Michael Divinity, one of the nation’s top uncommitted prospects, can recall a time when he played a fall scrimmage against Leonard Fournette.
It was 2013, and Divinity, now a 4-star linebacker, had just transferred from Louisiana’s John Curtis Christian High School in New Orleans to John Ehret — a school 20-some miles east and across the Mississippi River.
The then-budding sophomore had never heard of the eventual No. 1 overall player in the country. Across the river, schools like John Curtis never faced St. Augustine High School, where Fournette rushed for over 7,000 yards and 90 touchdowns, per 247Sports.com.
“When I found out we had to play St. Augustine and Leonard Fournette … When I saw him, he was massive,” Divinity told SECCountry.com. “No matter what team you play, you’re going to always play against that athlete. And Leonard was that athlete.”
Added Divinity: “Leonard is going to do what Leonard do. He made me a better player when I played against him.”
Flash forward two years, and Divinity is now one of Louisiana’s top recruits. He’s rated as the No. 67 player in the country and No. 6 in the state. And while he’s yielded 29 offers, Divinity appears set on five programs — Texas A&M, Florida State, Oregon, Ole Miss and, of course, LSU.
Divinity acknowledges that he’s considered the possibility of playing alongside Fournette. In fact, the Heisman Trophy frontrunner has been a mentor to him on recent visits.
“Leonard Fournette is a great guy,” Divinity said. “He told me, ‘Work hard’. That’s the one thing that he repeated. He said, ‘When you come to college, it’s straight business. You have it hit it.’ He was like, ‘You want to be a big-time guy, you have to work hard to be a big-time guy.’ He works hard in the offseason and look where it’s gotten him now. When somebody tells you that and they show it, you know you can do it.”
Aside from playing on different sides of the ball — you know, “the whole offense-defense thing,” he says — Divinity says he and Fournette share the same drive.
“People from New Orleans are always great to talk to,” Divinity said. “You can sit down and have a great conversation with them. In New Orleans, it’s hard to do certain things, especially with how families are financially. But that’s made us hungrier. Look where it’s gotten Leonard. Look what it’s getting me.”
Above all, though, Divinity says his conversations with players across the country, whether it be Fournette or FSU’s Derwin James, who is from Auburndale, Fla., have been most helpful in determining where he’ll play out his college career.
And though it would appear that LSU is the early favorite, according to 247Sports.com’s Crystal Ball predictions, Divinity maintains that he’s wide open.
The 6-foot-2, 218-pound linebacker is coming off of three consecutive official visits. He traveled to FSU on Sept. 5, Texas A&M on Sept. 11 and LSU on Sept. 19. Divinity is headed off to Oregon this weekend for the Ducks home game against No. 18 Utah. He confirmed to SECCountry.com that he’s in the process of scheduling an official visit to Ole Miss for his fifth and final trip.
What can Divinity glean from his first few visits? For starters, it would appear that LSU is an overall sound fit. The campus is 45 minutes away from his home in Marrero, La., and the Tigers run a 3-4 defense. His relationship with the coaching staff has also made for a solid foundation.
It also helps that his Louisiana ties extend beyond Leonard Fournette.
“It’s LSU,” Divinity said. “It’s great. (Receiver) Malachi Dupre, Leonard, (receiver) Tyron Johnson, some of them I’ve played against and some I’ve seen at camps.”
But the same can be said at Texas A&M, where New Orleans natives Speedy Noil and Kendall Bussey have carved out important roles for the Aggies. Divinity says he’s developed strong relationships with both coach Kevin Sumlin and secondary coach Terry Joseph, too.
The only cause for concern could be the defense Texas A&M employs, but it doesn’t appear to be too much of a factor in his decision-making process.
“It isn’t going to be a big issue,” Divinity said. “I look at it like, ‘Do I want to play in a 4-3 or nickel or do I want to play in a 3-4?’. I’m going to have to sit down and think about it. I know I can play good in any defense no matter what.”
His other three schools — FSU, Oregon and Ole Miss — appear to be as much in contention as LSU and Texas A&M. Divinity said he enjoyed his official visit to Tallahassee, Fla., earlier in the month and is excited to head to the West Coast this weekend for his visit to Oregon. The Ducks also run a 3-4 defense, and safety Mattrell McGraw, who hails from New Orleans, is a friend of Divinity’s.
Needless to say, his recruitment is far from over. Divinity says things could change in the coming months when he wraps up his official visits. As it stands, however, there is no clear-cut favorite.
“There is no separation to be honest,” Divinity said. “I feel comfortable at all of them. That was a shocker to me. You go to LSU, especially if you’re from Louisiana, and you’re going to say, ‘That’s home’. But if you go out of state, you don’t know how it’s going to be. But for me, getting out for those couple of days, I felt comfortable just spending that time with the coaches and teammates. I could never say I felt scared.”
Divinity plans to commit in December.