METAIRIE, La. — Kristian Fulton selected LSU over Florida and Arkansas on National Signing Day, but it’s quite surprising why another SEC power wasn’t in contention in February.
Fulton, the nation’s No. 2 cornerback in the Class of 2016, actually grew up as an Alabama football fan and hoped to one day play for the Crimson Tide.
However, the five-star prospect from Archbishop Rummel High School (Metairie, La.) visited Alabama’s campus — and left — without earning an offer, which was quite the head-scratcher for elite corner.
“To be honest, I wanted to go there,” Fulton told SEC Country. “That was my team In school, way back in eighth grade. I took a visit there, and I figured that (I’d get an offer) because I had an offer from every other school in the country … I met with Coach (Nick) Saban and he said he’d watch my film. I had gotten an offer from every other school, so I was disappointed because I felt like I was better than that.”
Fulton may have left Tuscaloosa, Ala., without an offer, but picked one up later on Christmas Eve.
The 6-foot, 165-pounder was walking through the mall when the Alabama coaches called the cornerback and extended an offer.
It was too little, too late for the Tide, as the lengthy delay had left a bad taste in Fulton’s mouth.
“They offered me with like two weeks left in the recruiting process,” Fulton said. “I was in the mall and they called and offered me, but I felt like I should have gotten that offer a little bit earlier.”
Here’s what else Fulton had to say about his recruitment process:
If you could give a junior only one piece of advice about the recruiting process, what would it be? Weigh your options like I did. Go where you feel the most comfortable and not where they show you the most love. They can show love, but that can only be for a certain amount of time. Go where you feel comfortable and you feel like you’re going to play at and where they’re going to support you after football.
What school came in second? What could they have done a little better? Florida, but Arkansas was close, too. I felt comfortable with all three schools. They all showed me they cared and they cared about my family. But my mom and dad got to go on the visit with me to Florida, and they felt comfortable with the people around the program. They liked Florida and they were cool with me going to both. They didn’t get to go up there to Arkansas, so they didn’t feel comfortable with me going up there and them not knowing the surroundings. They both recruited me hard, but I went where I felt comfortable. At the end of the day, my parents gave me their opinion of what they thought was best for me. I thought about it and sat down, but there was not much they (Florida or Arkansas) could do.
What was the most creative thing a school or coach did to get your attention? On a couple of visits, they had cookie cakes. They had Photoshops of me in the jerseys, like Vernon Hargreaves III in the No. 1 jersey saying “continue the legacy.” Stuff like that was pretty cool.
What was the biggest rumor about you that wasn’t true? That I was a silent commit to LSU the whole time. I think that’s what stopped most schools from coming after me. Coaches would come to visit, but say they heard I was silently committed to LSU. I liked Florida State and went and visited, but they never offered. I don’t know why, but I feel like that’s what they heard. I wish I heard from Ohio State and some other schools like that.
What’s the biggest secret you kept during the recruiting process? I would tell my brother I was going to Florida, then a few days later, tell him I’m going to LSU. I kept changing it up to where I wanted to go out of those two schools.
What is the funniest thing any coach said to you during the entire recruiting process? There were a lot of funny coaches that recruited, like Michael Smith from Arkansas. He’s real cool.
What was your biggest regret during the recruiting process? Not taking all of my official visits. I’d give the two others schools an opportunity to take my visits, too. Then I could weigh out all of my options, because you never know what’s going to happen on a visit. If I had a regret, it’s not taking my other visits. I’d go to Ohio State, and I saw Florida State, but I mean, I wish they had offered me at least. If not, I could have taken an official visit.
What was the funniest story that happened on one of your recruiting trips? At Arkansas, me, Briston Guidry and Henre’ Toliver, and Henre’ had a friend that was a girl. We were riding these motor scooters around campus. I didn’t know how to ride it, so I was holding the acceleration button and the break, and swerving, and I fell all the way down a hill into a ditch.
Which coach was it the hardest to say no, that you weren’t coming there? Coach Skip (Tim Skipper) from Florida. Once we came off that visit right before signing day, they showed me as much love as any school showed. Coach Jim McElwain, it was hard to tell I wasn’t coming. I knew how much they wanted me and how much they needed me over there. At the end of the day, I felt better at LSU. It was hard to call them up because he checked up on me every day.
Which college would you have considered more seriously if they had offered you earlier in the process? Florida State, definitely, because they would have been one of my top choices. Out of the schools that did offer me, South Carolina, because they offered me late because of the new coaching staff. Really, the defensive backs coach (Travaris Robinson) … he was a great coach and recruited all of the Florida defensive backs. He knew what he was talking about, but they offered so late in the process.
How much negative recruiting was out there? A lot of coaches were trying to talk down LSU. I was like, “Come on, man.” They said not to be an in-state guy, go there to sit on the bench like everyone else. I just wanted them to recruit for their school and not to persuade not to go somewhere else. They were so worried about LSU, and I was trying to see what everyone else had to offer.
Which head coach of a team that you did not sign with was the nicest? All were real nice, honestly, but Coach (Les) Miles and Coach (Bret) Bielema. They’re real nice guys and definitely care about their players and the families of their players. Coach Bielema brought the whole coaching staff down to talk to my parents because they couldn’t get to come up for my official visit, which showed how much they cared.
Which coach was not the nicest? I didn’t meet any coaches that weren’t nice, but I was nervous talking to Coach Saban. You know, it’s Coach Saban, and he’s a very serious guy. He doesn’t smile much, so I was nervous talking with him.
If you were in charge of the NCAA, what’s the one rule you would change with recruiting?
It would be to pay for your parents to come on the official visits. Obviously, you want your parents to see what schools you’re looking at, but not all parents can afford to go on the visits. So I think schools should be allowed to pay for the parents to go on the official visits to see what their kids are looking at.
Other LSU Recruiting Rewinds
- Les Miles dabbing is a memory LSU signee Cameron Lewis won’t forget
- LSU signee Donavaughn Campbell’s fondest memory includes running from a snake
- LSU QB signee Lindsey Scott Jr. received insight on Les Miles’ hatred toward Alabama
- LSU signee Caleb Roddy says other SEC teams had a chance if they moved to Baton Rouge
- LSU signee Lloyd Cushenberry says Tigers made a push the Sunday before signing day
- LSU signee Jakori Savage almost considered another SEC West team
- LSU signee Andre Anthony had a completely different view of Les Miles before meeting him
- You won’t believe what Texas fans did to Rahssan Thornton after he committed to LSU
- LSU WR signee says he always knew he was going to this SEC West school
- LSU DL signee wasn’t recruited hard by this SEC power, so now he wants them to pay
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tigers Stadium.