For those who felt JaCoby Stevens’ relationship with LSU was over, think again.
The nation’s No. 1 athlete attended LSU’s spring practice on Tuesday as one of the high-profile recruits among a star-studded cast.
The five-star prospect came with an objective in mind and was not coy about how greatly the visit altered his recruitment.
“Oh no I’m not done with LSU at all,” Stevens told SEC Country. “I am very interested in LSU. In fact, I’m split between them and UGA. Honestly, I’m seeing them come down to those two (schools).”
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Stevens hails from Murfreesboro, Tenn., but spent much of his early years growing up in Louisiana. He returned to The Boot during his spring break to further conduct research and explained just how close the race between the hometown Tigers and Bulldogs is.
“Like I told my dad, everything that is big cancels each other out,” Stevens said. “They both have great (defensive backs) coaches, great defensive coordinators, great talent, great head coaches, great business programs. I’m going to actually have to do my homework and pay really close attention on what I can do to contrast them from each other.”
Much of Stevens’ early years in The Boot came in Crowley, La., and he admitted family ties to the state will play a role in his decision.
“I spent most of my years growing up during the summer in Louisiana,” Stevens said. “Every one of my family members is from Louisiana and they’re still there. I’m just comfortable here and feel more at home in Louisiana.”
Stevens pledged to LSU back in September 2015 but re-opened his recruitment shortly after in November.
While numerous signs pointed to the Tigers being eliminated from contention to land the prized athlete, Stevens wanted to clarify that was never the case.
In fact, returning to the LSU campus helped to recapture the feelings that had him commit to the purple and gold in the first place.
“It reminded me why I committed there,” Stevens said. “It was a great experience, talking with (Coach Les Miles) and his wife. It was amazing.”
One of the unique connections between Stevens and Miles is the link between families.
Stevens’ cousin played in a basketball league with Miles’ youngest daughter, which served as a topic of conversation when the two spoke after practice on Tuesday.
Of course, the two had more than just little league hoops to discuss.
“He (Miles) just wanted me back on campus,” said Stevens, who waited until the last minute to reveal that he was visiting LSU this week.
“I think he wanted me to stay, too, because he gave me a wink afterwards. But we just talked about how my major is a great major to go into, and it’s similar to his economic degree that he earned. … I can tell that family means a lot for both of us.”
In addition to conversing with Miles, Stevens took in numerous aspects of the LSU practice session. That included the team scrimmage, some parts of individual drills and a lot of the one-on-one work.
Stevens paid close attention to coach Corey Raymond conducting defensive backs drills as well, as the five-star believes that’s where he would thrive if he in fact chooses LSU.
“I see myself as a versatile defensive back, like at cornerback, free safety and strong safety,” he explained. “I want to be able to thrive at all of those. It seems far-fetched, but the more you know the better you are at all of them, and that makes you more valuable and means there will always be room for you on the field. That’s what has made players such as Jamal Adams and Tyrann Mathieu so good.”
Stevens came to LSU in hopes of absorbing some of the coaches’ style, particularly new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who was at Wisconsin at the time the athlete pledged to the Tigers.
Aranda and the rest of the coaches certainly garnered Stevens’ attention — and for positive reasons — leaving the nationally touted prospect with a lot to consider moving forward.
“LSU was very impressive — the energy and the edge the players had was very attractive,” Stevens said. “Being back was just amazing. I got to see what my daily schedule would look like and it was just awesome. That was amazing just seeing how the plays got called in quick so they can make the easy adjustment early, and that’s great. I enjoyed what I saw.”