Blake Bean, defensive end and left tackle for Oneonta High School in Ala., had an experience of a lifetime this past weekend. The junior prospect took an unofficial visit to Louisiana State University on Saturday as the Tigers took on the Gamecocks of South Carolina.
"They sent me a letter at the beginning of the year telling me that I could come to any home again I wanted to," said Bean. "My parents wanted me to go to the Alabama game, but we had other plans come up, so we went this weekend.
"LSU sends me letters every week. Most of them give a summary of last week's game and the stats. They will give you a motivational quote and some remind me to come to the next week game. I could have gone to the Towson game, but I didn't want to watch them kill a team that I don't even know of."
There was no tour of the campus on Bean's trip, but he and his family stilled enjoyed the sights and sounds. Bean especially enjoyed his time in the LSU student section.
"We got down there too late for a campus tour," Bean said. "My parents wanted to walk around the campus, but we didn't know that the traffic would be that bad when we got down there.
"We were supposed to be at the check-in at 5:00 when it started. We didn't get there until 6:00 due to traffic. We walked around campus for a while since we didn't have much time. We checked-in and sat in a room for a little while before one of the coaches let us out on the field.
"We were on the sidelines for a little while when the game started. We got to sit in the student section. I liked it there. Every time LSU would score or make a big play, they [the students] would throw their drinks into the crowd; one lady got nailed in the head with one."
Bean and the other recruits were able to be apart of a rare experience, they were able to celebrate in the locker room with the Tigers after their win.
"The coaches told us when we got there that if LSU won the game we could go into the locker room afterwards," he said. "We got to break it down with the team. It was cool. We left after that."
Bean spoke of the excitement of standing on the sidelines during pre-game warm-ups.
"It was pretty cool; I was just like looking around," he said. "I have never been on a field that big with a bunch of people being loud and cheering. The only other time was when I played in the state championship. I liked it. It was pretty cool. I took a few pictures of some players like Zach Mettenberger, Sam Montgomery, and a few South Carolina guys."
Due to a tremendously important game against a fellow top-ranked SEC team, the coaches spent little time speaking to players individually.
"I didn't really get any one-on-one time," Bean said. "I did meet one of the coaches; I don't remember his name. He was just showing me around the whole recruiting room. We were just sitting in there with our parents or whoever we took with us. They were just telling us thanks for coming out and they hoped we enjoyed the game."
The visit to Death Valley marked a first time watching the LSU Tigers perform live.
"I thought they played hard, but I've seen them play better," said Bean. "They had a few of their starters out hurt."
Bean was told at the beginning of the season that he could attend any of Duke's home games. This weekend he will do just that.
"I'm heading up to Duke this Saturday," he said. "My dad told me after I came home from school the other day that he signed me up for Duke. He told me awhile back that he wanted to go to Virginia game, but I wanted to go to the North Carolina game. That's who they play this weekend.
"I've heard that the campus is really awesome. The girls basketball team at our school went up there last year for a camp, and they were telling me about it. I'm pretty excited about going because Duke and North Carolina are rivals. So I'm sure there will be a bunch of hype and trash talking. My dad and a friend of mine are going with me."
Bean ranked his interest level in the programs of LSU and Duke.
"On a scale of 1-10, LSU is probably like and eight or nine because they send me letters a lot and keep in touch with me," he said. "I would say that Duke is probably like a seven."
Oneonta High School will host Saint Clair County High School this Friday for their homecoming game. Last Friday's 59-21 win against Fairview High School earned the Redskins a spot in the play-offs.