All of the LSU signees in the Class of 2016 are expected to report to campus during the first week of June, so let’s take one last look back before they begin summer workouts.
LSU finished with a top-three signing class for the second time in three years.
The Tigers’ 2016 signing class, which was rated as the No. 3 overall class in the nation according to 247Sports composites, could be the final piece of the puzzle in Baton Rouge, La., entering this season.
LSU returns a veteran-laden roster with some new talent on the way, which is why the team is a popular pick to capture an SEC championship.
Many of LSU’s 2016 signees could find themselves playing significant roles as early as fall camp, demonstrating the importance of the recruiting cycle — particularly this class — could be to the Tigers’ title hopes.
STARS OF THE CLASS
LSU’s 2016 signing class was loaded with blue-chip prospects, but two of the signature prospects embedded in the group committed to the Tigers within a two-week span leading up to National Signing Day.
Rashard Lawrence capped off an elite defensive line group. The five-star prospect out of Neville High School (Monroe, La.) committed to LSU over Ohio State because — as he put it — the Tigers were national championship contenders. The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder credited first-year defensive coordinator Dave Aranda for giving the Tigers a late edge in the race. Aranda should be proud of his work, as he landed a future star in the middle of his defensive line and the nation’s No. 5 prospect as his position to anchor his newly implemented 3-4 defense for years to come.
LSU is known as “DBU” for a reason, and Kristian Fulton could be the next elite cornerback to come through Death Valley. The five-star cornerback from Archbishop Rummel High School (Metairie, La.) waited until signing day to announce his decision to attend LSU over SEC rivals Florida and Arkansas. The 6-foot, 177-pounder was rated as the nation’s No. 2 cornerback and could find himself in LSU’s secondary rotation very early on this fall. The New Orleans native could carve out of a role behind incumbents Tre’Davious White, Kevin Toliver II, Donte Jackson and fellow true freshman Saivion Smith.
THREE WHO COULD PLAY RIGHT AWAY
It’s highly unlikely that Lawrence can earn a starting job on LSU’s veteran defensive front, but the five-star defensive tackle should crack the rotation soon after touching down in Baton Rouge, La.
Lawrence was recruited by Christian LaCouture to join the Tigers’ defensive line to create as stout of a defensive front as any team in the nation. LaCouture currently occupies the nose tackle position in between defensive ends Davon Godchaux and Lewis Neal.
LSU’s defensive line features a lot of familiar faces, but the secondary is getting somewhat of a makeover. Gone is Jalen Mills, leaving Jamal Adams and Rickey Jefferson to man the two safety spots.
Eric Monroe could push Jefferson quickly for playing time in the back end of the secondary, as the four-star Texan boasts the outstanding athleticism and coverage skills that would complement Adams’ game quite well.
Monroe may be joined by another true freshman in the defensive backfield. Saivion Smith made quite the impression on defensive backs coach Corey Raymond and Les Miles in the spring, as the Florida native was thrust into action.
With Toliver sidelined all spring and Jackson out part of the season due to academic issues, the four-star cornerback assumed more reps at cornerback and thrived in the role.
“He’s long, athletic and very capable there as well,” Miles said of Smith.
TWO BIGGEST SURPRISES
The LSU coaches were quickly running out of options at the quarterback position before making their push for Lindsey Scott Jr.
The three-star dual-threat quarterback and Louisiana’s reigning Mr. Football didn’t even pick up his offer from the in-state Tigers until Jan. 19, about two weeks before National Signing Day.
LSU quickly jumped to the forefront of Scott’s recruitment, as the 5-foot-11, 205-pounder was down to the Tigers and Maryland late in January.
Scott visited Maryland, Rutgers and then returned to Louisiana, where Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron were waiting in his house to speak with the prized quarterback. The Zachary (La.) High School product asked the coaches about the evolving offense and his role in it before ultimately taking his final official visit — to LSU — on the final weekend of January.
“It was great that the head guy (Miles) answered some of Lindsey’s questions and gave Lindsey an opportunity to ask some open-ended questions and let Les answer them for him,” Scott’s coach, David Brewerton, told SEC Country. “It went good. It needed to happen.”
The rapid recruitment of Scott culminated in a commitment the Sunday following his official visit to LSU. The in-state star, who won a Class 5A championship this past season, became LSU’s only quarterback signee in the 2016 class, replacing former commit Feleipe Franks and another highly sought-after target in Dwayne Haskins.
The addition of Scott in LSU’s class came days before signing day, but Lloyd Cushenberry’s commitment came precisely on Feb. 3.
The three-star offensive guard from Dutchtown High School (Geismar, La.) was committed to South Carolina, but flipped to LSU on National Signing Day.
The 6-foot-3, 310-pounder told SEC Country that LSU began to make its push the Sunday before signing day when the coaches extended an offer his way.
“Well, I didn’t keep any secrets, but I guess one might be probably when LSU offered me,” Cushenberry said. “The offer came in that Sunday before signing day.”
DOWN TO THE WIRE
LSU’s 2016 signing class will be represented in full, with one exception.
Three-star wide receiver Da’Monte Coxie is awaiting test results that should provide some clarity on his future in the coming days.
The 6-foot-3, 175-pounder from East St. John High School (Reserve, La.) told SEC Country that he remains fully committed to LSU, but will first have to attend junior college before arriving on campus.
“Everything is still the same,” Coxie said of his relationship with LSU. “Coach Cam (Cameron) keeps contacting me and stuff. I’m just ready to come in and make some plays and help our team win a (national championship).”
“It was a minor setback for a major comeback,” he added.
If all goes according to plan, Coxie will enroll at Copiah-Lincoln Community College (Wesson, Miss.).
Miles has not been shy on what he expects out of the 2016 signing class, and for good reason.
The nation’s No. 3 overall class is supposed to be the icing on the cake for a roster that should compete for both a conference and — perhaps — a national championship.
After LSU’s spring game in April, Miles inferred that the new pieces on the way to Baton Rouge, La., should lift the Tigers from a “good” team to an “elite” one.
“At this point, we’re a good football team with a great foundation,” Miles told SEC Country. “Now, to be an elite football team, we have to work hard this summer. … There needs to be a concerted effort as a mature team to step forward and say we want something special. To do that, we’ve got to be elite.”
LSU took a renewed approach to this year’s class, seeking out unique athletes at different positions, which should help the team restock and replenish all across the depth chart.
The team found a quarterback to fit the spread offense, three prized wide receivers, an athletic tight end, future stars along the offensive and defensive lines, pass-rushers and a slew of some of the nation’s top defensive backs.
This is the type of team that blends experience with ability. Expectations are high for LSU, and after a signing class like this, for good reason.
Here is a chart on the playing time of LSU’s freshmen.
|Name||No. of games played||No. of games started|
|Michael Divinity Jr.||9||0|
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tigers Stadium.