Mardi Gras started a little early in Oxford on Monday night when Lafayette High quarterback Jeremy Liggins chose to play for the LSU Tigers and coach Les Miles. The 6-foot-3, 275-pound EAGLE Player of the Year in 2009 and 2011 picked the defending Southeastern Conference champions over Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and Auburn on the Sports Roundup’s Commitment Show held at Irie on the Square.
“I just feel I made a great decision because I believe in LSU football, the coaching staff and the players that are down there. I was looking at a place that had a great head coach, that was going to be real to me from the start to the end, to be able to go out and compete with guys that are going to be on a national championship level,” Liggins said about choosing the Tigers. “I want to be there. That’s the thing about it, I want to go to a program that can help me get to the next level.”
Liggins, who accounted for 114 touchdowns during his three-year varsity career at LHS, has been recruited to play quarterback at LSU the entire time by Miles and his direct recruiter, defensive line coach Brick Haley. Liggins has built a strong relationship with the pair and said he felt Miles had always been honest about his role with LSU even as some doubted his ability to play quarterback at the next level.
“He’s been telling me I’m his guy ever since I came down there,” said Liggins, who said he knew it was going to be LSU a week ago despite a misinformed rumor he had dropped the Tigers. “Deep down inside, my heart was telling me LSU, to be in Baton Rouge. That’s what I wanted to do, that’s where I belong.”
Lafayette head coach Anthony Hart can back up those sentiments about the way Miles recruited his signal caller.
“Coach Miles told me that Jeremy was his pick, that he was the one he wanted. Coach Miles said he wanted a mobile guy, somebody that could move around back there,” Hart said. “I feel like they are going to be able to use Jeremy in their system.”
Hart added that he felt like LSU started to win Liggins over when Miles attended the Commodores’ game at Shannon this season.
“I didn’t really pay attention, but I know that he was there a long time. He was there before the game and stayed way past halftime. To me, that made a lasting impression,” said Hart, who told Liggins he would help in the recruiting process as much as he needed. “I had a lengthy conversation with Coach Miles (Monday) about Jeremy. He told me that he and his daughter and Jeremy took a walk together around the hotel on the visit. He told me how impressed he was with the way Jeremy treated his 8-year old daughter. I think Coach Miles cares about his players and I think that made a real impression on Jeremy.”
LSU had the No. 1 rated quarterback in the nation, Indiana’s Gunner Kiel, verbally committed at one time during the year before he ultimately enrolled early at Notre Dame. Liggins was asked about that situation by reporters who covered his commitment announcement and Liggins said Miles never wavered about him playing quarterback, even if Kiel remained a commit.
“I know that he was being truthful because he told me when they got that guy what the situation was going to be,” said Liggins, who told Miles he was coming Sunday. “I told him that I was going to stick with him and be his guy. He was true to me and stuck with me the whole time. LSU has been in my heart since day one.”
Liggins added he stuck with all three of his finalists — LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State — because they continued to recruit him as a quarterback and didn’t discuss moving him to another position on offense or defense like some have speculated about.
Some reporters questioned Liggins on why he decided to hold his announcement ceremony on the Square and so close to Ole Miss, his second choice in the process.
“It wasn’t really as hard as people made it out to be because I felt like I had to be respected because this is my hometown too, not just Ole Miss,” Liggins said. “I grew up here. I wasn’t just doing it to go against Ole Miss. I was doing it to support my hometown.”
The last few days and weeks of Liggins’ recruitment turned negative on various message boards as fans seemed to try and find ways to figure out where the standout signal caller was headed.
Liggins said he didn’t buy into any of the negativity that appeared late in the process as he emerged as one of the last top players from Mississippi to be uncommitted.
Liggins did say prior to making his announcement on the show that the recruiting process had been stressful and he was looking forward to making his decision.
“People are going to say negative stuff regardless. I keep living. I put all that behind me. I keep looking forward. I’m not worried about all what people say about me,” Liggins said. “I was aware (people said I couldn’t play quarterback). They’re going to say what they want to say. It’s all about what you do when you get out there on that field. I’m a quarterback, an SEC quarterback.
“I know there are going to be guys my size out there that are going to be bigger, faster, stronger. It’s all about how you prepare.”
Liggins helped lead LHS to a 46-2 mark in three seasons, lead the ‘Dores to three appearances in the Class 4A state title game and back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011.
Liggins can sign his National Letter of Intent to make his verbal commitment binding Wednesday. (January 31, 2012, Page 8)