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It looks like College Park, Georgia isn’t the only place that Auburn football has had a curious degree of success in recruiting. Fox Sports’ Thayer Evans has another story out today, this one detailing the exploits of the AU coaching staff in luring two key recruits from the bayou town of Thibodaux, Louisiana.
I spent a lot of time in that area doing hurricane recovery work between 2007 and 2009. Those people bleed purple and gold. But what have we got, here?
Inside the superstore are racks of purple and gold Tigers T-shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants. And in the automotive department in the back, one of LSU’s biggest fans, Sean Nelson, works as an oil-change technician.
This outpost of 14,431 sits in the heart of LSU country, just 70 miles southeast of the Tigers’ campus and 60 miles southwest of New Orleans. It’s known as a fertile football recruiting ground, where the Tigers traditionally claim the best prospects.
But a Tiger of different stripes has been on the prowl in Thibodaux recently: the Auburn Tigers. And when they play Oregon in Monday’s BCS title game, wide receiver Trovon Reed, the top-ranked player in Louisiana last year, will be standing on their sideline, having redshirted this season because of injury.
Slated to join Reed at Auburn next season is another Thibodaux High star, offensive tackle Greg Robinson. One of the nation’s top-rated offensive line prospects, Robinson committed to the Tigers last month, much to the displeasure of some family members.
The common denominator between Reed and Robinson is Nelson. Many people here are upset about their beloved LSU losing out on such highly touted players, especially to a rival SEC program, and some wonder whether Nelson steered them to Auburn for personal gain.
Former Thibodaux High coach Dennis Lorio says several coaches and students saw Robinson show off cash and a new iPhone at school after a visit to Auburn. Robinson wrote in a Facebook message in July that he got the phone when "I came to Alabama.”
“How did players from Thibodaux, La., become so interested in Auburn?” Lorio asks. “That’s a really good question. Trooper Taylor and Sean Nelson would know.”
Sean Nelson is one of LSU’s biggest fans? Hmm. Apparently not. OutsideTheLines at RollBamaRoll.com went looking for Mr. Nelson’s Facebook page, found it, and has a few interesting screenshots to share.
There’s more at the link, and there’s some foul language in there so be warned that it may be NSFW.
But clearly, Thayer Evans was misled by Mr. Nelson. He’s Auburn through and through.
All in, you might say.
UPDATE: The Evans piece describes Nelson’s non-profit in considerable detail. However, a search of the Louisiana Secretary of State’s database does not produce results for Total Package, Inc. Nor does a search for the agent/officer name Sean Nelson.