The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

November 2, 2012

Connor Neighbors follows his own path to LSU

— BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Connor Neighbors could've followed his grandfather, his father, his brother. That's what everyone expected. That would've been the comfortable thing to do.

Instead, Neighbors wanted to leave his own mark.

So, a family that is firmly associated with Alabama will have split loyalties when the top-ranked Crimson Tide meets No. 5 LSU in Baton Rouge on Saturday night.

Neighbors plays fullback for the Tigers, which seems more than a little strange considering where he came from. His grandfather Billy was one of Alabama's greatest players, standing out on Bryant's first national championship team and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. His father Wes starred for the Tide in the 1980s. His older brother Wesley also played for Alabama and now works on coach Nick Saban's staff.

"I don't want to say I'm the black sheep," Connor Neighbors said with a grin. "I did choose a different path, that's for sure. But I'm glad I came down here. It's been a great experience. I've learned a lot. I've grown up as a man."

Neighbors grew up in Huntsville, Ala., but didn't receive any scholarship offers after high school. He could have gone to Alabama on a Bryant scholarship — a program set up by the late coach to benefit the children and grandchildren of his players — but would not have been able to play right away.

Then, he got a call from LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, who asked Neighbors to walk on in Baton Rouge.

"He said he could help me reach my goals," the player recalled. "I took that to heart. I came down here for a camp going into my senior year (of high school). I just wanted be different. That's why I came down here. It worked out for best for me."

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