Cam Akers has been one of LSU’s top priorities since Jabbar Juluke has taken over as the Tigers’ running backs coach.
With a potential shuffle in the number of wide receivers, running backs and linebackers on the horizon, there is definitely room in the 2017 class for the 5-star Mississippi running back. Akers delivered promising news with his official visits falling in place.
The nation’s No. 2 running back was in Athens, Ga., for the drama-filled Georgia-Tennessee affair and will head to Alabama on Oct. 22 when the Tide host Texas A&M.
Akers is expected to officially visit LSU as well, and those plans have not changed since the team parted ways with Les Miles and promoted Ed Orgeron to interim head coach.
“Coach Ed Orgeron has always been someone I knew very well even with Les Miles there so it doesn’t change anything as far as recruiting,” Akers told The Clarion-Ledger.
“You don’t go to a school for a coach, in my opinion. You go because that’s where you want to be.”
The change in head coach does not seem to matter to the top uncommitted back. Akers will get a better feel for the program during his next visit to Baton Rouge, and it’s as encouraging a piece of information as LSU fans could hope for during this time of uncertainty.
‘Next up’ in LSU’s 2017 class
LSU has checked 19 boxes in the 2017 recruiting class with approximately eight more spots to fill out before National Signing Day.
Of course, with the majority of the class rounded into form, there are specific prospects and positions the Tigers’ staff is aiming to address during the fourth quarter of this recruiting cycle.
Here’s a brief overview of what positions LSU has taken care of thus far, as well as how we anticipate the final version of the ’17 class to look like.
Current LSU 2017 class (expected # of recruits at the position)
Quarterbacks: 2 of 2
Running backs: 2 of 3*
Wide receivers: 2 of 3
Tight ends: 0
Offensive linemen: 4 of 4
Defensive linemen: 4 of 6
Linebackers: 1 of 4
Cornerbacks: 2 of 2
Safety: 2 of 3
The * by the running backs category represents the ongoing pursuit of Akers, who is the clear-cut No. 1 priority for LSU at the position. Akers sits atop the LSU staff’s wish list for the 2017 class, as the Tigers would have a replacement for Leonard Fournette if and when he declares for the 2017 NFL Draft.
If the Tigers miss out on Akers to presumptive favorites such as Ole Miss, Florida State or Ohio State, the coaching staff will have to make the difficult decision of whether to target another running back or settle for the two-back haul of 3-star commit Clyde Edwards-Helaire and 3-star fullback Tory Carter.
If LSU can’t land Akers and does not pursue another running back, it could elect to add a third AND fourth wide receiver, tight, fifth offensive lineman or bulk up along the defensive front.
With notable targets still on the horizon, who are the “next up” recruits? In other words, who are the prospects on LSU’s wish list if the team loses a commitment down the final stretch of the cycle or it swings and misses on a priority target?
SEC Country examined those “next up” recruits for LSU’s current class and where the team might turn — and extend offers — later in the cycle.
Status: LSU holds commitments from 4-star dual-threat quarterback Lowell Narcisse and 3-star pro-style passer Myles Brennan. Both are explicitly solid in their pledges, and there isn’t much change expected between these two prospects.
Next up: Aldon Clark (3-star pro-style QB, New Orleans)
Rationale: Clark is arguably the most underrated and well-rounded quarterback in New Orleans in this class, and throws most of his balls to LSU’s top remaining wide receiver target Racey McMath. While observing McMath throughout the spring, former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron walked away wildly impressed with Clark. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is currently committed to Arkansas State, but should LSU lose either Narcisse or Brennan to a de-commitment, Clark is the obvious next choice.
Status: LSU holds a commitment from Edwards-Helaire, one of the first pledges in the 2017 class. LSU hopes to add Akers to the mix, but faces a bit of an uphill climb for the Magnolia State standout. If LSU is successful adding Akers, it could risk its status with Edwards-Helaire. If not, the Tigers could shift their attention to another prospect to add to their backfield or merely add another player to address a different need.
Next up: Travis Etienne (3-star RB, Jennings, La.)
Rationale: Etienne, a former Texas A&M commit, reopened his recruitment this summer soon after attending LSU’s elite prospect camp in July. Etienne was unable to land an offer after working out for Juluke, but drew attention from the Tigers running backs coach in the spring. Etienne returned to Baton Rouge for the Mississippi State tilt, and it would not be surprising for LSU to shift its attention to the in-state back later on this fall.
Status: LSU holds two commitments from some of the nation’s best wide receivers in 4-stars Jhamon Ausbon and Mannie Netherly. Due to the transfers of John Diarse, Trey Quinn and Tyron Johnson, not to mention the inevitable losses of Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural to the NFL, the staff would like to restock and reload. McMath sits atop LSU’s wish list right head of Alabama lean Devonta Smith and Georgia lean Jeremiah Holloman.
Next up: Justin Jefferson (WR, Destrehan, La.)
Rationale: It’s very likely LSU can bring McMath on board, but a very close second is Jefferson, the younger brother of former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson and current LSU safety Rickey Jefferson. The younger of the three brothers impressed during the July prospect camp and drew the eye of wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig. Jefferson also represents the next prospect to earn an offer should LSU lose one of its current commitments leading up to signing day. After losing out on Stephen Guidry earlier this week, LSU needs add at least one, maybe two more wide receivers in this cycle.
— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) September 24, 2016
Status: LSU doesn’t have a tight end in the ’17 class and very well could opt not to add one. Offers are out to some of the best in the country, including Texas A&M commit Camron Horry, Mississippi State commit Ravian Pierce and Florida commit Kemore Gamble, but none seem likely to flip at this point in time.
Next up: Justin Harris (3-star TE/DE, Gonzalez, La.)
Rationale: Harris impressed defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, now the interim head coach, and tight ends coach Steve Ensminger, now the offensive coordinator, during the July camp, then spent time chatting with former coach Les Miles afterward. A Central Florida commit, Harris remains on LSU’s radar and could draw an offer late should LSU realize a need at tight end. Because LSU reeled in 4-star player Jamal Pettigrew in 2016 and shifted Caleb Roddy to tight end this fall, it may not be a position of need for this class.
Status: LSU holds four offensive line commits, all of whom are extremely solid in the class. Austin Deculus headlines the group along with Saahdiq Charles, Edward Ingram and Seth Stewart. LSU lost steam with tackle target Adrian Ealy, but would make room for the 4-star Louisiana tackle. A four-linemen haul is the ideal number line coach Jeff Grimes was looking for in 2017.
Next up: Ethan Harvey (3-star OL, Shreveport, La.)
Rationale: Harvey has been on LSU’s campus a few times and has the attention of most in-state programs. The Tigers will need to replace a bevy of seniors after this season, most notably center Ethan Pocic and guard Josh Boutte. Two tackles and two interior linemen are the goals. LSU certainly would shift its attention to Harvey, one of the toughest guards in the state, if it were to lose a commitment down the stretch.
Status: With four defensive linemen committed, LSU is on the prowl to add two more by Feb. 1. Marvin Wilson, Isaiah Buggs and Phidarian Mathis are the names you’ll hear among targets the most, but throw Markaviest Bryant in that group, too. It’s also worth noting that Florida State continues to court 3-star commit Neil Farrell and Alabama is doing the same with Justin Thomas.
Next up: Bryan Jones (3-star DE, Baton Rouge, La.)
Rationale: At the start of the recruiting cycle, Jones seemed destined to land in LSU’s class. However, the Ole Miss pledge is a unique case in which he’s the ideal fit for the Tigers’ 4-3 front, but a bit of a tweener for the 3-4. Nonetheless, Jones has managed to pile up nearly 40 offers while continuing to garner attention from Orgeron and Cameron. Jones attended LSU’s June prospect camp and impressed the coaches with his 40 times. He committed to the Rebels in May and is firmly entrenched in the class — though an offer from the in-state power certainly could shake up his recruitment. Depending on how LSU’s pursuit of Wilson, Buggs, Mathis and Bryant goes, as well as the potential for de-commitments, Jones remains firmly on the team’s radar.
Status: Patrick Queen is the lone linebacker commit in LSU’s class, which should feature upward of four by National Signing Day. Christopher Allen, Will Ignont, Levi Jones and K’Lavon Chaisson are the noted top targets for the Tigers, and LSU remains in good standing with many of them. With Dave Aranda directing the defense, the 2017 class needs to feature the right personnel to fit his scheme. That includes players like Queen, who are versatile and can play multiple positions.
Next up: Chris Turner (3-star OLB, Hammond, La.)
Rationale: This was a toss-up between Turner and Baker (La.) outside linebacker Cameron Heil. Turner attended LSU’s satellite camp in New Orleans, then participated in the June prospect camp. Turner nearly procured an offer from the LSU staff and remains on Aranda’s and Orgeron’s radar. The Hammond (La.) High School product plays both standup linebacker and defensive end, and has drawn offers from numerous SEC rivals. Should LSU get discouraging news on some of the Texas linebackers, Moses or Allen, it’s highly likely Turner could earn an offer.
Status: LSU’s defensive back haul is nearly complete. The team holds commitments from 4-star Texas cornerback Kary Vincent Jr. and 3-star Louisiana athlete Jontre Kirklin, who also will play corner. JaCoby Stevens and Grant Delpit are the two committed safeties, and the top remaining secondary target is 4-star talent Todd Harris. A pledge from Harris — which is still likely — would seal up the class. LSU wants to take three safeties to help replace Jamal Adams and Rickey Jefferson and replenish its defensive backfield.
Next up: Amik Robertson (3-star DB, Thibodaux, La.)
Rationale: Robertson put on a show during the July prospect camp, going toe to toe with the aforementioned Jefferson. The Louisiana Tech commit has dreamed of playing for the Tigers and has even drawn comparisons to former LSU great Tyrann Mathieu. Robertson doesn’t boast great size but has excellent speed, energy and coverage ability. Defensive backs coach Corey Raymond is a huge fan and envisions Robertson playing a Mathieu-like role for LSU as a hybrid nickel-safety. If LSU cannot land Harris in this class, an offer to Robertson is the likely next step. It also could increase its efforts with Tennessee commit Cheyenne Labruzza or Vanderbilt commit Adam Sparks.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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