The battle between Alabama and LSU has long extended beyond the playing field. The bitter SEC rivals routinely cross paths on the recruiting trail in pursuit of premier prospects, and the stakes are high again once again, as top-ranked running back Leonard Fournette is squarely in each team's crosshairs.
The coveted New Orleans playmaker has scheduled official visits with both programs, per 247Sports reporter Charles Power. A lengthy nationwide recruitment process likely comes down to the Tigers and the Crimson Tide.
"We're going to LSU on an official visit this weekend. We're going to Alabama the next weekend (Dec. 13-15)," Fournette's father told Power.
Each team wrapped up the regular season without a berth in the conference championship game. Now, both program's focus has shifted heavily to recruiting, as LSU and Alabama await their respective bowl destinies.
Fournette, a 6'1", 226-pound product of St. Augustine High School (New Orleans), was unveiled as the nation's new No. 1 overall recruit in the updated 247Sports composite rankings on Monday. He is the crown jewel of a Louisiana recruiting class that features fellow 5-star prospects Speedy Noil (wide receiver; New Orleans), Laurence Jones (safety; Monroe) Malachi Dupre (wide receiver; New Orleans), Gerald Willis (defensive tackle; New Orleans) and Cameron Robinson (offensive tackle; West Monroe).
Alabama has plundered Louisiana's recruiting scene throughout a banner year for talent.
Nick Saban landed Robinson, the nation's top-ranked offensive tackle, in September. He then secured a commitment from Jones, arguably the country's highest-rated safety, on Monday.
In both instances, Alabama beat out LSU at the finish line. The Tide currently hold commitments from four Louisiana prospects, including 4-star wide receiver Cameron Sims (Monroe) and 3-star defensive tackle O.J. Smith (Bossier City).
Dupre, Willis and Noil remain uncommitted. LSU would make a significant leap in national recruiting rankings if Les Miles is able to convince Fournette and other top in-state targets to commit.
The Tigers' 2014 class currently features 15 players. It's ranked 13th nationally and seventh in the SEC, per 247Sports.
Alabama has collected 23 commitments. The Tide appear headed to a fourth consecutive No. 1 class, according to 247Sports rankings.
Fournette is expected to announce his decision on Jan. 2 at the Under Armour All-America Game. He attended Alabama's Nov. 9 victory over LSU in Tuscaloosa.
His offer sheet features Florida State, Michigan, USC, Texas, Miami and Notre Dame. Ultimately, it appears that Fournette's choice centers on a pair of familiar foes.