As a 6-foot-1, 295-pound eighth grader heading into his freshman season at Lafayette Christian Academy, 2022 LSU defensive line target Fitzgerald West still remembers how coach Ed Orgeron's face lit up when the two met at a connected camp being held at Tulane.
"Coach O was a host at the camp and he sees me and starts talking to me because he likes my size," West said. "When I told him what grade I was in, he was amazed.
"He said 'man, you're a freshman?' and I said 'No sir I'm going to be a freshman' and he just about lost it," West recalls. "Immediately he was telling me to come to their camp and that he'd love to see me there."
West would go to the LSU camp where he gained valuable reps, going against five-star center and current Georgia Bulldog Clay Webb. It was that experience that really left an impression on West’s mind of what he needs to do to get better in the remaining two years of his high school career.
While schools like LSU, Alabama, Georgia and TCU have all shown interest in West, none of those schools have officially made him an offer. Tulane, Colorado, McNeese State and Austin Peay are the main schools that have extended an offer to West.
West is hoping to take some summer visits to TCU, Texas, Alabama, LSU and Georgia but hasn't started making plans due to the uncertainty around the coronavirus.
Currently ranked as the No. 17 defensive lineman in the 2022 class and No. 20 overall player in Louisiana according to 247Sports, there is plenty that West feels he needs to work on. Getting his weight down while improving his speed are the two main areas of focus for West in the coming weeks and months.
"Right now I just need to work on speed and my weight because if I get my weight down my speed is going to improve," West said. "I'm doing a lot of workouts and starting to eat a little better, not eating completely right but a little better. Baked fish and broccoli is my go to meal right now."
One of the main reasons West said he could one day envision himself attending LSU is because of the rich history that comes with the defensive line.
"Everybody thinks of LSU as DBU but I don't see it like that, I think of it as D-line U," West said. "I look up to guys like Tyler Shelvin and Rashard Lawrence as well as Jacobian Guillory, who's set to arrive next season."
West said he talks with Shelvin and Guillory a lot and calls them his big brothers as they're always just a phone call away for advice. While the two aren't trying to sway West completely to LSU, recognizing at the end of the day it's his decision, Shelvin and Guillory do say they feel at home at LSU.
"Jacobian has been telling me that he just felt like LSU was the right place for him, a place he could call home," West said. "I've been there a couple of times and it feels like home but as long as I keep working I know the opportunities are going to come."