LSU has started early piling up commitments in the Class of 2017, but there remain major dominoes that have yet to fall.
In keeping with the Tigers’ longstanding theme, and their key to success with last year’s class, many of those dominoes hail from the state of Louisiana.
Naturally, some of The Boot’s premier prospects in the 2017 recruiting class are garnering attention from top college programs across the country. LSU will have to stave off not only SEC rivals, but other championship contenders in order to keep the state’s elite players home, as well.
Here are six prospects in the Class of 2017 that LSU needs to keep in Louisiana:
Devonta Smith, four-star WR (Amite, La.)
The nation’s No. 12-ranked wide receiver, Smith noticeably left LSU out of his top three the last time he spoke with SEC Country.
However, he didn’t rule out the Tigers just yet.
The 6-foot, 165-pound four-star prospect out of Amite High School (La.) maintains a strong relationship with LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond. Should the Tigers offense finally turn a corner and begin to install some more spread principles on a regular basis, Smith admitted that he would elevate the Tigers’ stock.
For now, Smith remains high on Alabama, Ole Miss and Miami, where former UGA coach Mark Richt continues to recruit the Louisiana speedster. Smith previously committed to the Bulldogs before Georgia fired Richt after 15 seasons.
A spread offense is one of Smith’s sticking points, so we’ll have to watch what LSU does this spring and summer to follow up on the promises it has made to numerous recruits. The addition of former Auburn wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig has to be a positive sign for the Tigers’ chances with Smith.
Smith is arguably the top athlete overall in Louisiana, so losing him to an SEC rival would sting even more.
Cheyenne Labruzza, three-star CB (Albany, La.)
Labruzza has yet to blow up as one of the nation’s premier cornerback prospects, but that should come in time.
Rated as a three-star prospect, the 6-foot, 183-pounder out of Albany High School (La.) has picked up offers from Texas A&M, Baylor, Florida and Ole Miss in the past month. He received an offer from the Tigers during LSU’s “Boys From The Boot” junior event in mid-February.
Quietly, Labruzza is distinguishing himself as arguably the best cornerback in Louisiana in the Class of 2017 and LSU is going to make a strong push to land him and continue to uphold its reputation as “DBU.”
For now, there seems to be mutual interest between the fast-rising defensive back and LSU, but there is a lot to be sorted out. Labruzza’s recruitment is going to intensify, which could level the playing field.
Expect the cornerback to climb atop LSU’s big board in the coming months.
Bruce Jordan-Swilling, four-star RB (New Orleans)
The No. 4 prospect in The Boot, Jordan-Swilling is one of — if not — the most explosive running back in the Class of 2017.
The Brother Martin High School (New Orleans) star broke out for nearly 2,000 yards his junior season, his first as a full-time running back. He split time on the offensive and defensive side of the ball his first two seasons.
At 6-foot, 215 pounds, Jordan-Swilling is a bruiser, a workhorse and a nightmare for opposing defenders to tackle.
LSU could try to pair the New Orleans native with 2017 commit Clyde Edwards-Helaire for a dynamic thunder-and-lightning backfield. While Edwards-Helaire is an elusive and versatile scat-back, Jordan-Swilling can wear down defenses, much like that other running back in LSU’s backfield — Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette.
Jordan-Swilling’s running style is reminiscent of Fournette’s when he starred at St. Augustine. Do not be surprised to hear more comparisons between the two backs into the 2016 season.
Keeping Jordan-Swilling in the state is a major task for LSU, who will have to hold off the likes of Alabama, Miami and Oklahoma, among others. First-year running backs coach Jabbar Juluke will be tasked with spearheading his recruitment.
Adrian Ealy, four-star OT (Baton Rouge, La.)
One of the nation’s most sought-after offensive linemen in the 2017 class, Ealy can’t help but recognize the connection to LSU.
The 6-foot-7, 280-pound prospect, rated as the No. 26 offensive tackle in the country, holds offers from numerous SEC teams , including Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee, plus increased interest from Alabama.
The four-star tackle has had a longstanding relationship with LSU coaches and is already familiar with the campus. Ealy’s decision will be greatly influenced by where he can earn early playing time.
This season the Tigers are undergoing much turnover along the offensive line following the departures of Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander. Ithas left a young collection of talent to step into prominent roles entering the 2016 season.
That may deter Ealy from committing to LSU, but it’s undeniable that the familiarity with the program favors the Tigers.
Ealy is a coveted prospect across the SEC, and as one of the premier offensive linemen in both the state and the nation, the Tigers will be challenged to keep the University Lab (Baton Rouge, La.) product home.
Keldrick Carper, four-star ATH(Plain Dealing, La.)
Carper does not hold an offer from LSU, but the Tigers are not out of the race just yet.
Perhaps the shakeup in the coaching staff has precluded LSU from making an offer to the four-star prospect and No. 19 athlete in the nation.
A theme in LSU’s 2017 recruiting class is to stockpile athletes to help fill needs at different positions across the field. It’s a bit perplexing to try and decipher why Carper, one of the best overall athletes from The Boot, has yet to receive an offer.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder out of Plain Dealing High School (La.) has garnered offers from across the SEC, including Texas A&M, Mississippi State, UGA, Ole Miss and South Carolina, just to name a few.
Many of those offers have come in the last month, as Carper has become a name on the national scene.
There’s a good chance that LSU coaches are well aware of the elite talent just hours away, and are merely slow-playing Carper.
Carper was supposed to visit Mississippi State this week, but those plans got derailed due to his father’s illness.
A main target of so many of LSU’s conference rivals, the Tigers must prepare to swoop in on Carper before the athlete begins to seriously consider other offers.
LSU will certainly have a chance to make up ground with him, so long they don’t overplay their hand.
Lowell Narcisse, four-star QB (St. James, La.)
LSU has dished out offers to multiple quarterbacks over the last couple of weeks. In fact, eight quarterbacks from across the country hold offers from the Tigers.
They will all have to take a back seat to Narcisse, though.
The nation’s No. 5 dual-threat quarterback is arguably the top target for LSU’s 2017 recruiting class and has held that title for some time now.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound prospect out of St. James High School (La.) has maintained a rock-solid relationship with LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron since before his junior season. Cameron watched as Narcisse tore his ACL in his spring game in 2015, and continued to recruit the quarterback even after he pledged to Auburn on his 17th birthday last summer.
LSU continues to pursue Narcisse, and there appears to be mutual interest, at least at this early stage in the process.
With so much emphasis on extending offers to different quarterbacks, LSU could very well find itself with two signees come National Signing Day. One of them needs to be Narcisse.