BATON ROUGE, La. — While the final score and final drive of Louisiana State’s tilt against Florida on Saturday may not reflect it, it was actually a successful recruiting weekend for the LSU football team.
The early kickoff did not stop a bevy of blue-chip recruits from crowding into Tiger Stadium for the final home game of the season and a final recruiting weekend before a head coaching decision is finalized.
Marquee recruits including Marvin Wilson, Austin Deculus, Phidarian Mathis, Isaiah Buggs, Brandon Martin, Monty Rice, Patrick Queen, Todd Harris, Myles Brennan, Chase Rogers and Jontre Kirklin, as well as prospects committed elsewhere: Cheyenne Labruzza (Tennessee), Justin Harris (Central Florida) and Adam Sparks (Vanderbilt), who were all on hand for the riveting finish.
Two of those visitors carry significant weight down the stretch of LSU’s recruiting cycle.
Wilson, the No. 4 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, made his first trip to Baton Rouge this fall. He brought his brother and received the full-court press from the LSU recruiting staff from the moment he stepped on campus until the time he departed back to Texas.
The 5-star defensive tackle is being recruited by interim head coach Ed Orgeron and has been to LSU several times since last spring. Some of visits have been nonpublicized, according to a source close to Wilson. In his return on Saturday, it was yet another successful trip to Death Valley.
Orgeron has consistently recruited Wilson and, more importantly, his entire family. He visited Wilson in Texas on Halloween weekend and had pushed for the defensive tackle to come to LSU for a game ever since. He was supposed to come for the Alabama game on Nov. 5, but travel plans were nixed after teammate, 5-star offensive lineman Walker Little, could not make the trip.
Back on campus on Saturday was certainly a major step forward for LSU’s chances. The Tigers must contend with Texas, Texas A&M and Florida State, but obviously, it’s worth noting that Wilson will wait to see how the coaching carousel plays out. All four of those programs could have new coaches in place in December, which means Wilson is keeping an eye on each program and what direction it heads next.
Nonetheless, it’s worth noting Orgeron is a key piece here, whether it’s as LSU’s head coach or defensive line coach. Orgeron is recruiting Wilson’s family, most notably his brother, who visited this weekend for the Florida game. They had a great time and love LSU, per the source.
The other visitor of note was 4-star offensive tackle commit Deculus, who has wavered on his commitment in recent weeks. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Texan made his first trip to LSU since attending the Mississippi State game in September.
Of course, Deculus was very close to former coach Les Miles but opted to exercise patience with the head coaching situation to avoid making a rash decision. That was key, as other programs have tried to intercede with the offensive tackle, who has held firm in his pledge and seemingly reaffirmed it with a visit during the weekend.
Deculus’ return to Baton Rouge was very successful and may have just secured his spot in LSU’s 2017 haul. He’s set to graduate next month and enroll early in January, so it was a critical visit to reassure his stance before it’s finalized in a matter of weeks. The visit reminded Deculus of the atmosphere in Death Valley and what kind of venue he’ll be playing in for the next few years. Deculus represents a major need in the Tigers’ class, as the team covets true tackles to bolster its offensive line.
Myles Brennan, 4-star QB (LSU commit): “It was awesome! It’s always a great time in Baton Rouge, much less Death Valley!”
Brandon Martin, 4-star WR: “It went well. It was a great environment and I love the place. I spent some time with him (LSU wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig). He was just basically saying that he definitely wants me back over there and that he’s going to talk to coach O about it.”
Patrick Queen, 4-star LB (LSU commit): “Besides freezing the whole time, it was great. It was a good game, really a defensive game. The offense had chances to score but failed sometimes, and I guess that’s what made the difference. But they still fought until the end like Tigers.”
Todd Harris, 4-star S: “The offense looked shaky, again. They honestly need a new offensive coordinator … LSU could keep coach O and hire a new OC (offensive coordinator).”
Phidarian Mathis, 4-star DL: “It was great. The game was great. I had a brilliant time out with my teammates. It was a big atmosphere, especially when the game was on the line. After that, I had a chance to talk with coach O. He was talking about the same thing, just trying to get me on his team.”
Isaiah Buggs, 4-star DL: “I really enjoyed the game yesterday.”
Cheyenne Labruzza, 3-star CB (Tennessee commit): “I had planned to make another (visit) to catch a game, and it was a great game to come and see. The visit was great. It felt like magic in Tiger Stadium. I just felt something I’ve never felt before and I’ve been there quite a few times.”
Adam Sparks: 3-star CB (Vanderbilt commit): “I thought they were going to pull it out at the end!”
Justin Harris, 3-star DE (UCF commit): “It went well. I wish they would’ve won. I knew that on the last play, some team was going to be hurt and I didn’t want it to be LSU. It was just one yard!”
Chase Rogers, 3-star TE: “I talked to coach (Steve) Ensminger after the game and he said, ‘You’ll be hearing from me soon,’ so keep LSU as one of your options. … It adds LSU into my top schools.”
Here’s a photo gallery of which prospects were on hand for the LSU-Florida game:
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
Follow Sam Spiegelman for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tiger Stadium.