.”
The talent in The Boot is one of the reasons why Juluke quickly departed from Texas Tech after a month with the team.
When LSU comes knocking, you have to answer.
“It’s LSU,” Juluke admitted. “That was a very easy choice. I’m grateful for the chance to coach at Texas Tech. They welcomed me aboard, but to have the opportunity to coach at LSU is a dream come true for myself and my family. This is the best program in the country and we want to be here.”