Top 2022 Tight End Jaleel Skinner on Being Coached by Cam Newton, Strong Relationship with LSU Football
In January of this year, Jaleel Skinner was surfing through Instagram while sitting in class when a direct message popped up on his account. It was from NFL quarterback and former league MVP Cam Newton, who coaches a 7v7 travel team in the offseason called "C1N."
"I thought it was a joke, I was like 'Man there's no way Cam Newton's texting me,' " Skinner said.
Newton offered Skinner the opportunity to play on the team and after one practice with the team, Skinner knew he'd found a great team to be a part of.
"With him being an NFL quarterback, he's teaching you the game and if you watch us play it looks like we're an NFL team," Skinner said. "He's teaching us stuff they do in the NFL, running routes and plays they do in the NFL. He keeps it real with you. If you mess up he's going to let you hear it and he's going to help you fix it."
Because of the pandemic, the team only was able to play in one tournament but did very well and Skinner plans on rejoining the program whenever 7v7 tournaments are allowed to start up. Though short lived, it was an eye opening experience for Skinner, who would make the two and a half hour drive from his hometown of Greer, South Carolina to Atlanta with his parents every Sunday for practice.
Now the 2022 prospect is starting to see his recruitment pick up in recent months and recently picked up an offer from LSU. Skinner said it was a great experience to get an offer from the defending national champs but that wasn't the biggest reason he was pumped up about an offer from the Tigers.
"I've always liked how LSU breed's receivers, they've put many great receivers in the league so it was really great to get an offer from them," Skinner said. "They said they liked my film, that I'm a physical receiver, I'm a tough player and that I'm one of those big receivers that can go up and get the ball. If you need somebody to come down and put his hand in the dirt, I'm that type of guy."
You might think from that quote that Skinner is being recruited by the Tigers as a wide receiver but in actuality, the Greer High School product has built himself into one of the premier tight ends in the 2022 class. At 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, Skinner is ranked as the No. 2 tight end and No. 74 overall prospect on 247Sports composite rankings.
His offer list includes not only LSU, but Clemson, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Oregon and South Carolina. The Tigers are recruiting Skinner as a flex tight end that can split out wide as well as slide down to the offensive line and be a blocker when needed.
It's a role that many LSU fans will get to see out of freshman phenom Arik Gilbert in 2020 with the program as the Tigers hope to use him all over the field. In regards to his game, Skinner has put a lot of time into perfecting his routes, mainly with his release at the top of the route.
Physical attributes play a big role in Skinner's abilities on the field as well. In addition to the height, Skinner is one of the speedier tight ends in the class as he runs a 4.51 40-yard dash.
"I'm out with my wide receivers and our quarterbacks every day running through our plays," Skinner said on his offseason work load. "I think I'm a big, speedy, flex tight end and I have the strength to play on the inside and do the dirty work to."
His ultimate goal is to perfect all of the routes on the tree which would make him even more lethal than he was as a sophomore. Skinner considers himself a very versatile player and it shows based off the kind of season he had in 2019 and the interest he's receiving from college programs.
"You tell me to go anywhere on the field and I'm going to go there and play it to the best of my ability," Skinner said. "My role at Greer, I'm usually split out wide and occasionally I'll slide in so it's been great practice for me because that's the kind of role I feel will fit me best in college."
Skinner hopes his relationship with the LSU staff will continue to grow in the coming weeks and months. The rising junior was able to hop on the phone with coach Ed Orgeron, who wants Skinner to keep in contact with the staff on a weekly basis.
What sticks out the most to Skinner about the Tigers and what they're building under Orgeron is the constant winning pedigree shown over the last few years.
"I really like the staff down there, I really like the team and I really can't wait for all of this to clear up so I can get down there and visit," Skinner said. "That program know how to win and it's just a great program from top to bottom. I like how the players always look like they're having fun down there."