- Jamie Newberg, RecruitingNation
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- They are calling themselves "The Fam" for family. It's the LSU 2011 recruiting class, many of which are in-state standouts, and they are making their presence felt here during the Under Armour All-America Game practices.
Five-star offensive tackle La'El Collins (Baton Rouge, La./Redemptorist) has been slowed down this week with an ankle sprain, but he relishes the opportunity and challenge of Wednesday's battle against the nation's top prospect, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe), and the rest of the Red Team defense.
"I have lost some reps and that hurts at a place like this," Collins said. "But I got after it today, and I thought I played very well. It's taking some time to get used to the size and speed of some of these guys. I have heard a lot about Clowney, and I can't wait until Wednesday night. I expect him to come out fast and play well. I know I will get his best, and he will get my best. It's all about competing, and I want to compete against the best."
Collins, 6-foot-5 and 281 pounds, took an official visit to USC, but he said he remains very committed to LSU.
"I am real solid with LSU," Collins said. "Sure, I had a great trip to USC. But we are putting something special together at LSU. We are a family."
Upon making that statement, Collins' future teammate in Baton Rouge, defensive tackle Anthony Johnson (New Orleans/O. Perry Walker), had more to say about this class for the Tigers.
"We are 'The Fam,'" Johnson said. "We are all going there together and we are going to win big. You'll see."
One's committed, one's getting close
Two of the stellar defensive back standouts for the White team are cornerback Demetrious Nicholson (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) and safety Jabari Gorman (Miami/Pace). Both have played well during practices all week, and Nicholson feels this unit will be tough to beat.
"We are going to be dominant, Nicholson said. "I mean, this is the best secondary here. It's coming together. We have chemistry already, and we are communicating well with each other. That's so important playing in the secondary."
Nicholson made a recent commitment to his home state Virginia Cavaliers and is excited about the future of the program under coach Mike London.
"Hey, it's the best school for me," Nicholson said. "I love what coach London is doing. I love what coach London is building. I am just one piece of what he's trying to put together, and he will get it done. I am just so happy that I can help out."
Things have not come so easy for Gorman, at least from the recruiting perspective. Two of his three school finalists -- Miami, Florida and Ohio State -- have made coaching changes.
"I have made official visits to Florida and Ohio State, and I have been to Miami like five times already," Gorman said. "I just need to figure it all out. I am kind of waiting to see what happens with the [assistant] coaches at Florida and Miami. But at the same time, I know that I control my own destiny as a player, not the coaches."
What has come easy for Gorman is his play on the field. He has had a terrific three days of practice.
"Things are coming together for us, and I think I have played very well," Gorman said. "We kind of have that swagger as a unit, and we are playing well together.
Carlisle to announce soon
Amir Carlisle (Santa Clara, Calif./The Kings Academy) has certainly showed his versatility here, coming in as a running back but playing receiver for the White team. Amid the position change for the game, there could be changes at Stanford, with rumors swirling that coach Jim Harbaugh could leave for another job. But Carlisle has had a plan, and he will let the football world know his ultimate decision soon.
"I plan on announcing on Jan. 15," Carlisle said. "It's disappointing that coach Harbaugh is probably going to leave. He's such a great coach, but we all understand. He has to do what's best for him. For me, I visited Notre Dame and USC already. I will set up a trip to Stanford soon and then decide. Right now, I am still committed to Stanford."
Carlisle has made the position switch look easy, but he will tell you that he still has a lot to learn.
"Hey, it's been good. I just have to keep working on my route running and just learning the position," Carlisle said. "I think I have really made some big improvement this week, and I have shown everyone that I really am a versatile player. It's been a great week, and it's all exciting to me."
Is Rome getting close?
The nation's No. 2 tight end, Jay Rome (Valdosta, Ga./Valdosta), has looked and played the part this week. But that's not really a surprise. With everyone awaiting word on his college destination, he appears to be down to three schools.
"It's Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama," Rome said. "I guess Clemson is kind of in the picture. I am real close to a decision, and I have thought about committing at the game. I have prayed about it. I may, but it's not likely."
Rome has already made an official visit to Athens, and he may visit either Knoxville or Tuscaloosa or both.
"Georgia was great," Rome said. "I had my mom and dad up there, and we had a great time. We will see what happens."
Speaking of Valdosta ...
One of the top two-way players from the state of Georgia is Rome's teammate, Malcolm Mitchell. He had a spectacular senior season, catching 77 passes for over 1,500 yards and 16 scores but sat out Monday's practice because of a mild ankle sprain.
"I'm OK," Mitchell said. "I'll be back out here [Tuesday]."
Mitchell is down to Georgia and Alabama, and he said he plans on announcing at his high school on Jan. 13.
Region names five
Six-foot-5, 339-pound offensive lineman Spencer Region (Cullman, Ala./Cullman) said he's still looking at five schools -- Auburn, Wisconsin, LSU, Louisville and Georgia -- and is just about ready to set up some official visits.
"I am going to wait until after this game and then I will set up all my visits," Region said.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.