Longtime LSU pledge Kevin Toliver will take all five of his official visits this fall, opening the door for other programs to present their case for a commitment flip. Along with an early November trip to Baton Rouge, the 5-star cornerback plans to spend time at Auburn, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and UCLA, per Barton Simmons of 247Sports.
Toliver, who committed to the Tigers during his sophomore season, is rated second nationally among cornerbacks and seventh overall in 247Sports' composite rankings. He helped lead Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Florida) to a state title last fall, earning invitations to The Opening, Under Armour All-American Game and U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The 6'2", 185-pound defender is at the foundation of an LSU class that rates 12th nationally in 247Sports' composite team rankings. Toliver was the first member of a group that now includes 15 prospects.
"I had a real good connection with the coaches and everyone who was there,” he told Justin Barney of Jacksonville.com after his 2012 commitment. “I knew I always wanted to go to LSU. There wasn’t no reason to wait.”
Despite dozens of offers at his disposal, Toliver has remained steadfast in his pact with the Tigers. His official visit schedule presents LSU head coach Les Miles with one final gauntlet to survive before securing his long-awaited signature.
SEC rival Auburn is the first to welcome Toliver to campus this season. He will attend the team's Aug. 30 matchup against Arkansas.
Head coach Gus Malzahn quickly reshaped the program's image in 2013, shocking the country with an SEC title and coming within seconds of a national championship. That leap piqued Toliver's interest.
"The big jump they've had from two years ago to last year, that's a big difference. ... They surprised me," he told Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports (subscription required) earlier this year. "I want to go to a game and see how the game environment is."
Auburn could certainly be seen as the most legitimate threat to LSU considering the team's proximity and recent success. If Toliver plays anywhere but Baton Rouge in the SEC, Auburn is the most likely landing spot.
Urban Meyer will aim to win over another Sunshine State prospect when Toliver comes to Columbus for a Sept. 6 showdown with Virginia Tech. Ohio State already holds commitments from Florida defensive backs Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis.
The Buckeyes have assembled quite a stockpile of defensive talent during the past two recruiting classes and could solidify a cornerback spot for the next three or four years with Toliver on board. Fortunately for Meyer, the Florida standout isn't coming to campus during the latter portion of the season when snowstorms are possible.
Fair or not, that can be a deal-breaker for Florida recruits.
Toliver will watch Virginia Tech for the second time in 14 days on Sept. 20. His journey to Blacksburg provides tremendous potential for the Hokies, who've also locked down an official visit that weekend with in-state 5-star defensive end Josh Sweat, rated No. 1 overall in the class.
The pair of highly pursued playmakers will attend Ohio State together two weeks earlier, and that could set the stage for them to conspire about possibly playing together.
Needless to say, it will be one of the biggest official visit weekends in recent Virginia Tech history.
Toliver is set to stay off the recruiting trail for a six-week span before heading to Baton Rouge on Nov. 8, when LSU battles Alabama. It's a chance for Miles, the coaching staff and Tigers fans to remind him why he committed to the team two years ago.
Miles' goal will likely be to have Toliver shut things down after that visit, but UCLA hopes he moves ahead with plans to travel west. The Bruins are set to welcome him into town for a Nov. 22 game against USC.
(Quick sidebar here: When you follow up LSU versus Alabama with UCLA versus USC, you're maximizing a once-in-a-lifetime recruiting process. Well done, Mr. Toliver.)
Jim Mora has been aggressive in his efforts to recruit East Coast athletes. His persistence has impressed Toliver.
"The biggest school coming at me is UCLA," Toliver told NOLA.com reporter Amos Morale in July. "I'm going to take an official visit there just to see what its all about."
The Bruins would love to land a long, rangy cornerback to contend with the significant influx of top-tier quarterback talent set to hit the Pac-12 next season. It's a long shot, but getting Toliver on campus would be a major coup for Mora.
UCLA, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Auburn better prepare their best sales pitches. Toliver will join each coaching staff for a few days this fall, then head home.
More than likely, he'll spend any return trip on the visitors' sideline.
Miles and LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis have been diligent throughout this recruitment and probably expected Toliver to at least explore some other options. He may be taking a nationwide tour to fraternize with other suitors, but this is LSU's chase to lose, and you have to like its chances to reach signing day with the coveted defender still on board 27 months after his initial commitment.
Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.
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