In a matter of days, LSU has added two more offensive weapons to its 2017 recruiting class that — truth be told — we could not see coming.
Mannie Netherly and Jhamon Ausbon, 4-star wide receivers from Texas and Florida, respectively, committed to the Tigers as the Nos. 13 and 14 pieces of the current class, representing the latest elite talents to land with the team since the arrival of assistant coach Dameyune Craig.
The former Auburn quarterback left his alma mater soon after National Signing Day to replace Tony Ball as LSU’s wide receivers coach. It was an opportunity to coach under Les Miles for a championship contender as early as 2016.
What went under the radar was the fact that LSU landed yet another ace recruiter.
Craig joined a coaching staff with names like Ed Orgeron and Corey Raymond, but the newest addition to the Tigers has — as he so eloquently puts it — made it reign.
In the last month, LSU has landed commitments from three of the nation’s premier wide receiver talents, and did so by overcoming significant odds. While it’s impressive in itself that the Tigers landed three blue-chip receivers, doing so in spite of the lead its rivals had on each prospect is a metaphorical cherry on top.
During the Bayou Picnic, Craig helped lure Stephen Guidry to Baton Rouge, La., where he committed despite naming SEC West rival Alabama his leading school earlier that same week. It kept the gifted wideout in The Boot over a bevy of other SEC powers.
Netherly pledged to LSU on Friday night after including the Tigers in his top six earlier this month. The 4-star prospect from Crosby (Texas) High School seemingly was a Texas A&M lean despite de-committing from the Aggies in the spring amid a Twitter scuffle with receivers coach Aaron Moorehead. Netherly had not visited LSU’s campus since that point in time, only stopping by the team’s satellite camp in Houston in between unofficial visits to Alabama and Texas A&M. However, that didn’t stop the nation’s No. 29-rated receiver from finalizing a decision to commit to LSU days after a private meeting with Craig.
While in Houston, LSU’s wide receivers coach also had an opportunity to work out with Ausbon 1-on-1. Like Netherly, that led to a pledge just a few days later. The IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) product included LSU in his top four earlier in June along with Texas A&M, Auburn and Michigan, though he narrowed his options down to the Aggies and Tigers later on in the month.
Sources close to the situation believed the 4-star talent would follow his friend and teammate Kellen Mond, who was deciding between Auburn and A&M, which meant the Aggies were the team to beat for the elite Texas native. Yet like Craig did with Guidry, Netherly and again with Ausbon, he played his hand perfectly. In the matter of one month, LSU has bolstered its recruiting class with a trio of the nation’s top wide receivers, pushing its class to the No. 5 overall spot a little less than a month away from another crucial recruiting venture at the elite prospect camp.
With Guidry, Netherly and Ausbon embedded in the class, Craig’s work may be done as far as receivers go in 2017. Names such as Racey McMath and Jeremiah Holloman will appear, but the current trio of commits might be it.
The exception could be 5-star receiver Devonta Smith, who since Day 1 has been Craig’s top priority. The in-state talent has grown fond of LSU since the spring and into the summer, and it’s not a coincidence the Tigers bolstered their chances by adding Craig to their staff. If Craig could somehow manage to follow suit with Smith, the team would make an exception for a fourth receiver.
☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️#purplereign2017 when it reign it pours!
— Dameyune Craig (@CoachDCraig) June 26, 2016
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.