LSU's Miles embraces recruits with a three-year plan
LSU loses a lot of underclassmen to the NFL, but Les Miles has a plan to add to the team's depth through recruiting.
"I hear that as I go through the home -- 'Coach, tell me about three-and-out. Is that a goal of yours?' " Miles said. "I say yes, we want to talk about it at the right time as long as it's through the lens of getting a degree and being in the right position not only to being drafted early but staying in the league."
The APR ramifications are inescapable when losing 11 players early, even with examples such as linebacker, Kevin Minter, an early departure who has his degree, according to Miles.
Miles said LSU expects to file paperwork with the NCAA so the mass NFL exodus is considered in the team's APR file.
Big-time programs have no choice but to embrace players eyeing an early draft declaration because that means they are corralling winning talent. It's hard to steer a player away from potentially several million dollars if the first round calls.
But Miles hopes his players are positioned to graduate early while landing a satisfactory draft grade.
"I think it's an advantage in the recruiting game," Miles said. "They have to play like Tigers in the fall."
Losing juniors sends two messages -- you can play early, and no position is safe. Michael Ford rushed 71 times in 2012 but left early. After all, that total wasn't increasing much with Jeremy Hill, a healthy Alfred Blue and Spencer Ware beefing up the backfield.
Losing 11 starters will affect leadership, Miles said. And last year's monstrous defensive line probably won't be as fierce.
But with several top-10 recruiting classes under Miles, elite athletes are waiting to see the field at LSU.
"I think our guys are bigger, faster, stronger," Miles said. "We play in a league that, simply put, brings it. It prepares you extremely well. We recruit NFL-caliber players, and they want the opportunity to be developed.
LSU's class includes two pro-style quarterbacks, five offensive linemen, five receivers, seven defensive linemen, two tight ends, three corners, a safety and three linebackers.
Miles wouldn't be surprised if he finds first-year starters out of that bunch.
"This would be a good time to come to LSU if you wanted to come onto the field as a true freshman," Miles said.
Recruiting stories: Did Les Miles ever tell you about the time he almost closed the deal with Junior Seau? Miles was a Colorado assistant in the '80s and almost persuaded Seau, the former USC and NFL star who committed suicide in May, to come to Boulder. Miles was one of head coach Bill McCartney's ace recruiters and was working the Seau trail.
Let's let Miles tell it:
"I recall it very vividly. He's a guy who bloomed late his senior year. Big, strong, capable guy. We were on him very early. There was a coaching change at USC and he visited Colorado. We had a couple of buddies of his from his area. He had already been in our campus. Fell in love with the place. Absolutely enjoyed it greatly. He said [on his visit] he was coming, it's that simple.
"I had visited the home, visited the school many times, we had a nice relationship. ... About the time we were talking, our point was going to be sometimes young men choose to grow, step away from being close to home, getting used to college life -- that style of thought. The father, in a beautiful way, said, 'You talk too much. My son is going to USC. I just want you to know.'
"From that point forward, I had a very hard time communicating with Junior Seau."
Miles thought about his recruiting relationship with Seau during the All-Pro's passing.
"Colorado really at the time was a fresh choice for him," Miles said. "Some mountains, and some different things. I think he and I got along. I enjoyed seeing him, and I think he enjoyed seeing me."
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