One of Ed Orgeron’s biggest regrets as LSU football‘s head coach is not signing Louisiana native Travis Etienne during the 2017 recruiting cycle.
Etienne ended up signing with Clemson and was a two-time ACC player of the year (and won a national championship in 2018).
Prior to LSU’s matchup against Clemson in the 2019 national championship game, Orgeron spoke to reporters about not signing Etienne.
“Every time I watch Clemson play or every time I see him having success I’m sick to my stomach, said Orgeron in late 2019 (via The State.com). “Obviously we like our running backs and we have great running backs here, but we wanted Travis Etienne at the end, but it was too little too late.”
"I offered Travis really late as the interim. I had a home visit with him. I told him how much we wanted him. But it was too little too late then. He had made up his mind already. So it’s something that I think we should’ve done a better job of. We should’ve recruited him at an earlier age and like all great Louisiana backs we keep them in state. He’s the one that got away."
LSU missed on Etienne because they put a priority on running back Cam Akers, who ended up signing with Florida State. At the time, the Tigers were afraid if they offered another running back that it would scare away Akers.
Another Travis Etienne situation for LSU football?
The in-state talent in Louisiana is an incredible resource for LSU.
But it’s a blessing and a curse.
Because there’s so much talent, the Tigers are often forced to make tough decisions (like not offering Etienne sooner).
LSU can’t sign all the great players in Louisiana. So when one signs elsewhere and stars, it’s especially painful knowing that one got away.
The Tigers could be facing a similar situation with 2022 three-star running back Marlon Gunn Jr, a Baton Rouge native.
LSU likes Gunn a lot according to 247Sports’ Shea Dixon.
“The staff has a very close watch on Gunn and he’s been invited in for camp this summer,” wrote Dixon on Friday.
The problem for Gunn, who doesn’t have an offer yet from the Tigers, is that LSU currently running backs TreVonte’ Citizen, Le’Veon Moss, and Trevor Etienne (Travis Etienne’s little brother) at the top of their in-state running back recruiting board.
It’s very possible that LSU doesn’t sign Gunn because of Citizen and/or Moss.
If that happens, and Gunn ends up being a star for another SEC program, it’s going to be tough for Orgeron to digest.
That’s part of the stress of being a head coach in the SEC, though. Unfortunately for Orgeron, there are no crystal balls to predict how recruits will pan out.