Sure, Alfred Blue could have gone elsewhere.
Coming out of Hahnville High in 2010, the 6-foot-2,205-pounder was considered an SEC-caliber prospect at both running back and linebacker, and he picked up offers from the likes of Auburn and Ole Miss.
But, the idea of playing for titles – from the SEC to the BCS – kept the Boutte native in Louisiana.
“I’ve never won a championship, and I came to LSU to do that,” Blue said.
Despite being in a crowded backfield where Blue sometimes falls to the third or fourth slot on the depth chart, the decision to become a Tiger isn’t one he has ever regretted – even if it has meant coming to grips with limited touches.
“I am glad I am here,” he said. “Sometimes I wonder if I was somewhere else, but I’m glad I made the decision to come to LSU. I don’t want to play to have good stats. I want to win a championship.”
If LSU players are hoisting the crystal ball in New Orleans this January, Blue will win his first title.
But that likely won’t be the main thing he remembers about 2011.
On Sept. 27, everything changed for the Blue family.
What Blue figured to be a normal Tuesday, with class in the morning and practice in the afternoon, was anything but that.
He received a call that his family home in Boutte, which housed his mother, grandmother and three younger siblings – Alyhea, Clarica and Clarence, Jr. – had burned to the ground.
Nobody was hurt in the fire, but the Blues lost everything.
Within a week, LSU had set up the Relief-4-Blue Fund, which assisted the family with money through public donations.
Under NCAA Bylaw 16.11.12, fundraisers are acceptable in “extreme circumstances ... extraordinary in the result of events beyond the student-athlete's control.”
After a mid-week trip to visit with family, Blue returned to Baton Rouge in time for the SEC home opener against Kentucky on Oct. 1.
Blue said all he wanted to do was play football, and LSU coach Les Miles let him do just that.
The offensive staff gave Blue a season-high 16 touches against the Wildcats, and he reeled off 72 yards and a touchdown. The following weekend against Florida, Blue carried the ball 14 times for 70 yards and another touchdown.
In a sense, Saturdays became Blue’s quick escape from his reality back home.
“It’s awfully comforting to put your head down and go to football practice and put your head down and get good grades, and realize that hopefully those things are very temporary and they will eventually have answers,” Miles said.
“Alfred Blue is a wonderful man. I would expect it of him.”
Blue, who said the news left him in a daze for a few weeks’ time, credited his teammates with lifting his spirits.
Senior offensive lineman Will Blackwell was one veteran Tiger who took charge.
“He didn't want to tell us about it at first,” Blackwell said. “He tried to keep it quiet. He's a very reserved guy.
“But (the news) came out, and we kind of rallied around Blue. We love Blue, you know, he's a hard-working kid and he doesn't say much, so anytime you have a guy who puts the effort into it like he does, then it's hard not to rally behind him.”
Senior safety Brandon Taylor added: “That’s a lot, when you lose your house. That’s a part of you and a part of your family. But he handled it very well. He didn’t let it bring him down. He acted the same around us. He didn’t change anything.”
With the fire nearly two months in the rearview, Blue said his family has moved on – thanks in large part to the support from LSU fans.
“Everyone has been good, my mom and everyone,” Blue said. “They have pretty much put the fire behind us. We are moving forward.
“You can’t dwell on it. You have to keep going.”
Taylor added: “(Blue) still goes home from time to time to be with his family. I think they are going to make it through.”
Thanks to efforts like a 119 yard, two-touchdown performance against Western Kentucky on Nov. 12, Blue is quickly becoming a fan favorite, which the sophomore running back said has meant more than he can explain.
After Blue has a big run, those aren’t boos showering down from the Tiger Stadium crowd.
They are simply cheers for more Blue.
“I appreciate all that (support),” Blue said. “Sometimes during the games I don’t even hear (the fans) because I am so into the game when I run, but when I come to the sidelines I can hear them saying ‘Blue!’”