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BATON ROUGE — Imagine you are a five-star prospect visiting LSU.
You are sitting in a rocking chair on the balcony of the home of new LSU coach Brian Kelly on University Lake with a view of Tiger Stadium and the Memorial Tower in the distance.
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And suddenly, Tiger Stadium lights up.
Kelly could probably have someone do that Saturday night when he and his wife Paqui host two dozen or more high school prospects from around the country at his $2 million, 5,000-square-foot palatial home after his first spring game that afternoon in that stadium.
The estate includes a 1,054 square foot guest house, where Arch Manning could reside comfortably for a weekend. Manning would need the high ceilings as Archie Manning’s grandson is 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds. Manning, the No. 1 pro style quarterback prospect in the country by Rivals.com from Newman High in New Orleans and nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning, will not be visiting LSU this weekend though. Texas is in the lead for him with Georgia and Alabama in the mix.
But Kelly will have the nation’s No. 3 pro style quarterback, Dante Moore, over for the weekend, among other top prospects. Moore (6-3, 199), a five-star prospect like Manning, is from Martin Luther King High in Detroit and is also considering Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Cincinnati, Florida, Florida State, Miami and Michigan, among others.
“It’s beautiful,” Kelly said of his view of Tiger Stadium from his house on Thursday night. “There were a lot of things that went into that. We wanted proximity. It’s less than a mile from campus, which allows us to entertain official and unofficial visitors (prospects), and that was huge for us.”
An NCAA rule enacted over the last decade allows for coaches to host prospects on unofficial visits within a mile from the campus at a home or restaurant. Unofficial visitors pay their own way. Prospects on official visits have their travel and meals as well as that of their parents paid for by the school. Official visitors can be hosted by coaches within 30 miles of campus. Unofficial visitors cannot be hosted by coaches unless it is within a mile. Prospects are allowed only one official visit with an unlimited number of unofficial visits.
“With Brian Kelly’s home being within a mile of campus, he will be able to host all prospects – official and unofficial visitors – at his home,” Bo Bahnsen, LSU’s retired director of NCAA compliance, said on Friday. “If he lived more than a mile out, he could only have the official visitors over and would have to tell the unofficial guys they couldn’t come.”
Before the mile radius rule, schools often violated the rules by mixing unofficial visitors with official visitors at host sites around campus, Bahnsen said.
If Kelly lived outside a mile, for example, he couldn’t have Trey Holly, the No. 9 all-purpose back in the nation from Union Parish High in Farmerville, Louisiana, over because Holly (5-8, 195) will be on an unofficial visit this weekend. Among the other official visitors Holly can mix with on Kelly’s balcony are five-star prospect Carnell Tate (6-2, 170) – the No. 3 wide receiver in the nation from Marist High in Chicago – and four-star prospect Daylen Austin (6-0, 178) – the No. 20 cornerback in the country from Poly High in Long Beach, California.
“We want to use it as a place to entertain,” Kelly said. “Less than one mile from campus, you can have unofficial visitors over, which we are going to be doing this weekend, actually. So, you’re welcome to come over.”
Kelly quickly recanted that statement.
“No, you can’t,” he deadpanned to the reporter, drawing laughs. “But that was important. And we wanted to be close.”
In recent years, coaches have started purchasing condos near campus for recruiting purposes. Kelly has more than a condo with “unparalleled views of Tiger Stadium, LSU Memorial Tower and sunsets” and walking distance away from football tailgates, a real estate listing commented.
Kelly is also inside the Interstate 10 bubble, so he will not have to travel on it to get to and from work and many other places in and around LSU. Baton Rouge is one of the largest cities in the nation without an interstate loop, thus causing major traffic issues on I-10 on a daily basis as it is filled with local commuters and those passing through.
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“I think that those were probably the two main factors,” Kelly said of proximity and recruiting.
The recently updated home includes a large living area, formal dining room, spiral staircase, four bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms, a kitchen with teak floors from a New Orleans warehouse, balcony, outdoor dining area, outdoor basketball court and a prayer room that could come in handy before and after Alabama games, or it can be converted into an office.
Kelly’s wife is not living in the home yet as she and their family remain in South Bend, Indiana until the school year ends.
Kelly left the Notre Dame head coaching job in December of last year for a 10-year contract worth nearly $100 million. The contract included a $1.2 million, interest-free home loan.
He signed purchase papers on the house on March 15 at the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court office along with Beth Rex, his chief of staff. The sale price was not available. It had been listed at $2 million in 2019.
“Would’ve been nice if it was a little cheaper, but it seems like the real estate market in here is pretty hot right now,” he said.
Kelly, a native of the Boston area, was unsure how many houses he has purchased in his lifetime. He began his coaching career at Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts, before becoming a head coach at Grand Valley State in Allendale, Michigan, and at Central Michigan and Cincinnati before Notre Dame.
“If I’m going to take a quick guess, I’m going to say that is number seven,” he said.