Brian Kelly makes progress in Louisiana

I’ve never been Brian Kelly’s biggest defender or biggest critic.

I always said he was a competent coach who would win a handful of football matches wherever he was. He’s not Nick Saban, but then again, who is he?

I think too much has been done about how Kelly fits in at LSU. Lincoln Riley is from Lubbock, Texas, and no one made a fuss when he ended up in Southern California.

We’ve also seen Saban and Les Miles win championships at LSU. None of these guys scream Louisiana. If you win football games, people don’t really care where you’re from, and Kelly has won a lot of football games.

There were questions about how he would fare recruiting Louisiana. It was partly because there was all this noise about the culture fit, and partly because he had never been considered an ace recruiter.

The first few months were uncertain. It was a challenge to gain ground with the rookies during the transition. LSU has seen other schools progress with top recruits like Derek Williams and Tackett Curtis. A long-time employee, Omarion Miller switched and followed Mickey Joseph to Nebraska.

LSU was having success nationally, but I wanted to see more success in Louisiana. Over the last month or so, Kelly has assuaged all the criticism I had about it.

LSU has secured commitments from Louisiana OT prospects Tyree Adams and RB Kaleb Jackson.

The big one came Saturday when WR Shelton Sampson Jr. gave his promise and LSU got one of its biggest goals.

Sampson was a guy LSU couldn’t miss. A five-star receiver from Baton Rouge. If Kelly couldn’t seal the deal here, her critics were going to have a blast.

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LSU built steam with OT Zalance Heard. A big hope from Monroe, Louisiana, which On3 has like five stars.

Baton Rouge quarterback Rickie Collins recently signed off from Purdue and seems destined to become a Tiger. Safety Kylin Jackson received a 247Sports crystal ball at LSU earlier this month.

Ultimately, LSU is going to have a strong rookie class from Louisiana. The Tigers still need to improve on the field, but Kelly has done a lot with less skill than he has now.

A decent season should put LSU in a good position to lead the state in 2024.

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