Most expected that Jakhari Gore’s recruitment would be one filled with little excitement.
The three-star running back from Columbus High School in Miami, Fla. had Miami Hurricane written all over him, and for good reason.
Gore’s first cousin, Frank Gore, was a standout back for the Canes and is now in his fifth year with the San Francisco 49ers. In the beginning most felt that he would follow in his cousin’s footsteps, and Jahkari will admit to that as well.
However, as the recruiting process moved along and other schools started extending scholarship offers such as LSU, Tennessee, California, Rutgers, Auburn and Alabama, things began to look a little less certain.
That uncertainty may have become a little clearer this past weekend when Gore – the country’s No. 30 running back – took an official visit to LSU.
“Things went really well at LSU so they are my No. 1 now,” said Gore. “My No. 2 is Cal and then there are a lot of teams trying to get at me now, so I’m going to keep things open to some of those schools like Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Rutgers and Auburn to see what they say.”
Gore (5-8, 175, 4.5) made it to Baton Rouge on Saturday morning and he took the normal tour that recruits take on their official visit which included the Cox Academic Center, the LSU Football Operations building that houses the indoor practice facility, weight room, medical training rooms and more, along with several pit stops at a few other academic buildings.
That wasn’t all he got to see over the weekend, though, as Gore also got a good look at the apartments that football players live in and a quick look at the surroundings that flank the campus.
“It was real good, real good,” he said. “There were a lot of things about LSU that I really liked a lot. I hung out with the team and I liked that a lot. I saw all of the fans at the football game and really liked that a lot. All of the facilities were real nice. It was just a sight-seeing thing that I loved to see.”
While those sites were all impressive to Gore, there was one large venue in particular that was the highlight of his visit.
“Tiger Stadium was amazing to me. It was the best stadium I’ve seen,” said Gore. “It was real nice and it was packed. I saw Mike the Tiger and stood on the sidelines. The atmosphere in that stadium was so real and I just felt like one day I could be playing on this field and having these same fans support me.”
While inside Tiger Stadium, Gore was blown away by the crowd and the atmosphere. The game itself was not packed with offense as the Tigers were on the short end of the stick by a 13-3 score. That, however, did nothing to change the perception of LSU that he had already formed.
“That didn’t have any negative effect on my visit,” he said. “The offense should have put more points on the board, but they didn’t. And that’s happened to my team in some big games.
“When I saw the offense struggling, though, I was thinking that if I was out there giving them my best then maybe it would be a different game. But I know LSU can play better and I know they will. The whole experience was just great all the way around.”
While some of the Tigers may not have been in very good spirits following the game, Gore’s player host – Sam Montgomery – and many others ensured that the night would still be full of fun for the Miami native.
“After the game, the players were down, but they all held their heads up,” Gore said. “Sam really showed me a good time and all of the football players showed up at the same party. They were all talking about how they lost, but they were still together as a team. There wasn’t anyone pointing fingers at anybody else, and you could tell they were a real tight-knit team.”
On Sunday, Gore met with head coach Les Miles and tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Don Yanowsky, who has recruited Gore from the onset, for breakfast and a little Q&A session.
“Breakfast went really well,” Gore said. “Coach Larry Porter, Coach Les Miles, and Coach Yano (Don Yanowsky) asked me a lot of questions, and I asked them a lot of questions.
“They asked me stuff like how I liked the visit and if I could see myself playing for them. They talked about how they would use me in the offense too. I was interested in how my playing time would look and more about how they would use me. I liked what I heard from them. They answered all of my questions, and I think I answered all of the ones they had for me.”
Gore said that Yanowsky will be coming down to Miami on Friday to visit with his coaches and to watch him in action when Columbus squares off against powerhouse Northwestern High School that features one of the top quarterbacks in the country for 2011 in Teddy Bridgewater.
Going into that highly publicized contest, Gore has rushed for 871 yards and 12 touchdowns on 79 carries which puts him on pace to shatter his junior season stats of 1,156 yards and 15 scores.
NCAA rules prohibit Yanowsky from making an in-home visit at this time of the year, but Gore has already spoken to his parents about where things stand in his recruitment and about a timeline for making a commitment. They weren’t able to accompany him on his visit to LSU, but they’ve heard plenty upon his return to South Florida.
“I came home pretty excited and was ready to do my thing,” said Gore. “I talked to my mom and she said she was glad that I was so happy with LSU, but I needed to take my time. She always says time will tell and she just wants what’s best for me.”
Finding what is best for him may come sooner rather than later and Gore says he may be ready to make a commitment within the next month.
“I’m going to Cal on Nov. 7 then depending on what the other schools say I might be ready to do something after that Cal visit,” he said.