BATON ROUGE, La. — On the first day of the first early signing period, LSU coach Ed Orgeron had plenty to talk about.
LSU received signed letters of intent from 18 high school, junior college and graduate transfer players Wednesday. 4-star prospects such as linebacker Micah Baskerville, edge rusher Travez Moore and defensive tackles Chasen Hines and Davin Cotton headlined the day, as did the top junior college offensive tackle in the nation Badara Traore.
On top of this, LSU had another Citrus Bowl practice Wednesday afternoon, one which projected first round picks Derrius Guice and Arden Key were absent from, as were starting cornerback Kevin Toliver and outside linebacker Ray Thornton.
Orgeron talked about the chunk of the signing class LSU got Wednesday, as well as the state of his team’s bowl preparation. SEC Country was on hand to type Orgeron’s words as he said them. The following is an abridged transcript of Orgeron’s statements.
What LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Wednesday:
- We’ve had some tremendous practices for the bowl. Great preparation. Obviously it was a little different time schedule for the coaches. I’m proud of the coaches putting together a game plan and going out on the road recruiting and putting together a game plan for our guys to practice very well.
- A couple of things: Arden Key, Corey Thompson and Donnie Alexander are out with injuries and will not play in the bowl. Cameron Gamble is ineligible and will not play in the bowl.
- We signed close to 20 guys. We expect to sign 21 in the next couple of days. Obviously our coaching staff worked very hard. I think the transition from Jeff Grimes to James Cregg went smoothly. We signed all our offensive linemen. I want to compliment coach Grimes. He got a better job. But he was also heavily involved with all these linemen and went out with a first-class deal. That was a critical part of our recruiting.
- We’ve got some guys we are targeting left that will have to fill specific needs. I think a couple of guys I want to talk about from this afternoon was Damone Clark, a guy we target who committed to us two years ago. He’s played in Baton Rouge. A great man with a great family. Just glad he’s a Tiger. Another person I didn’t mention this afternoon is Cole Smith. Cole was the No. 1 center ranked in America. We were the first ones to offer him in America. He’s a great player, tremendous feet and hips. We’re glad Cole is a Tiger.
- Other than that we’re excited about our recruiting class. We know what they can do and their potential. Obviously Louisiana first. We’re excited we signed six guys from North Louisiana. Another good year in Texas. We’re going to continue recruiting the surrounding states.
- You always have a backup. Coach Cregg was always our backup if Coach Grimes left. I thought it worked smooth. But it shows coach Grimes’ character. He continued to recruit the guys as long as he could. I was worried, obviously. But when you see coach Cregg’s resume, it speaks for itself. The recruits immediately liked him. Knowing that me and him worked together for years, that helped.
- It’s different. Here’s how I look at things. I was against it. I’m sure many coaches were against it. I think it’s unfair in a lot of ways. But it’s the rule. So we have to take advantage of it. I think we had a good plan and it executed very well. We could’ve signed three or four more guys. But we didn’t do that. Those guys are key guys to our class.
- The guys that we got: Dare Rosenthal is a guy we’ve been trying to recruit for four years. Davin Cotton is a difference maker. We’ve got big guys that other SEC teams wanted, but we got them. We’re pleased with the front 7. We’re pleased with our signing of the linebackers. We think we signed two outstanding linebackers and four outstanding inside linebackers.
- We are going to sign another running back. Maybe two more. We need playmakers. I feel good about our recruiting process at that position.
- Signing six guys from North Louisiana, perhaps seven, was a huge get for us. Baton Rouge we targeted some guys that are really good. There are some guys left in New Orleans that are going to sign in February. We feel we’ve done a very good job in Louisiana.
- Grimes found Traore. He’s a guy we needed. There’s a tremendous time I had up there because 20 years ago I was at Syracuse. There was a guy I coached at Syracuse. The day I went there was kind of like a reunion. We had some tremendous connection. But coach Grimes was the one who made the relationship with Badara. I went to Boston to meet with his parents. Tremendous people. Our availability for those guys to come in, he’s going to be a mid-year graduate. We’re signing eight or nine mid-year graduates.
- Rankings are good. That’s all good for some teams. I’ve got guys who were 2-stars named Patrick Willis, Dexter McCluster. Some guys are bigger, some guys are smaller. It all works out.
- Arden’s been battling some injuries. He is not going to be able to practice. If he can’t practice, he won’t play. That decision kind of came down today. I know he tried. He hasn’t talked about his future decision.
- Davin Cotton can be very elite. He’s quick. Davin has an advantage because he played for Byron Dawson, who played for Pete Jenkins here. Davin is a mild-mannered young man off the field, but he plays with intensity. I think he’s going to be a dominant lineman.
- I talked to Derrius today. He’s nursing an injury. I don’t expect him to practice this week. He’ll practice next week. I expect him to play in the bowl.
- Quarterback: That’s a possibility. There’s a possibility we do sign a quarterback. We’ll have to see. These next spots will be by need basis. There’ll be some tough decisions to be made. I always feel we need a quarterback.
- You need character when you lose at LSU to Troy. You need guys that are going to listen, guys that are going to pull together. That showed the character and the leadership of this team. This is a galvanized football team. We always say we promote good character.