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Willie Lyles asked Texas A&M for $80K
By Kelly Naqi
Willie Lyles, who is Texas-based football trainer who is under NCAA investigation after receiving $25,000 from Oregon, told Texas A&M it had to "beat" $80,000 if it wanted to sign star recruit Patrick Peterson in 2007, a former Texas A&M coach told ESPN on Wednesday.
Van Malone, the former defensive secondary coach at Texas A&M, told ESPN that Lyles phoned him in 2007 after Peterson had visited the College Station campus.
"A few days after the kid's visit, Will calls and says, 'If you want this kid, there are other schools that want this kids as well. They're willing to pay a certain amount of money, around the $80,000 mark,'" Malone said. "He said that was something we were going to have to beat as a university to be able to obtain the services of this kid."
Peterson originally committed to the University of Miami but ended up signing with LSU. Now a junior, he has declared for the NFL draft and is the No. 1 player on ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper's Big Board.
Malone is the recruiting coordinator and defensive secondary coach at Tulsa University. He said he told Lyles that A&M doesn't pay for football players. Malone added he told Patrick Peterson in a subsequent phone conversation that Lyles was trying to sell his services.
Neither Peterson nor Lyles could be reached Wednesday night. Peterson's father, Patrick Peterson Sr., said he remembers taking the visit with his son to Texas A&M.
Peterson Sr. described his son's visit to Texas A&M as a good trip. But he said he had a feeling his son would end up playing in the Southeastern Conference, not the Big 12. He said he had not heard any allegations that Lyles was asking schools for money for his son.
"This is my first time hearing this. This is a shocker," Peterson Sr. told ESPN. "It could have happened. It could have come out of [Lyles'] mouth, that's what happens. These guys try to make money on their own, they are kind of like escort services. That's what I call them, escort services."
Peterson Sr. said he has talked to Lyles at some football camps, but other than that, he said he has no relationship with Lyles. He said Lyles, when they've talked, is often asking him for information on players from Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Fla., which is his son's alma mater.
"It's like Cam Newton, same thing," Peterson Sr. said, referring to the Heisman Trophy winner and former Auburn quarterback whose father was found to have asked for up to $180,000 for Newton to play at Mississippi State. "These guys -- they are trying to get paid. You have to be careful who you talk to, who you deal with it. I just know him [Lyles] from the camps."
LSU officials could not be reached for comment. A Texas A&M spokesman said the university was unaware of Malone's comments about Lyles. Malone said he never told then-Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione about Lyles request because he planned to continue to recruit Peterson without going through Lyles.
Earlier, LSU officials confirmed the school paid $6,000 to Complete Scouting Services, a college recruiting firm that employs Lyles. An LSU spokesman said the school did receive a DVD from Lyles in exchange for the $6,000.
The NCAA is looking into Oregon's $25,000 payment to Lyles' firm and his involvement in the recruitment of running back Lache Seastrunk, of Temple, Texas, who ended up signing with the Ducks. Oregon has confirmed it paid for Lyles' scouting service.
Peterson, who changed his last name from Johnson, was considered the top defensive back in the nation during his senior year in high school in 2007.
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