Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman. Today, we discuss the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker, Owen Pappoe, who recently settled on a top three. With a commitment coming after his junior season, where do the Tigers sit?
Owen Pappoe down to 3, decision nearing
SHREVEPORT, La. — Owen Pappoe is down to three schools. He will not reveal which three, but they are the finalists he will choose from at the conclusion of his junior season at Grayson (Ga.) High School.
The common thread binding his current top three is what he knows about each of the campuses and coaching staff, as well as a steady push over the last four years.
“I’m getting ready to commit after the season,” Pappoe told SEC Country at Battle on the Border. “I’m already down to three schools, so once the season is over I’m going to commit.”
When asked which schools were finalists for the nation’s No. 1 linebacker in the Class of 2019 …
“I ain’t saying,” he laughed. “I ain’t saying. I ain’t saying.”
Pappoe has kept his lips sealed. Rumors flying about in Oregon during The Opening Finals suggested that UGA, Clemson and Florida State were all in play for the 5-star outside linebacker. He visited all three of those schools this summer, including two stops at nearby Athens, Ga., and a camp down in Tallahassee, Fla.
While Pappoe refused to name names, he did outline how he settled on his final three choices.
“Ever since the eighth grade, all three of those schools have recruited me the hardest,” he explained. “I have a good time there all the time. I love everything outside of football — the campus and the people there — and I fit well into their defensive schemes.”
LSU outside of the top 3, but pushing
Pappoe won’t reveal his final three schools, but noted that LSU is on the outside looking in. And the Tigers, they are pushing.
Pappoe made a spring visit to Baton Rouge for junior day, where he began to develop a relationship with LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. The coach and star linebacker have remained in touch ever since. In fact, Aranda has dialed up the communication as of late, which is paying dividends for the Tigers’ chances of potentially emerging as a finalist this fall.
“LSU isn’t in there, but they’re close to getting in there,” Pappoe said. “My relationship with Coach Aranda — he’s on me all the time. He’s my dude. He’s doing a good job recruiting me.”
Aranda is eyeing Pappoe as a middle linebacker, but has discussed his position versatility and how that would fit in LSU’s 3-4 defensive scheme. Middle linebacker and safety are options on the table.
For the 6-foot, 207-pound Pappoe, the comps to former Tigers standout and recent third-round NFL draft pick Duke Riley are just. Aranda also is selling Pappoe to look beyond the Peach State and consider out-of-state schools such as LSU.
“LSU’s defense is really good and I think that I’d fit real well into the 3-4 scheme because it’s what we used to run here [at Grayson],” said Pappoe. “He likes me at middle linebacker and safety, depending on how I grow, but middle [linebacker] would be my primary position.
“He [Aranda] keeps telling me he sees me like Duke Riley. The biggest thing is distance, and he tells me that if I go there he would make sure they take care of me all the time.”
It doesn’t hurt that fellow Class of 2019 blue-chipper and Grayson teammate Kenyon Jackson also is recruiting Pappoe. Jackson, the lone wide receiver commit in the Tigers’ 2019 class, visited LSU on Sunday after Grayson’s toppling of a ranked John Curtis (La.) Christian squad.
He tried to bring Pappoe along for the ride, but Pappoe didn’t make the trip. He did suggest he could make his way back to the Bayou this fall.
“Kenyon, he be on me all the time, too,” laughed Pappoe. “He wants to go to school with me and he’s told me that it [LSU] is a good spot.”
So can LSU vault its way into Pappoe’s top three with a decision rapidly approaching?
It’s not out of the question.
While Pappoe indicated that when he makes a decision it will be final, his final three is not set in stone, and LSU is the primary team in the mix to crack that top group. Much will depend on the rest of the Tigers’ 2017 season.
“Whoever I commit to, I’ll be 100 percent, but they [LSU] could get in,” he said. “[It depends on] how my recruitment goes with them from this point on and how they do this season.”
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