Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman. Today, we discuss the coincidences that have led to LSU pursuing 2020 running back Ashaad Clayton.
LSU coaches deliver strong message to Ashaad Clayton
HARVEY, La. — Leonard Fournette was the nation’s No. 1 prospect and a spectacle on Friday nights in the fall from 2010 to 2013. Those in New Orleans never missed an opportunity to see him play.
Count Ashaad Clayton in that group, too.
Clayton, now one of the prospects in the discussion to be No. 1 in Louisiana for the Class of 2020, finds himself in a similar situation that Fournette was during his early days at St. Augustine (La.) High School.
Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee were among the offers that rolled in for Clayton during an eventful spring leading into his sophomore season. LSU joined the fray in June after the 4-star tailback turned heads at the joint satellite camp with Tulane in New Orleans.
The LSU coaches’ eyes were glued to Clayton when he and his Warren Easton (La.) Charter School teammates put on a show during the annual 7-on-7 tournament on campus in mid-June. That inevitably led to a return visit for Clayton in July with his family before the NCAA’s dead period arrived at the start of August.
“It was a good experience,” Clayton told SEC Country after his fall scrimmage. “I got to see a couple of things I liked. It’s like a family up there and they treat me like family. It was wonderful, a good experience. They were showing me love. They let me put the uniform on. I liked the feel and I just liked everything about it.”
Showing Clayton love might be an understatement.
The blue-chip Class of 2020 running back spent time in Ed Orgeron’s office and had 1-on-1 face time with running backs coach Tommie Robinson, his primary recruiter. LSU’s head coach made it clear Clayton represents the future wave of the Tigers offense.
“We were in the office just kicking it and talking about everything, about a lot of things,” the 6-foot, 191-pound Clayton said. “He told me that I was the future. … That meant a lot to me because, I mean, that’s all the pressure on me so I’ve got to take advantage of that I’m the eyes of everything.”
Rarely do Orgeron’s recruiting pitches get outdone, but Robinson deservedly took the cake on this visit.
During his sit-down meeting with the Tigers running backs coach, Robinson compared Clayton to his idol, Fournette. And in front of Clayton’s parents and the 2020 LSU target, Robinson delivered a compliment that continues to resonate in the weeks following the visit.
“I was nervous a little, but he treats me like a son,” Clayton said, of Robinson. “He told me that I’ll be better than Leonard and if I go to LSU, then I’ll be the eye of LSU and I’ll be one of the best running backs that they’ve ever had.”
There are no typos there.
Better than Fournette? The eye of LSU?
A compliment of that nature does not trickle off the mind of a recruit from New Orleans, let alone a running back that models his game off of Fournette.
“It meant a lot to me because Leonard … that’s my role model,” Clayton said. “Since I was a little kid and he was at St. Aug, I tried to copy him and paste his stuff into my game. I do whatever he does, so for them to say that I can be better than him, it meant a lot. I will be better than Leonard. I want to be Leonard Fournette, but I want to be greater than Leonard Fournette and accomplish goals that he never accomplished.”
All paths lead to LSU?
Clayton’s first unofficial stop at LSU left a lasting impression.
Among the perks of the visit was putting on a purple and gold No. 2 jersey. For one, No. 2 has always been Clayton’s number. He wears it for Easton and is optimistic he can continue that trend into college, too.
Second, Clayton has always been decorated in purple and gold, because those are the historic colors of Warren Easton. Keeping that trend going into college is also an intriguing idea for the New Orleans native.
“No. 2 has been my number since I was about 5 or 6, so I wanted to carry that legacy to high school and maybe I’ll wear it at college,” said Clayton. “I’ve been purple and gold my whole life — in middle school and now in high school — so who knows … I might be purple and gold in college, too.”
The jersey colors work in LSU’s favor. So does the path that Fournette took to get to the NFL.
Fournette’s trajectory from New Orleans to LSU to the professional ranks is not lost on Clayton. If his idol did it, then following suit is not out of the realm of possibility.
“I watch his highlights every day,” Clayton said. “It’s second nature to me. To me, he is best running back right now. So by him going to LSU and by him being my role model, ever since that I’ve been watching LSU, LSU, LSU.”
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