LSU’s 2018 recruiting class took a major blow on Thursday as 4-star defensive back Nadab Joseph opted out of the class.
That de-commitment dropped the Tigers down to 19 commitments in total and two defensive backs. Kelvin Joseph is being recruited as a versatile defensive back that can line up at corner or safety and Ar’Darius Washington is projected as a nickel safety.
LSU is expected to add at least two more defensive backs to their 2018 class, but the departure of Nadab Joseph makes the haul a bit more tricky to figure out.
Joseph was among LSU’s first commitments in the 2018 class. He was offered by Corey Raymond last June at the elite high school camp and before returning home to Florida, gave a verbal pledge to then-head coach Les Miles. Joseph returned on multiple occasions, including the Tigers’ spring game in April and elite high school camp in June, which helped Raymond to hold onto his versatile Florida commit.
“I’m still locked in with LSU,” Joseph told SEC Country in April. “They have been doing what they have been doing since I committed last summer,” Joseph said. “They constantly keep in contact with me and keep checking on me to see how I’m doing in school and just to see how I’m doing. Me and Coach O are starting to talk a lot, too, and you know that Coach Raymond is just my guy. We always talk. I’ve also gotten a chance to sit down and chat with Coach [Dave] Aranda.”
Joseph rescinded his commitment at a time when Alabama, UGA and Florida State are strongly pursuing him. Those in Alabama believe Joseph could find his way into the Crimson Tide’s 2018 class. Earlier in the spring, it was UGA that was deemed as the biggest threat to LSU. Florida State has an in-state advantage with the Miami-area defensive back. All should be considered teams to watch for Joseph moving forward, as well as LSU.
What’s next for LSU’s pursuit of DBs?
There aren’t too many options left on the board. Truth be told, the answer might be right in front of us.
LSU remains in a prime position to land the nation’s No. 1 cornerback, Patrick Surtain Jr. The 5-star corner from Florida is a heavy LSU lean, and despite still considering Florida State, Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State, there is a strong feeling that Surtain winds up in this class.
Besides Surtain, there is a strong likelihood that Raymond looks to add a fourth defensive back to the 2018 class. Three other options include 5-star corner Anthony Cook, 4-star corner Isaac Taylor-Stuart and 3-star safety Joseph Foucha.
Cook included LSU in his final three and will head to Baton Rouge for an official visit in the fall. He’ll be at Ohio State — considered his other top school — in September, which could give the Tigers the final crack at the Houston product before he makes a decision. Sources have told SEC Country a decision could come as early as October or in November. A visit to LSU before then could certainly bolster LSU’s chances with the U.S. Army All-American.
While at Nike’s The Opening Finals in Oregon, Taylor-Stuart admitted he has been quietly high on LSU for some time. He is very aware of the “DBU” reputation and has already booked an official visit to Baton Rouge for the fall. Taylor-Stuart, the winner of the “Fastest Man” competition at The Opening, has family in Louisiana, too. Ed Orgeron has had weekly FaceTimes with the 4-star corner. It’s worth noting that Southern Cal is considered the favorite for the California native, but with another spot available in LSU’s class it’s hard not to consider Taylor-Stuart a likely option.
Foucha, a 3-star safety from New Orleans, added an offer from LSU after June’s elite high school camp. Foucha added the Tigers to his group of seven finalists earlier this month and made stops in Baton Rouge and at Alabama and Florida State before the Dead Period. LSU has quickly vaulted close to the top for Foucha, who is being courted as a nickel. He is capable of playing multiple positions in the secondary and could pounce on the chance to play for his home-state team.
There’s also a Plan B
Expect LSU to land either Surtain or Cook and maybe a combination of those two and Taylor-Stuart and Foucha. Again, four is the projected number of defensive backs that Raymond will reel in for the 2018 class with Kevin Toliver, Donte Jackson and Ed Paris likely heading to the NFL after the season.
One sleeper to keep an eye out for is 3-star Baton Rouge safety Dorian Camel. One of the fastest prospects in the state, Camel has been in contact with Raymond and is teammates with LSU commit Kelvin Joseph. An offer and possible addition of Camel — who holds offers from Missouri, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Arkansas, among others — could not only add speed to LSU’s secondary but further bolster the team’s chances of holding onto Joseph through signing day.
Perhaps LSU will also check in on 3-star Florida State commit Israel Mukuamu, who camped at LSU in early June. He’s teammates with priority 5-star wide receiver target Terrace Marshall Jr. and 4-star quarterback target Justin Rogers and impressed Raymond over the summer. He is also a candidate for an offer later in the fall.
LSU could also elect to settle on three defensive backs in 2018. Remember, the team reeled in five in last year’s signing class, including 5-star safety JaCoby Stevens, 4-star safety Grant Delpit, 4-star safety Todd Harris, 4-star corner Kary Vincent and 3-star corner Jontre Kirklin. That’s two safeties, two corners and an athlete in Stevens, who will likely move bac to the secondary next spring.
If LSU can reel in Kelvin Joseph and Washington, then add one of Surtain, Cook, Taylor-Stuart or Foucha in February, that would give Raymond a palpable trio in 2018. It would also open the door for a bigger haul in 2019.
LSU holds a commitment from 4-star Memphis defensive back Maurice Hampton. While he is listed as a corner, sources in the LSU building believe that the two-sport athlete could play either cornerback or safety in the secondary.
The Tigers will look to bolster their defensive back groups with one-time commit Derek Stingley Jr. — a top-10 corner in the 2019 class — and Devin Bush — another elite corner that Raymond is very high on after seeing him perform well at camps each of the past two summers. LSU also made an offer to California cornerback Chris Steele, who is planning to visit Baton Rouge for the first time in the fall; Bobby Wolfe, a budding corner from Houston who camped at LSU in June and recently de-committed from Ole Miss; and Max Williams, who received early interest from Raymond in the springtime.
If LSU’s 2018 class is short in numbers, it will certainly make up for it in quality. Either way, the 2019 haul should be equally as impressive in both categories.