Gardner Has LSU in His Sights

Courtney Gardner

JUCO WR Courtney Gardner's official visit to LSU this past weekend sealed in his mind that Baton Rouge is the place for him. He still has work to do in the classroom, but if all goes according to plan, he'll be on campus in the summer.

Courtney Gardner only started hearing frequently from LSU coaches about three weeks ago, but it didn't take long for him to get sold on the Tigers.

Gardner has been recruited by LSU wide receivers coach Adam Henry, who quickly sold Gardner on the playbook and convinced him of the Tigers' need for a big-bodied receiver.

Gardner came to Baton Rouge this past weekend for an official visit, and left Sunday announcing his commitment to LSU.

"It was exciting. I had a great time," Gardner said. "I bonded with the players, which was one of the most important things I wanted to do. I wanted to get a feel for the coaches, and I'm really excited about the coaching staff and the scheme that we went over. It was a great time."

He didn't go into his visit expecting to pull the trigger.

"I was 50-50," Gardner said. "I was looking for everything I enjoy. It turned out to be the best thing I wanted to do at the end of it. My family loves it, and they're the biggest fans. They grew up in Louisiana, and I've never played in front of my dad. I just wanted to make him happy. It's a great situation for me to go into next year with the position I play and the size I have."

Gardner grew up in Louisiana before Hurricane Katrina displaced him to Reno, Nev. He still has family that lives in New Iberia and Lafayette, and sees his opportunity at LSU as a kind of homecoming.

This past weekend was the first time he'd been in Louisiana since 2009, and the game against Ole Miss was the first time he'd seen live action in Tiger Stadium.

"The atmosphere there, you can't really explain it," Gardner said. "You have to see it for yourself. It was amazing. I had a great time. The fans were crazy, and it was a great game that I enjoyed watching.

"I've always been a big LSU fan since growing up. Whenever they're playing, I'm always on the couch watching it. I want to see them get after it every Saturday. For me to have the experience to go down there and see it for myself was a plus for me."

Gardner's also taken notice of how the LSU offense has come alive lately. Zach Mettenberger has thrown for more than 250 yards in each of his last three games, but Gardner still believes there's one void left to fill.

"They're just missing a big receiver," said Gardner, a 6-foot-4 prospect. "They have all the keys to do it, and all the running backs can play. It's a great wide-out group that's there. All they have to do is stay on the same page with each other, and they'll win."

But Gardner's arrival at LSU in the summer is still not guaranteed. He still needs to take a few classes at Sierra College in the winter intersession and spring semester to qualify academically at LSU.

Sources told TSD on Sunday that LSU doesn't yet recognize Gardner as a public commitment, and for now, he is not yet a member of the 2013 class.

It may seem familiar for Gardner, as he signed with Oklahoma last year but failed to qualify. But this time is different.

"Once I get everything going, it's going to go good," Gardner said. "I've got a lot of support up here, and they've got some people I can call for help down there. It's looking good.

"I have a full ride scholarship. All I have to do is finish my work, get it done and I'll be there in the summertime."

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