Alabama’s 38-17 win over LSU Saturday began, in some ways, with a victory on the recruiting trail in January of 2012.
In fact, in the aftermath of Landon Collins’ decision to choose Alabama over LSU, Nick Saban has strengthened the Tide’s grip on the rivalry with the Tigers by getting the upper hand against Les Miles on the recruiting trail.
It’s not easy to go into Louisiana and pull players that LSU targets. After all, Saban should know since he coached at LSU from 2000-04 and helped to establish a fence around the border when he roamed the sidelines in Baton Rouge.
However, Saban has slowly chipped away at LSU’s stranglehold in the Pelican State.
|Recruiting Class||Player||Position||Ranking||Hometown||LSU Offer|
|2007||Luther Davis||DE||4-star||West Monroe||Yes|
|2008||Robby Green||CB||4-star||New Orleans||Yes|
|2011||Bradley Sylve||WR/CB||4-star||Port Sulphur||Yes|
|2013||Tim Williams||DE/LB||4-star||Baton Rouge||Yes|
|2013||Raheem Falkins||WR||4-star||New Orleans||Yes|
rankings courtesy of 247 Sports, B/R research
He’s signed at least one player from Louisiana in every recruiting class since he took over at Alabama, but prying a 5-star recruit such as Collins away from LSU was a body blow that the Tigers are still feeling. Add in three commitments from Louisiana players in the 2014 class—including a pledge from the nation’s top player in 2014, 5-star offensive tackle and West Monroe, La. product Cameron Robinson—and the Tide have opened the floodgates in LSU’s backyard.
It was almost symbolic that Collins, who recorded four tackles and had a pass breakup, was the player who recovered LSU fullback J.C. Copeland’s devastating first-quarter fumble as he was set to cross the goal line.
The 6’0”, 215-pound Collins is exactly the type of ball-hawking defender that could have made a difference for LSU’s struggling defense this season.
For most of Miles' tenure at LSU, the play of the Tigers’ secondary has been the envy of nearly every other program in the country.
Playmaking defensive backs such as Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, Eric Reid and Tyrann Mathieu became stars by terrorizing receivers in the SEC.
Given LSU's history of churning out quality corners and safeties under Miles, and the fact that Collins’ hometown of Geismar is less than 20 miles away from LSU’s campus, expecting another school to come in and beat out LSU for Collins seemed like an impossible feat.
Alabama has enjoyed a similar run with outstanding secondary play under Saban, which made the tug-of-war over Collins a defining moment in this rivalry.
It’s easy to see how not having a talent like Collins has impacted LSU, but Alabama would be equally affected if he would have stayed home to play his college football.
Even before he stepped in for an injured Vinnie Sunseri at safety, Collins has been an impact player for Alabama on special teams and at various positions in the Tide’s secondary all season long, as noted by Andrew Gribble of AL.com.
For all of the drama that Collins’ recruitment produced, it was a decision that has had a significant ramifications on both of the suitors who fought until the bitter end for his signature.
The fact that Saban and the Tide ultimately won the battle for Collins helped create the separation between the two schools that was evident in the Tide’s third straight victory over the Tigers.
All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247 Sports.