LSU Football: Why Les Miles Must Beat Nick Saban on 2013 Recruiting Trail

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IJune 26, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05:  (L-R) Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide shakes hands with head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers before their game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

There is an up-and-coming rivalry forming in the SEC, and it isn't between Alabama and Auburn or Florida and Georgia.

The annual LSU vs. Alabama game is turning into one of the top rivalry games throughout all of college football, and it isn't because these teams hate each other to the extent of an Ohio State-Michigan matchup. Its because both of these programs are so darn good, and only one of them can rule the college football world.

Throughout the 2011 season, there was never a doubt that LSU and Alabama were the two best teams in college football. As much as it upset fans, especially those of Oklahoma State, to see two SEC teams playing one another in the National Championship Game, that's the way it had to be.

Alabama fans desperately wanted one more shot at LSU, the way children want one more toy, one more snack or one more minute to watch iCarly. And despite the fact that the first matchup between these two teams was about as exciting as watching that one last minute of iCarly, the bottom line is that these two teams deserved to play in the National Championship.

The college football world got their matchup between the two best teams in the nation in last year's National Title Game, whether they wanted it or not. And at the end of that football game, when the scoreboard read 21-0 in favor of Alabama in what was one of the most one-sided Championship games in the history of the sport, it was obvious that a rivalry had been formed between these two college football power houses.

Now, nearly six months later, these two teams are going at it once again. But this time, they aren't  on the football field and instead are on the recruiting trail.

Everyone knows that the best high-school football is played down South, and in return, that is where the top prep talent in the nation comes from on a year-to-year basis. Les Miles and his LSU coaching staff have been known to own the state of Louisiana when it comes to recruiting, but that took a sudden turn last season when Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide had the last laugh after stealing the states top recruit.

Landon Collins, a five-star defensive back from Geismar, LA, which is approximately 20 miles South of Baton Rouge, shocked LSU fans last season when he made a sudden commitment to Alabama at the annual Under Armour All-American Game.

After that, Les Miles has made it his personal mission to make sure that LSU puts a fence up around the state of Louisiana, locking up the state's top talent on a yearly basis. Most importantly, they did this to make sure that Alabama doesn't come in to steal any more of the Tigers' top in-state targets.

Much to his credit, Miles' plan has worked out to perfection thus far with the 2013 class. LSU has already received 16 verbal commitments for 2013, nine of which are in-state prospects. In fact, those nine in-state prospects were the first nine players to join this class, something that Miles has to be happy about.

Looking at the Tigers' 2013 class thus far, 11 of the 16 players are ranked as four-star prospects according to, giving the Tigers' one of the top recruiting classes in the nation up to this point.

On the other end of the spectrum, Alabama has reeled in 18 recruits up to this point, including one five-star recruit (Rueben Foster) and 10 four-star prospects. But if you look closely, only one of those prospects (Raheem Falkins) is from the state of Louisiana.

This will continue to be an ongoing battle between these two college football powerhouse programs all the way up to National Signing Day.

There are still several big-name recruits out there who have both LSU and Alabama listed in their schools of interest. Perhaps the most important is defensive end Tim Williams, who is the top ranked prospect in the state of Louisiana and the No. 2 ranked weakside DE in the country according to He lists both Alabama and LSU in his finalists, along with several other national powerhouse programs.

After what happened with Landon Collins last year, Miles certainly doesn't want to see the same thing happen with Williams. He has made it a point to put a full-court press on this talented prospect who plays right in LSU's backyard at University Laboratory High School.

If Miles is able to land Williams and lock up the several other top-notch recruits that LSU is after, then the Tigers have a good chance at topping the Crimson Tides' 2013 recruiting class.

This is important for LSU because it puts the Tigers in a good position to bring back the title to Baton Rouge in the future.

After that embarrassing loss in last year's National Championship Game, Miles and his LSU program need something to redeem themselves, and reeling in a top-rated 2013 recruiting class would be a perfect start.