by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
In one of the biggest recruiting moves of 2023, the cycle's most-prized receiver eschewed the advances of Alabama, Texas A&M and Florida State to make it official: Baton Rouge's hometown hero is staying in the 225!!!!!
On Saturday, Catholic High's title-winning WR Shelton Sampson Jr made the decision to stay home, exciting the entire LSU fanbase in delirious, fever pitch fashion; Quite possibly the #1 priority player for Brian Kelly's entire inaugural class, Cortez Hankton, Joe Sloan & the entire offensive staff have once again passed the test.
As #6 continues a legacy of home-state WR heroes making it big at LSU, the Tigers' 2023 class has now jettisoned itself inside the top 5 recruiting rankings.....now holding a commitment from their second 5 star wide out inside a month.
Wide receiver was always expected to be a top priority for our 2023 class; Anticipating the Spring 2023 NFL Draft departures of Kayshon Boutte and Jaray Jenkins, while 2021 WRs Jack Bech, Malik Nabers, Chris Hilton Jr and Brian Thomas Jr are all heading into their "money year" that fall, simultaneously watching 5 WRs enter the portal (just one transfer in, Kyren Lacy).....it was obvious the Tigers absolutely had to seal elite, grade A-level talents at that position.
In gaining Sampson Jr's hard fought commitment, Brian Kelly's LSU are making a major statement: Not only is the Irish Tiger capable of delivering top talents from all 50 states, he's capable of installing the widely talked about "fence" around Louisiana at a rate far quicker than his predecessors.
Quiet throughout his recruitment, Shelton Sampson Jr isn't a young man full of brash behavior or flashy tricks....he's all about work ethic, dedication, doing things the right way and winning.
Capturing a state title alongside current LSU Tigers Emery Jones & Noah Nash, Sampson Jr is ready to join his close friends on the same roster once again; reeling in 932 yards & 8 touchdowns from 40 catches, all as he battled through a dislocated pinkie injury....making his production stand out even more.
So, how did LSU earn Sampson's commitment????
Because of his Division I-ready size, every top school and LSU rival pursued Sampson from the first moments to the last. Staring down endless criticism about his ability to recruit Louisiana talents (after Derek Williams' commitment to Texas), Brian Kelly and his staff rammed the pedal to the floorboards....making sure a pair of stunning must-haves made their pledge: OL colossus Tyree Adams as well as high octane running back Kaleb Jackson.
Sampson's visits & camp attendance were a major plus for his LSU recruitment, receiving one on one film room study time alongside WRs Coach Cortez Hankton, as well as on-field instruction from the former UGA National Champion; Giving the weekend a "business vibe", Sampson Jr was ushered inside LSU's state of the art Football Operations facility for lengthy talks within Head Coach Brian Kelly's upstairs office, complete with overlooking balcony;
Additionally, Sampson Jr was able to watch Kelly's vision unfold, with class pillars such as Mac Markway, Jaxon Howard, record breaking RB Trey Holly, OL Tyree Adams (with Zalance Heard appearing to be close to committing, as well) alongside fellow 5 star WR Jalen Brown firmly committed and solidifying LSU's upcoming future ....
Then, during last weekend's Bayou Splash event, Sampson told LSU's offensive staff the good news: he was in.
Just as we heard in our exclusive profile of Sampson Jr, a close family member told us "Sampson Jr would announce his decision before Catholic High's season started".....and just as LSU Odyssey stated long ago, Sampson Jr's recruitment wasn't a saga between Alabama & LSU, or an NIL race vs A&M.....the Catholic High champion's commitment to LSU is an affirmation of the young Baton Rouge native's purple & gold destiny.....
Following in the footsteps of LSU's greatest receivers, Tiger wideouts like Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, Josh Reed, Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Michael Clayton, Dwayne Bowe, Wendell Davis, Terrace Marshall, Eric Martin and 2022's Biletnikoff-candidate Kayshon Boutte, Shelton Sampson Jr isn't merely choosing LSU so he can suit up in the sexy white away jerseys; This young man is working to create history....each and every rep....
Quite simply....these are the type of players who win LSU National Championships.....and Brian Kelly just grabbed another...
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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