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 Tigers’ top uncommitted running back target, Harold Joiner, who admits he has been close to making his much-anticipated decision.
4-star RB Harold Joiner close to making a decision?
MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. — If it were up to Harold Joiner, the nation’s No. 5-ranked running back would be committed.
Of course, that isn’t the case.
Joiner, a 4-star prospect from Alabama, had originally planned on making a decision ahead of his senior season — or at least early on. The U.S. Army All-American has toyed with the idea of giving a verbal pledge and knows the school he would choose. However, his father advised patience, which is why Joiner is expected to take up to four official visits before finalizing his plans in December.
The plan, Joiner said, is to wrap up his senior season at Mountain Brook (Ala.) High School and head to San Antonio, Texas, committed. He already has a strong idea of which school he’s favoring.
“I’ve thought about it,” Joiner told SEC Country when asked if he’s been close to committing. “My dad is telling me to hold off and wait. He’s telling me to wait because I’m putting some other schools in it that need a running back, not just want one, and I can see who gets drafted and what running backs [my top] schools pick up.
“I’m pretty confident it’s LSU. I wanted to commit somewhere and I’ve thought of committing somewhere early, as early as last month, but my dad wanted me to hold off.”
The Tigers have been out in front for the 6-foot-3, 218-pound tailback on and off since the spring. Early on, Joiner named LSU as his top school, given the Tigers’ need for backs in 2018 with the impending departures of senior Darrel Williams and junior Derrius Guice. That faded quickly after the team landed commitments from Chris Curry and Tae Provens, but running backs coach Tommie Robinson worked feverishly to again improve LSU’s standing with Joiner.
Joiner has made his top school obvious since visiting last month for the Auburn game. He has sported purple-and-gold Tigers gloves the last few weeks to symbolize the direction he’s leaning and provided this rationale for why LSU is out in front.
“It just feels at home,” Joiner explained. “I fit in great there. The coaches don’t lie to me and I know who I have to beat out. I know who’s leaving and it should be good there. The coaches are honest with me and Coach T-Rob knows I can play my freshman year.
“I know I can at least rotate in my freshman year, but I know I need to get developed and learn the playbook. But it shows me that he’s up front with me and honest and won’t lie to me.”
Gauging LSU’s lead for Harold Joiner
Joiner is open and honest about his top school, but there isn’t a monstrous gap from the other schools still in consideration.
LSU remains No. 1 ahead of Alabama. Both are ahead of Ole Miss and Auburn, but all four schools are expected to host the 4-star tailback for official visits over the next two months.
How did the Tigers create some separation from the pack?
“I feel like the other schools I was interested in got more running backs committed,” Joiner explained. “UGA got the No. 1 running back committed and then they got [James] Cook. Auburn got [Asa Martin] and I feel like they didn’t need me. At LSU, I feel like I can beat out the other [commits] and beat the two guys out that are there right now.
“Alabama is up there with them, but LSU is still above them. It’s not a very big one [lead], but it’s there. I think Alabama has seven running backs and they’re all great backs. Some of them might play their senior year and that’s tough to experience. I want to at least rotate in as a sophomore and play my junior year.”
With Guice and Williams on their way out, LSU will have a competition to see who takes over in its backfield for the 2018 season. Nick Brossette will be the veteran of the group in his senior season. There’s also Lanard Fournette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, as well as Curry and Provens, the two current backs committed in the 2018 recruiting class.
Robinson believes Joiner could compete for playing time as a freshman, which is not lost on the prospect.
“Basically, he’s telling me that they’re ready for me,” he said. “They’re telling me who’s leaving and he knows I can beat out some of the guys out there and I know that I can. It means a lot, and I know that he tells every running back that, but I believe that I can. I have confidence in myself.”
Harold Joiner returns to Baton Rouge on Nov. 25
The first official visit on the docket for Joiner will be on Nov. 25 when LSU hosts Texas A&M in its regular-season finale.
The return trip to Baton Rouge will mark Joiner’s second visit to campus in as many months, this one holding even more significance as he looks to dot the Is and cross the Ts on his leading school ahead of a December decision date.
After visiting in October to see LSU’s comeback victory against Auburn, he returned home even more confident that he’d wind up playing his college ball in Tiger Stadium. His return in November could help make that decision permanent.
“I thought it was great,” Joiner recalled. “They were down like [20-7] right before the half and I thought: ‘This has to be over.’ I didn’t think they were coming back, but I watched them come back and it was great. All I thought about on the way home was that they’re still my top team.”
Joiner is also expected to officially visit Auburn, Alabama and Ole Miss before making a decision. He expects to commit before the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
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