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November 2, 2012
LSU-Bama could have lasting impact on recruits
LSU's All-American defensive end Barkevious Mingo still thinks about it.
Five years removed from one of the most indelible images in LSU football history Mingo was a junior at West Monroe High School when he took a recruiting trip to Tiger Stadium to watch the LSU-Florida game.
What transpired remains a conversation piece in LSU lore - Jacob Hester scoring from 2 yards out in the last 69 seconds for a 28-24 victory - was a tangible reason why Mingo, one of the nation's top defensive ends, wanted to come to school in Baton Rouge and play for the Tigers.
"I still talk about that game," Mingo said. "I've never been anywhere sitting next to somebody and I'm talking to them and I can't hear myself talk. I started screaming and I couldn't hear myself scream. I'm pretty sure it will be a similar atmosphere here this week."
For the third time in a 12-month span fifth-ranked LSU (7-1, 3-1) and top-ranked Alabama (8-0, 5-0) will face one another but for the first time they'll do so in Tiger Stadium where the Tigers are riding a nation's best 22-game win streak.
The high-profiled SEC's West Division programs have not only garnered the nation's attention with ESPN's Game Day crew and CBS' cameras carrying the game's pageantry and intense action across the country, but there will also be the impressionable eyes of a season's largest number of prospects for an LSU this year.
"It's a big deal," LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry said. "When a guy comes in and sees a stadium like Death Valley they see how it's going to be this Saturday. If you're a player that thrives on things like that where the tradition's always alive it's the place for you."
Landry was on hand for LSU's 24-21 victory over Alabama two years ago, a game whose momentum turned on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Jefferson to Rueben Randle and DeAngelo Peterson reverse to set up a touchdown and set off a capacity Tiger Stadium crowd.
"That was one of the biggest moments when Tiger Stadium erupted and you saw the character of the guys and the hard work they put in," Landry said. "I remember going in the locker room after and seeing all the tears. It was an overwhelming thing for me."
Although there's not an official count of the amount of prospects, along with their families, who will be on hand for the highly anticipated 7:11 p.m. encounter conservative numbers could reach triple digits when you take into account the layers of classes that have been invited.
LSU is scheduled to have 20 of its 22 commitments in the Class of 2013 in attendance with several - quarterback Hayden Rettig of Los Angeles-Cathedral, defensive end Lewis Neal of Wilson, N.C.-Hunt and defensive back Rashard Robinson of Pompano Beach, Fla.-Ely - taking their official visits.
There will also be key '13 targets that could further fortify their top five class with Hope Mills, N.C.-South View defensive end Greg Gilmore, Dallas-Kimble defensive tackle [/db]Justin Manning[/db], Lincoln, Neb.-Southwest defensive lineman Christian LaCouture all scheduling official visits, while in-state plums Tim Williams of University and Kendell Beckwith of East Feliciana will visit unofficially.
Several members of the state's deep '14 class are scheduled to be in attendance on unofficial visits - a group headlined by St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette, West Monroe offensive lineman Cameron Robinson, Barbe wide receiver Trey Quinn, Westlake tight end Jacory Washington, Neville defensive back Laurence Jones and Karr's Gerald Willis III and Speedy Noil.
Defensive backs Tony Brown of Beaumont-Ozene, Edward Paris of Mansfield-Timberview and Nick Harvey of Lancaster High are a trio of Texas standouts that hold LSU offers and expect to take unofficials as well.
"When you come here as a recruit, especially for a game like LSU-Alabama, there's an aura around the field," LSU linebacker Lamin Barrow said. "There's just a feeling you get. I know when I came here I knew this was the place I wanted to be and where I wanted to come. As a recruit to come to a game of this magnitude and be a part of the experience is a great thing. Words can't explain it."
Mingo, who also visited Alabama and Michigan, said in some cases the game's outcome can be secondary to the enormity of the contest itself where in this case two of the nation's top five teams are playing with plenty of implications riding on the end result.
"It's not really the winner," Mingo said. "You're kind of chasing that game. You want to go the team that gives you the best shot of playing in a game like that. You want to be in that kind of atmosphere and play in those kinds of games that matter. Not only to you as a player but to the people in the stands."
Barrow, the team's second-leading tackler this season, recalled the peripheral sights of an LSU Game Day experience during several of his visits making quite an impact before even stepping inside Tiger Stadium for the main attraction.
LSU's famous tail-gating with Cajun spices wafting through the air are enough to stir more than just your appetite for food. There's also the spectacle of the marching band working its way down Victory Hill and stirring the masses into a frenzy before heading inside of Tiger Stadium and later striking up "Hold That Tiger" and setting off a hair-raising roar from nearly 93,000 purple and gold clad fans.
To some, the LSU experience is more than just the game.
"I remember coming and seeing all of these people and had never saw that many people in my life," Barrow said. "And not only were there the 90,000-something thousand but all of the commotion outside the stadium. There's nothing that can top that."
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