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Alabama-LSU rivalry just as fierce in recruiting

by | Special to CBSSports.com
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LSU and Alabama have a chance to showcase their programs to recruits this weekend. (US Presswire)  
LSU and Alabama have a chance to showcase their programs to recruits this weekend. (US Presswire)  

The fiercest rivalry in college football is also the most vicious along the recruiting trail.

According to 247sports.com, 33 recruits in the class of 2013 have offers from both No. 1 Alabama and No. 5 LSU. That amounts to more than a quarter of all offers by each program for the recruiting cycle, as the Crimson Tide have extended 128 scholarships, while the Tigers have tendered 111. Of those prospects with offers from both programs, LSU has produced seven commitments to Alabama’s six.

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For two programs that continuously produce NFL-caliber players, the challenge to replenish the depth chart with elite talent is the foundation that fuels the rivalry in the fall.

"They don't seem to like each other on and off the field," CBS Sports college football recruiting expert Tom Lemming said. "The competition for players is intense -- just as much so as the competition on the field."

With the teams facing off Saturday in what will likely be one of the most-watched games of the 2012 season, LSU has an opportunity to prominently showcase its program to the number of recruits on official and unofficial visits for the weekend in Baton Rouge.

CBSSports.com has learned that the following prospects are planning to attend Saturday night's showdown:

Class of 2013 visitors

1. DE Greg Gilmore (South View High School/Hope Mills, N.C.), 90th overall player
2. DE Christian LaCouture (Lincoln Southwest/Lincoln, Neb.)
3. QB Hayden Rettig (Cathedral High School/Los Angeles), 9th pro-style quarterback
4. ATH Ricky Seals-Jones (Sealy High School/Sealy, Texas), 6th overall player
5. DE Kendell Beckwith (East Feliciana High School/Jackson, La.), 2nd athlete
6. DT Justin Manning (Justin F. Kimball High School/Dallas), 6th defensive tackle
7. DE Tim Williams (LSU Laboratory School/Baton Rouge, La.), 21st overall player


 Rankings according to MaxPreps.com

Class of 2014 visitors

1. OT Cameron Robinson (West Monroe High School/Monroe, La.)
2. RB Leonard Fournette (St. Augustine High School/New Orleans)
3. CB Nick Harvey (Lancaster High School/Lancaster, Texas)

Lemming said that a rivalry game in November typically has a greater effect in establishing momentum for the class of 2014, and added that more juniors are expected to attend. Because LSU (22 commitments) and Alabama (19 commitments) have already secured most of its class of 2013, only a select few spots are left. Both programs will have to judiciously pick whom they want to bring into the fold.

The recruitment of Kendell Beckwith in particular is noteworthy for the rivalry. The defensive end from East Feliciana has narrowed his college choices to Alabama and LSU. Beckwith’s visit to Baton Rouge Saturday will be an unofficial trip, and he will spend one of his five officials on LSU later in the year. Beckwith will also take an official visit to Tuscaloosa when Alabama hosts No. 16 Texas A&M on Nov. 10.

Growing up 45 minutes outside of Baton Rouge, Beckwith has seen a fair share of Alabama-LSU games. He was at last season’s defensive display in Tuscaloosa when LSU defeated Alabama 9-6 in overtime. Come Saturday, he's merely looking to enjoy another showdown between the rivals.

"The game is not going to play a big factor in my decision," Beckwith said. "Whoever wins, wins."

What will Beckwith be focusing on instead as he works toward a decision?

"Just where I can see myself for the next four years," he said. "I want to be able to feel at home and meet the people that I'm going to be around to see if I'm going to be comfortable or not."

Although Beckwith won't decide based on Saturday night's contest, coaches from both programs recognize the importance of these prominent matchups. Not only do they generate interest locally, but they also create exposure in the opponent's backyard.

"Is this game important?" LSU coach Les Miles asked when presented with a question about the recruiting rivalry. "It sure is. This game has the potential to have an environment that's pretty special. Last time they were here, that environment existed again. We'll look forward to that environment."

Although Beckwith and other recruits may like both programs now, that sentiment certainly won't last. Even from afar, the defensive end has witnessed the hatred within the rivalry.

"Them guys -- both of them -- they battle," Beckwith said. "They battle hard."

That goes for recruiting, too.

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