NEW ORLEANS — The first part of the recruiting process for Alex Leatherwood is over. Now it’s time to really buckle down and make a decision.
The nation’s No. 9 offensive tackle may be committed to Alabama, but after another visit to LSU this spring, he considers the Tigers’ chances of flipping the elite lineman as good as any of his top choices.
After spending much of Saturday at the LSU scrimmage, then sitting in the meeting rooms with offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and dining with coach Les Miles, the four-star tackle from Pensacola, Fla., saw all he needed to make an informed final decision.
“It was a great day,” Leatherwood told SEC Country during Nike’s “The Opening” regional camp in New Orleans on Sunday.
I saw my opportunity to play early. That’s what I saw … Coach Miles was telling me they don’t really have a genuine left tackle ready to play, so I’d know I’d have the opportunity to play early.”
When it comes to Leatherwood’s decision, there is nothing that carries more weight.
“It’s the biggest factor, of course,” Leatherwood said.
The 6-foot-5, 297-pounder felt it was a natural fit sitting in the meeting room with Grimes and then enjoyed a personal conversation with Miles over dinner in Tigers Stadium.
Leatherwood, who grew up as a Tigers fan three hours to the east in Florida, truly relished the experience.
“I got to see how Coach Grimes related and talked to his players,” Leatherwood said, “so that was a good experience. (Coach Miles and I) ate a lot of stuff, a lot of seafood. It went very well. He’s a good one on on and great to talk to. He’s real funny, and that made it easier to talk to him.”
Leatherwood made it clear he has strong ties to both Grimes and Miles, and those relationships are of paramount importance.
“They’re about as equally as important to me as early playing time,” Leatherwood said.
With the second visit to Baton Rouge, La., in the rearview mirror, Leatherwood is now preparing to enter his own phase of recruiting in which he strongly considers both LSU and Alabama, as well as a handful of other SEC schools.
Florida and fellow in-state power Miami are also in the mix, as well as national powers Southern California and Michigan.
Leatherwood hopes to finalize a decision — to stick with the Crimson Tide or flip — before December, when he signs his letter of intent and becomes an early enrollee.
There is nothing any school can do at this point, Leatherwood said, as he has gathered about as much information to this point as he can.
“Every school has shown me what they have to offer,” Leatherwood said, “and now it’s just time for me to make my decision. I don’t know how long it will be take, but it will be before December.
“LSU is tied with Florida and Miami, but I’m also considering USC, which is somewhere I’d like to go this summer for an official, and Michigan. Now it’s an equal playing field.”