AMITE CITY, La. — First-year LSU wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig has made a habit out of driving from Baton Rouge to Tangipahoa Parish.
Craig has prioritized building a relationship with Louisiana’s top wide receiver in the Class of 2017, Devonta Smith, of Amite (La.) High School. Check that off for one of the Tigers’ newest assistant coaches, as the 4-star prospect has named LSU one of his three finalists as we enter the fall.
In the process of making those visits, Craig has also developed quite an interest in one of Smith’s teammates. Devonta Lee, a 5-star wide receiver in the Class of 2019, has caught the attention of LSU’s wide receiver.
Lee, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound sophomore, is rated as Louisiana’s No. 2 prospect in the 2019 class, behind only teammate and fellow 5-star recruit Ishmael Sopsher. He’s ranked as the No. 4 wide receiver in the entire class.
Lee was sidelined with a fractured toe for part of the spring and summer, so he was unable to play in Amite’s spring game in May, with Craig and area recruiter Ed Orgeron closely watching. That injury also kept Lee away from LSU’s prospect camps in both June and July, where he was expected to land an offer from the in-state power.
Nonetheless, the sophomore wide receiver that some coaches on Amite’s staff believe has an even higher ceiling than his teammate, Smith, remains anxious to earn an offer from LSU. Lee already holds marquee offers from Miami, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Arkansas, but is wildly intrigued by the idea of playing for Craig down the line.
“Coach Craig keeps telling me that he’s ready to see me work, but I’ve been injured,” Lee told SEC Country. “I’ve got to work on some things like being more explosive, working on my cuts. LSU likes me. It fits me. It’s a good school, too, and I like their offense. He (Craig) always looks out for his wide receivers. He told me to keep working, to get that foot healthy, to keep grinding and don’t stop the grind.”
LSU holds three commitments for its 2019 recruiting class, but no wide receivers thus far. 5-star cornerback Maurice Hampton headlines the class along with a pair of 4-star Louisiana prospects in defensive back Derek Stingley Jr. and offensive lineman Kardell Thomas.
At LSU’s June prospect camp, we caught a glimpse of Craig’s top receivers he’d like to add. The team extended an overture to 4-star Kentwood (La.) product Trey Palmer, who is already very high on the in-state team, and the coaching staff paid close attention to 5-star Georgia wideout Jadon Haselwood, who left Baton Rouge with a very high opinion of LSU.
Though Lee has yet to procure an offer from LSU, it seems inevitable at this point. The most likely scenario is that it will come next summer when he participates in a prospect camp as a rising junior.
Between Smith, Sopsher and Lee, expect the LSU coaches, most notably Craig and Orgeron, to frequent Amite on Friday nights this fall. Lee will instantly vault to the top of Craig’s wish list for the 2019 class and could be one of several blue-chip prospects from the area to wind up at LSU.
4-star WR commit Mannie Netherly sets up official visit
Mannie Netherly is going to be a mainstay in Baton Rouge the next weekends. LSU’s 4-star wide receiver commit plans on making the trek from Crosby, Texas this Saturday for the Tigers’ home opener against Jacksonville State. He’ll return on Sept. 17 for his official visit, he told SEC Country.
This weekend’s visit will be of the unofficial variety as he prepares to take in his first LSU game along with his family.
Next week, Netherly will be making his first official visit. He has only scheduled one thus far.
Netherly, a 6-foot-2, 183-pound wide receiver from the Lone Star State, has only ever been to home games at Texas and Texas A&M, where he was previously committed. The No. 32 wide receiver in the Class of 2017 is expected to schedule official visits elsewhere as well. Both Texas and Texas A&M are among likely candidates, even if none are penciled in as of now.
Several 2018 offers dished out
LSU was very busy in the Sunshine State this week handing out offers to some of the most notable prospects in next year’s recruiting class.
Perhaps the headline is 4-star Florida wide receiver Brian Hightower, who is ranked as the No. 4 prospect at his position for 2018. Hightower is a standout at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) and is teammates with 4-star LSU commit Jhamon Ausbon, who responded to Hightower’s offer by asking if he wanted to follow him to the NFL.
Hightower is 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. He already boasts an offer sheet of more than 30 schools, but has been most closely linked to Clemson early on in the recruiting process.
The Tigers are looking at several of the nation’s top wide receivers in their 2018 class, including Hightower as well as 5-star Terrace Marshall Jr., 4-star Kenan Jones and 4-star Devonta Jason, among others.
— Brian Hightower (@longlivee14) September 7, 2016
Hightower wasn’t the only receiver to procure an offer. LSU also made an overture to 4-star California wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown. The 6-foot-1, 187-pounder from Mater Dei (Anaheim, Calif.) has been most closely connected with Notre Dame and nearby Southern Cal.
The more interesting thing to note is that St. Brown, who is rated as the No. 6 wide receiver in the 2018 class, boasts a different type of frame than some of the wide receivers LSU has extended offers to in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 recruiting cycles. In 2016, LSU hauled in Stephen Sullivan (6-foot-6, 235 pounds), Dee Anderson (6-foot-5, 202 pounds) and Drake Davis (6-foot-3, 216 pounds). LSU’s 2017 class features three other big-bodied receivers in Jhamon Ausbon (6-foot-3, 217 pounds), Stephen Guidry (6-foot-4, 190 pounds) and Mannie Netherly (6-foot-2, 183 pounds).
Some of the offers out to receivers in the 2018 cycle include Devonta Jason, Terrace Marshall Jr. and Kenan Jones, who are all 6-foot-3 or taller. That’s been the mold that the LSU coaches are targeting, but apparently, St. Brown’s tape was impressive enough to warrant an offer. It’s why he’s one of the most highly-rated junior athletes in the country.
— ASB (@amonra_stbrown) September 8, 2016
On the defensive side of the ball, LSU also offered 3-star Miami area linebacker Donovan Georges.
Georges, a 6-foot-1, 228-pounder, is rated as the No. 11 inside backer in the 2018 class. It’s worth noting that in-state and local power Miami is the team courting Georges the hardest, but he also attended Alabama’s last summer when he landed an offer and has garnered the attention from Michigan State this spring.
Depending on how many more linebackers LSU lands in its 2017 class, inside linebacker may be a bigger position of emphasis in 2018 with a need to pad its depth after the departures of seniors Kendell Beckwith and Duke Riley, and juniors Donnie Alexander and Devin Voorhies.
Blessed to be offered by ??LSU pic.twitter.com/JDXPg9EYd4
— 2️⃣G (@d_b0yisland) September 6, 2016
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tiger Stadium.