Three-star offensive guard Saahdiq Charles picked up an LSU offer, and it means more to him than anyone could know.
Nearly 11 years ago, a tropical depression evolved into a Category 3 hurricane. It touched down on the Gulf Coast of the United States and left, among other cities, New Orleans bare.
More than 400,000 people were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
A 6-year-old Saahdiq Charles was among them.
His mother, a respiratory therapist, was on duty when the storm hit, so the two of them rode the hurricane out in the hospital.
“I was kind of young — don’t remember the details about everything, but it was a tough time. It was just me and my mom at the time, too,” Charles said.
After Katrina had blown through and the levees had burst, New Orleans was in disrepair. And just as so many others were forced to do, Charles and his mother moved — a lot.
They first traveled to Valdosta, Georgia. From there, Charles and his mother moved to Montgomery, Alabama, finally settling in Jackson, Mississippi.
A decade later, that 6-year old has grown into a 6-foot-5, 310-pound teenager on the cusp of playing college football.
One recent offer could lead Charles back to where it all began.
Well, technically, it could lead him 80 miles west of New Orleans to Baton Rouge and LSU — his mother’s alma mater.
The Tigers offered Charles a scholarship almost two weeks ago, and it’s still quite surreal to the nation’s No. 21 offensive guard.
“It felt good,” Charles said of the LSU offer. “[I’ve] been working hard for it, and I was happy and very relieved after I got it.”.
He grew up an LSU fan and probably would have continued his cheering pridefully from within the borders of The Pelican State had it not been for Hurricane Katrina.
Charles can’t change anything about what led him to where he is now; he can only continue spinning forward. Aside from the early-age, in-state ties, he has developed a good rapport with LSU’s offensive line coach.
“Me and [Offensive Line] Coach [Jeff] Grimes have grown a nice relationship,” Charles said of his growing bond with the LSU staff. “We talk on a day-to-day basis.”
The comfort level is obvious. Charles visited the LSU campus two weekends in a row, the latter of which included the Tigers’ spring game.
With that said, Charles maintains he hasn’t narrowed down a list of schools yet, but he knows what he’s looking for in a program.
“The environment,” Charles replied in reference to what makes a school stand out. “I want to fit — not [be] too far from my mom.”
The LSU offer was his sixth overall and second from an SEC program — Mississippi State being the other. The Bulldogs have proximity working to their advantage. After all, the drive to Starkville is about 50 miles shorter than the trip to Baton Rouge from Jackson.
In spite of the distance and being in Bulldogs territory, the Tigers have a special place in his mother’s heart, and moms tend to have big impacts on recruitment.
Charles knows LSU football and Louisiana. The offer just may be the first step in a journey coming full-circle.
Note: Scout rankings and ratings used in this article.
MORE: LSU Football Update As Of April 19, 2016