BEAVERTON, Ore. — The Opening Finals wrapped up on Monday from Nike world headquarters, and Day 5 featured all of the invited recruits, including the offensive and defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs.
Among those gathered in the Pacific Northwest for the largest annual recruiting showcase in the country are a bevy of LSU recruiting targets.
Here is what I learned from Day 5:
Monday was supposed to be the day in which 4-star LSU wide receivers target Ja’Marr Chase decided between the Tigers and TCU. That never transpired.
Chase, who originally aimed to commit on July 2, his recently deceased grandmother’s birthday, pushed his announcement back a day to Monday so that the NFL Network cameras could live broadcast the event. However, as 4:35 p.m. PT approached, the cameras filmed Greg Emerson’s spontaneous commitment to Tennessee and eventually ran out of time for Chase’s TV spot.
Chase did not commit and likely won’t until later this week or next week. He wants to reconvene with his family in Louisiana and come to a decision together.
As the announcement neared, TCU emerged as a popular choice for Louisiana’s No. 2 wide receiver. Chase hinted that LSU was out in front after visiting Baton Rouge last Thursday for prospect camp and having a sit down with the coaches about his role in the offense. However, that was just the public perception.
Chase is still not over LSU’s late offer or Les Miles’ decision to work him out as a defensive back during last July’s elite high school camp. TCU has been out in front for a good portion of his recruitment and may have been more ahead of the Tigers than Chase cared to let on.
With that said, LSU is not going to throw in the towel on Chase. The team intends on reeling in at least four and up to five receivers in 2018. That means two or three to pair with Jaray Jenkins and Kenan Jones. Chase and 5-star Terrace Marshall Jr. are two names to monitor, even if Chase gives an early commitment to TCU. LSU will continue to recruit him. Other names to know are Jalen Preston, Lawrence Keys III, Kamryn Babb and Miles Battle.
LSU set to bring in elite group of DBs
LSU has a trio of defensive back commitments in its 2018 class, and whether the group will add one or two more prospects at the position, it’s likely that it ends up to be an elite collection of talent.
Kelvin Joseph had an up-and-down offseason in the 7-on-7 circuit but has put together a very impressive summer thus far. The longest-tenured LSU commitment in the class showed a lot of good flashes at camp in June and followed that up with a dominant outing in Oregon last weekend. Joseph, 6-1, 185, boasts tremendous athleticism and stood out at corner despite some whispers he could be heading toward safety when he arrives at LSU. Joseph was at his best with the spotlight on. He maintained his focus and his play reflected as much.
Patrick Surtain Jr. was in and out of the lineup during the 7-on-7 tournament but turned in a spectacular performance when he was on the field. The nation’s No. 1 corner is as technically sound a prospect as there has been at his position in several years, and at 6-2, 190, he looks the part of a college player already. Surtain maintained that LSU is his No. 1 school and will return to Baton Rouge in a matter of days. He is looking to check off a couple more of his boxes as he nears a decision sometime this fall. LSU remains the team to beat.
Another 5-star corner that is suddenly being linked to the Tigers is Anthony Cook. The Houston product was dominant during the first day of 1-on-1s and had some moments throughout the 7-on-7 tournament. While he maintains a calm, cool demeanor, Cook showed that he’s a bulldog when eyes are on him. Cook has been in touch with [defensive backs coach] Corey Raymond daily since making his inaugural visit to LSU for the spring game. The Tigers are in the mix for the top-10 prospect more than the public realizes. Ohio State and Clemson are surefire bets to round out Cook’s upcoming final three, but LSU is jockeying with Texas and Notre Dame for that final spot. If LSU does make that final grouping of teams, it would not be surprising to see Cook wind up in Baton Rouge.
Louisiana recruits shined in the Pacific Northwest
There were three LSU commitments and even more targets on hand for the 5-day event in Oregon. The Boot was well represented at The Opening Finals.
Joseph, Micah Baskerville and Nelson Jenkins headlined the LSU commitments. Remember that Georgia defensive end Adam Anderson earned the invite, but declined attendance. There were also several more Louisiana natives on hand, including 2019 running back John Emery Jr. and 2018 corner Corione Harris,
While Joseph was an overall top performer at The Opening, his defensive teammate Baskerville was also wildly impressive. As a middle linebacker who has tacked on muscle this offseason, Baskerville was absolutely stout in his pass coverage and made the case to warrant a fourth star.
Jenkins was limited in what he could do in linemen 1-on-1s. Louisiana rules prohibit players from wearing pads in the offseason, but Jenkins took a few reps and was deceptively quick. He lined up as a defensive tackle but may be more suited as an end in LSU’s three-man front.
Marshall was among the top wide receivers in attendance this week along with Babb, Justin Shorter, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Justyn Ross and likely could have distinguished himself as No. 1 if he did suffer an injury at the end of Sunday’s tournament. Marshall is living up to the hype and has made major strides as a receiver in a year’s time. He has a nose for the football and all the necessary physical skills, but what has stood out is his competitive fire to live up to the hype and be a go-to guy in clutch moments.
Emery was among the handful of rising junior prospects in Oregon and was an absolute marvel at running back. In the 7-on-7 setting, Emery showed off his ability to be an elite pass catcher and was absolutely explosive in space. The priority 2019 LSU target is far away from making a decision but possesses many of the same traits that Derrius Guice did in high school. LSU holds a commitment from 2019 running back Tyrion Davis, who is an aggressive downhill runner. Emery is more elusive and versatile, and could eventually be a fantastic complement to Davis for the Tigers.
Harris, a one-time LSU commitment and current Kansas verbal, was also one of the better cornerbacks on hand. Harris, 6-1, 170, is excellent in coverage, and did so just a few weeks removed from an appendectomy. Schools such as LSU, Mississippi State and Texas are all pursuing the 4-star cornerback, who has been one of the state’s top 2018 prospects for several years, and is continuing to remind the public of why.