The 2009 recruiting class at LSU is shaping up to be one of the top classes in the country. One of the emphases of the class is to solidify depth and talent on the defensive line. This weekend, the Tigers hosted some big name official visitors that could add that exact element to an LSU defense and perhaps none of them has as much raw talent and upside as Homestead (Fla.) South Dade defensive end Ed Stinson.
Back in April, the athletic pass-rusher committed to Florida State but since then Stinson has been looking around, particularly at Alabama and LSU. This weekend he was able to see both schools in action for his first official visit when the Tigers took on the Tide in Death Valley.
"It was a great game and a great atmosphere," Stinson said. "It was the loudest stadium I've ever been in. The atmosphere was crazy but then when the sun went down, the announcer came on and said the sun has went away. After he said that, it was unbelievable."
Stinson was in Baton Rouge with his coach John Herron, someone who has been through the process before.
"My coach has been to a lot of games and a lot of stadiums," said the senior defender. "He said that this was unbelievable. You can feel the chill and the excitement throughout the stadium."
Also at the game, Stinson met all of the other star-studded participants in LSU's big official visit weekend and the list was quite impressive. One meeting in particular stood out to Stinson.
"I was there with Frankie Telfort, (Jarvis) Jones out of Columbus, Ga. Akiem Hicks was there and I guess he ended up committing. There was a big lineman from Utah. I also got to meet Russell Shepard. That was real exciting. He came up to me and said he watched my highlight film and said 'you are a beast.' That was real cool, meeting the number one player in the country."
Stinson made the trip to Baton Rouge on Saturday morning following a Friday night game. Once he arrived in the bayou, the trip was jam-packed with activities. The itinerary included breakfast, a locker room tour, a campus tour and he even got to meet a few former Tigers and current NFL stars that were on hand for the game.
After the game, Stinson had a productive conversation with Coach Les Miles, where the head coach made it clear what a priority the 6-foot-4, rush end is to the LSU staff.
"The thing that really impressed me was when I talked to coach Miles, he said 'if you're looking to redshirt you need to go to another school. I need you to play.'"
Another coach also left a good impression on Stinson, a coach with some south Florida roots, strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffit.
"I met the strength coach and he has to be good because he used to be at the University of Miami and he said Edgerron James used to be a hard worker and now Patrick Peterson is the hardest working freshman he's ever had," he said. "I know if he had some great players when he was at Miami so if he'll get me right."
All in all, the trip was a success and though it was only his first official visit, it left a strong impression with Stinson.
"It was a great trip," he said. "As of right now, I would put them right there as 1A and 1B with Florida State up until I visit Alabama this weekend and see what they're all about. The playing time is here if I work, there is the academic support system and the small environment of the town and city."
Though he enjoyed his trip, Stinson knows that there will be more to come before he is ready to make any decisions and it starts next weekend in Tuscaloosa for his official visit to Alabama.
"That was my first official visit so I was impressed but my coach, Coach Herron is going to be going to the Alabama visit with me again so he's keeping me grounded on these visits cause he told me that every school is going to have tradition. It's the players, the coaches, the academic system. When you feel it you'll know which school it is."
Following his official visit to Alabama next weekend, Stinson anticipates making an official visit to Florida State - possibly in December – before making his final college decision. He also plans to get up to LSU again with his father to let him see the campus and to get a non-gameday perspective.
"One of the things Coach Herron told me is to take football out of the equation and see if you can see going to the school without football. My coach has been real helpful guiding me with this."