LSU’s pursuit of linebackers in its 2017 recruiting class will begin to take shape this weekend as the coaches prepare to host Oklahoma commit Jacob Phillips.
This, of course, will be an unofficial visit since the 4-star Tennessee linebacker has already taken his five allotted officials over the course of the fall.
However, sources close to the program suggest it will be as close to an official as possible. Of course, will be a pivotal weekend in deciding Phillips’ future.
Previously, SEC Country reported that Phillips was leaning 60-40 toward Oklahoma. LSU continues to garner momentum and has improved its odds heading into the visit, according to a source close to the linebacker.
“There’s something about Oklahoma that he loves. It’s a great program, and when Oklahoma comes calling it’s tough to tell them no,” the source said. “LSU is the same way. The coaching staff and the great results they show on defense is especially appealing to Jacob. How LSU can put guys at the next level … it’s about fit and where he feels comfortable. I know he thinks highly of LSU and it’s hard to tell LSU no. It’s a dead heat right now.”
How Phillips factors into the defensive blueprint for the 2017 season and beyond will be oft-discussed this weekend, as LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and primary recruiter Austin Thomas will all sit down with the 4-star recruit over the course of the visit.
Phillips will bring both his parents along, helping to pad LSU’s edge in comfort.
Phillips was originally scheduled to officially visit Baton Rouge on Oct. 1, but canceled those plans to head to Alabama instead. That was when Orgeron replaced Les Miles as the Tigers’ head coach, and such hurt LSU from a recruiting standpoint.
The Tigers’ pursuit of Phillips picked up when Orgeron took over as LSU’s full-time coach. Per a source, Orgeron told Thomas to “go get Jacob Phillips,” and the staff responded. Orgeron and Thomas went in-home with Phillips in Nashville during the December contact period, and Thomas returned to see Phillips at the start of the January contact period.
“It’s obvious that Coach O and his staff really coveted Jacob. Jacob felt it,” the source said. “They put in a lot of effort, showing him things about how he fit. I mean, they’ve written about Coach O and recruiting, and he’s going to do a great job. It’s hard to tell him no, especially when LSU is on his car. It’s a great SEC power, and it will be hard for kids like Jacob to tell Coach O no.”
Phillips, the No. 7-rated inside linebacker in the Class of 2017, shifted to the top of LSU’s linebacker board when Orgeron took over as head coach.
The onus is on Orgeron and his staff to make the flip happen on this visit.
Ahead of the trip, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops went in-home with Phillips on Monday night, but that has not swayed how LSU feels about its chances. Multiple sources on the staff remain confident in their ability to change the Army All-American’s mind when he’s in town.
Of course, he’ll be joined by solid LSU commit Patrick Queen and fellow blue-chip linebacker target Willie Gay. All three could entertain the opportunity to playing alongside each other during the trip.
“He wants to see how he fits,” the source reiterated. “He’ll have to compare what he knows about Oklahoma and if it’s better at LSU. Those are the questions he needs answered, and it’s about where Jacob feels more comfortable.”
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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