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 Badara Traore‘s first taste of LSU football, which included talks about development, playing time and a diehard fan base.
Badara Traore recaps official visit to LSU
Badara Traore had never seen SEC football up close … until now. It quickly made an impression.
Traore, the nation’s top junior college offensive tackle, made his first-ever visit to Baton Rouge this past weekend for an official visit, his third after stops at Auburn this summer and Texas last month. The 4-star lineman from ASA College (Brooklyn, N.Y.) experienced true Southern hospitality rivaled only by a unique game environment. The combination of love from the LSU coaching staff, the fan base and a chance to compete for immediate playing time gave Traore plenty to think about as he returned to New York before his bowl game this week.
“It was amazing,” Traore told SEC Country. “I’ve never been to Baton Rouge before. I enjoyed myself. As soon as I got on campus, everybody treated me with open arms, like I was part of the family. The recruiting staff, the coaching staff, it was all amazing. You know when you can feel something when you meet somebody? The way they were talking to me and treating me — it was all genuine stuff. It felt like it was a family-based team down there at LSU.
“There’s nothing like playing at LSU and in Death Valley. I saw it myself. It’s an amazing place to play ball at, the atmosphere, the fans. It was a great time the whole time.”
Jeff Grimes’ résumé stands out for Badara Traore
Traore has been a priority target for the LSU coaching staff, receiving no shortage of attention from both offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and coach Ed Orgeron over the past few months.
Grimes, who is spearheading the 6-foot-8, 315-pound prospect’s recruitment, has immediate playing time to offer Traore with K.J. Malone set to graduate later this year. More so, Grimes’ track record of developing NFL-caliber offensive linemen grabbed the attention of Traore.
“We discussed the need for me to come in and compete for a starting job. That’s what they were selling me the whole time,” Traore recalled. “There’s nothing like Death Valley with a great fan base, great coaches and getting developed by Coach Grimes. We talked about me being developed there, becoming the next great offensive lineman there at LSU. We talked a lot about ball, as him as my coach and me as a player.
“Grimes has a long record of sending big-time offensive linemen to the league. To develop them in the SEC and take it to the next level — guys like La’El Collins, Vadal Alexander, Trai Turner … the list goes on and on. He developed them into NFL-caliber linemen and those are things I look at. Playing in the SEC and making a living off football, his [Grimes’] track record is amazing. It’s crazy. It’s something I look at and paid attention to because Coach Grimes is clearly a great offensive line coach and what I’m looking for.”
Traore will graduate in December and enroll at either LSU, Auburn or Texas in January. If he winds up in Baton Rouge, he can begin being developed by Grimes and competing for the vacant left tackle job right away.
Of course, all three of Traore’s finalists are selling him on immediate playing time, but LSU’s depth chart certainly speaks for itself.
“All the schools are telling me the same thing: that I can come in and compete for a starting job,” Traore explained. “Everybody is saying it, but at LSU, I’ve actually seen it and I feel it. It was there. I’m excited about LSU now and I can’t wait for what’s going to happen next.”
Badara Traore nearing a decision
Traore will play his final junior college game this weekend in Arizona and will look to put an exclamation point on his recruitment shortly after.
The 4-star offensive tackle expects to commit before Dec. 20 or on Dec. 20 at the latest. That’s the first day of the early signing period. LSU is one of his three finalists, and after the official visit, assured itself a cap at the table for his announcement.
“LSU is up there for me,” Traore said. “We’ll find out soon, but LSU is up there for me as far as any school. The edge they have is the atmosphere there.”
The aforementioned atmosphere was unlike the environment on The Plains or in Austin. Traore took in arguably the most electric game inside of Tiger Stadium this fall and saw a lively student section directed by LSU alum Odell Beckham Jr.
Additionally, LSU fans reached out to Traore throughout his three-day visit to the Bayou. Pair that with the strong push from the coaching staff and Traore has a high opinion of the Tigers as he nears his commitment.
“One thing that stood out to me was the atmosphere of LSU … period,” he said. “That night, a great game, people having fun, meeting Odell Beckham — it was a lot. There’s nothing like it. It was a dream. What stuck out was the atmosphere. There’s nothing like playing Saturday night ball in Death Valley against Texas A&M. That was my first time watching an SEC game live and I’m so glad it was at Death Valley. The atmosphere was amazing and the fans showed love. The fans out there were diehard. People knew who I was — the tackle coming in from JUCO — and people just said, ‘Hey, we need you to come down and play.'”
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