Saivion Smith had Florida Gator orange and blue plastered on the walls of his childhood bedroom.
“Born and raised die-hard Florida fans,” Anthony Smith, Saivion’s father said.
Along with junior safety John Battle and sophomore cornerback Kevin Toliver, Smith decided to leave his home state of Florida to play for LSU.
And to Louisianans, their lingo is a bit uncommon.
“First of all, they cut their words,” senior Rickey Jefferson, a fellow defensive back, said. “When they refer to where they’re from, they call it ‘the crib.’”
The clash of cultures often leave players wondering about the use of their jargon. Battle said whenever he, Toliver or Smith make a play, they’ll reference the “crib,” but teammates jokingly remind them of where they are now Louisiana.
“Stop saying you from Florida, you‘re in Louisiana now,” their teammates jab at them.
Battle, a native of Hallandale, Florida, showed Jefferson firsthand the culture of Florida during a spring break trip to Miami the last two years. Jefferson likened Florida’s culture to New Orleans and called Florida one of his favorite states.
The Tigers like to use the moniker “DBU,” which stands for “Defensive Back University,” and LSU coach Les Miles and defensive backs coach Corey Raymond like to venture to Florida for defensive backs.
All three players traveled a combined 2,204 miles from their respective hometowns to Baton Rouge, with Battle living the farthest in Hallandale, Florida, but LSU’s roots in the state reach deep.
In the Tiger’s last four signing classes, LSU have signed at least one defensive back from Florida, creating a pipeline of defensive backfielders to LSU’s campus.
“LSU is DBU,” Battle said.
Toliver committed to the Tigers his sophomore year of high school and never backed off his pledge, and when LSU offered Battle a scholarship his junior year of high school, it was always his top choice.
Miles already has another Floridian safety locked up in his 2017 signing class with four-star Grant Delpit.
To Saivion’s father, Toliver was an “integral” part of showing Smith — a lifelong Gator fan — around LSU’s campus during the recruiting process. Like Toliver, Smith graduated high school early and practiced with the Tigers in the spring. He hopes to see a good amount of playing time this season.
But Smith, a former five-star according to Scout.com, decided to bring his “Florida swagger” to LSU’s program, which had an National Football Leauge-high 11 defensive backs.
Anthony said the tradition that former LSU standout and native of Pompano Beach, Florida, Patrick Peterson started was something he wanted his son to be a part of.
“The whole mantra of DBU,” Anthony said. “That’s what he’s been shown with defensive backs coming out of Florida going to LSU.”
Schools like IMG Academy, which brings students from different countries across the world to attend their school for sports and other top-tier academic programs, helped Smith adjust to being around LSU’s diverse roster.
Battle has also taken Smith under his wing and the three are “pretty tight.”
Now a “simpler” and more “understandable” defense, the Tigers are trying to keep up their reputation as the best defensive backs in the country.
“We’re going improve this year,” Toliver said about the Tigers No. 51 ranked pass defense last season. “It’s going to be a good year.”