Bessemer (Ala.) Jess Lanier linebacker LaDarius Owens has become one of the most highly-recruited prospects in the entire southeast. His explosiveness at the point of attack and his athleticism in pursuit have schools from around the country anxious for his signature.
Early in the summer, Owens has already had the opportunity to take in some programs on unofficial visits and some of those visits have given him enough of a feel to list his top five. That top five consist of (in order of favorites) Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida State. He also mentioned that Mississippi State and Clemson are still on his mind.
LSU's emergence on the list of favorites follows a visit to Baton Rouge this weekend in which Owens came away extremely impressed with the Tiger program, particularly new defensive coordinator John Chavis.
"We got there Friday and hung around and talked to a lot of the recruits and a few of the coaches and talked to Les Miles," Owens said. "We had a good talk and then later that night I talked to Coach Chavis for about an hour about life and making decisions and talked about how they would use me on defense."
Owens also spent a good bit of Saturday getting feedback from some of the current LSU players and their thoughts on the current coaches, including the new additions like Coach Chavis. Overall Owens enjoyed all of his conversations but his interaction with Chavis had the most lasting impression.
"That was really what got me into it," Owens said of his talk with the seasoned defensive coordinator. "He was telling me how I'd be used and the impact that he makes on players not only as a coach but as a friend and a father figure."
While LSU made up significant ground this weekend with the visit, Owens still thinks of Auburn as the favorite.
"With Auburn I guess it's the family atmosphere," he said. "I feel like I'm at home and they provide the best coaching and living environment. And the way they're going with recruiting in the years to come they're going to start winning a lot."
Owens feels that Auburn players, fans and coaches won't have to wait long for those wins to arrive.
"A lot of people don't expect Auburn to do much this year but talking to the coaches and the players and the way they feel about the new coaching staff – if you believe in your coaches and play hard for them, you're going to be successful – and they believe in those coaches there."
Owens also touched on the other teams that made up his top five.
"Mostly with Alabama it's Coach Willis and Coach Sal," he said. "Those are the guys. They feel like I can come in and make an immediate impact and compete and really make a difference. Me and Coach Willis, we've been tight since he was at Auburn so I'd like to play for him but I have to play for the place that's best for me.
"Tennessee, they need linebackers and their coaches have a lot of experience and really know what they're doing. Coach [Orgeron], he seems like he really gets people working hard and would be a fun coach to play for.
"I don't know too much about Florida State I just know they need linebackers and they were my childhood team."
Next up for Owens is a possible trip to Alabama but his focus is beginning to turn more towards working out with his teammates.
"I want to work out with the team for a little while but I think I'm going to go to Alabama this weekend," he said. "I kind of want to go to Auburn this weekend because some of my friends are working out there though so we'll see what happens."
Owens is targeting a decision by the end of the summer. If he doesn't feel comfortable with a school by then, the highly-touted recruit may wait things out.