Nelson Stewart, Vinson's former head coach at Isadore Newman High School in New Orleans, said there was just "too much talent" in the LSU secondary and the move to SLU, a school 30 minutes east of Baton Rouge, La., offered "a clean break" with a chance to play immediately.
"LSU has been very good, very helpful through this whole process," Stewart said. "Not everyone can be like our Odell Beckham (a Newman graduate who has emerged as a starter at LSU)."
LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette confirmed Vinson's departure. Vinson will not have to sit out a year since SLU is a member of the Football Championship Subdivision. Stewart said he expects Vinson to have a chance to start right away for the Lions.
Vinson, a four-star prospect rated the No. 21 athlete in the country by ESPN coming out of Newman in 2010, was expected to contend for playing time at LSU in the coming season. But he has seen other young defensive backs move in front of him on the depth chart. During his redshirt freshman season in 2011, he played in seven games, mostly on special teams, and made two tackles.
Vinson was moved from safety to cornerback in the spring, but redshirt freshman Jalen Collins emerged as LSU's No. 3 cornerback behind Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon. The No. 3 cornerback gets a lot of playing time at LSU because of the Tigers' tendency to use five defensive backs, moving Mathieu to a nickel spot.
At safety, when Craig Loston missed the spring game, Micah Eugene and Ronald Martin got the playing time instead of Vinson. Stewart said he expects the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Vinson to play safety for SLU.