Just How Successful Is SEC Football in Recruiting out West?

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJanuary 24, 2013

UCLA commit Tahaan Goodman
UCLA commit Tahaan GoodmanUSA TODAY Sports

Despite being surrounded by talent within its own state and the region, LSU was hoping to go national a bit this recruiting season. 

The Tigers were hot on the heels of 247Sports.com 4-star wide receiver Priest Willis from Tempe, Ariz. and 247Sports.com 4-star safety Tahaan Goodman from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. But the two friends decided to stay closer to home, choosing UCLA over LSU on Wednesday, according to Scott Rabalias of the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate.

LSU has recruited well under head coach Les Miles, and there's not shame at swinging and missing at some key prospects outside of its typical wheelhouse.

But when is the right time to recruit nationally?

LSU is clearly making an effort now, the Tennessee teams of the late 90's and early 2000's made a concerted effort to expand recruiting efforts nationally and Alabama has certainly expanded its reach to a national level under current head coach Nick Saban.

You first have to become established as a national brand. Once that is accomplished, it's wise to pick and choose your battles based on team need and how likely it is to land each particular prospect.

The Tigers already have commitments from several key prospects in the class of 2013 from outside of their traditional territory.

Hayden Rettig, a 6'3", 190-pound pro-style quarterback from Los Angeles, has already enrolled at LSU. Rettig is a 4-star prospect according to 247Sports.com, and is ranked as the No. 9 pro-style quarterback in the class.

In addition to Rettig, the Tigers also landed offensive tackle Ethan Pocic from Lemont, Ill. and defensive end Christian LaCouture from Lincoln, Neb. from outside its traditional territory, both of whom enrolled early.

The Crimson Tide expanded west to nab 247Sports.com 4-star quarterback Cooper Bateman from Salt Lake City, Utah. The 6'3", 215-pound quarterback is ranked as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country, and will be one of the primary contenders to replace senior AJ McCarron when he moves on after the 2013 campaign. 

In year's past, Saban has gone north to Maryland to nab Cyrus Jones, Cyrus Kouandjio, Arie Kouandjio and Mark Ingram—all of whom either have been or will be major contributors for the Crimson Tide.

Both LSU and Alabama have established themselves as national powers, so it should come as no surprise that they are expanding their reach to a national level at times. The trick is not to abandon your roots, which neither program appears to be doing.

There are going to be some losses along the way. Auburn and Alabama both swung and missed at 247Sports.com 5-star defensive end Arik Armstead last season, That's going to happen from time to time, but when you're dealing with elite prospects, the reward if you land them is definitely worth the risk.

Will more programs go west for prospects? Probably not. There is so much talent in the southeast that a lot of times, it just isn't necessary. But don't be surprised to see SEC superpowers picking and choosing their battles out west from time to time in the coming years.