Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman. In this edition, we discuss the ones that got away from LSU throughout the 2018 recruiting cycle, including the major misses on National Signing Day.
LSU’s biggest misses in the 2018 class
The 2018 recruiting cycle has come and gone. LSU signed 23 players, including a handful of blue-chip wide receivers, offensive and defensive linemen and one key in-state defensive back. Ed Orgeron also came up short on a few priority targets in December and again as National Signing Day arrived.
Which targets and former commitments will LSU regret losing out on the most? We delve into all of the names that were connected to the Tigers over the past year, where they ultimately signed and why those misses hurt the Tigers.
Patrick Surtain Jr., 5-star CB, Alabama signee
Patrick Surtain was always LSU’s Plan A for the cornerback position in 2018. What stings the most is that the 5-star prospect selected LSU’s archrival and did so just before midnight on Signing Day eve.
Surtain was a plug-and-play player for defensive backs coach Corey Raymond, who would have used him opposite Greedy Williams as a freshman. Instead, that left the Tigers with only four scholarship cornerbacks in addition to an uncertain future regarding former 5-star prospect Kristian Fulton. Kelvin Joseph, LSU’s lone defensive back signee, will now shift from nickel safety out to cornerback in place of Surtain.
Adam Anderson, 5-star DE/OLB, Georgia signee
Remember Adam Anderson? The 5-star edge rusher was one of three Rome (Ga.) High School prospects to commit to Orgeron ahead of the LSU spring game. The trio of Anderson, Jamarcus Chatman and Ja’Quon Griffin wound up signing with Georgia, Florida State and Georgia Tech, respectively.
LSU did well to sign three projected edge rushers in Jarell Cherry, Travez Moore and Dantrieze Scott. Cherry is a top-200 prospect; Moore was the top junior college edge rusher and Scott was one of the most productive players in Louisiana for 2018. However, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Anderson possessed many of the same physical traits as Arden Key, LSU’s marquee Bench-linebacker who has since declared for the NFL draft.
Justin Rogers, 4-star QB, TCU
Quarterback is always a polarizing position for LSU, and the team failed to sign one in this class. Early in the cycle, the staff dialed in on Justin Rogers, the top in-state passer and the No. 3-ranked dual-threat prospect in the country.
Rogers picked TCU over LSU in May, and while he flirted with the Tigers at times, remained solid to his commitment and signed with the Horned Frogs in December. At the time, Matt Canada was LSU’s offensive coordinator, but things could have wound up differently if Steve Ensminger had that title during Rogers’ recruitment.
To miss on not only one of the nation’s top quarterback prospects, but one inside the state, stings. Rogers’ career in Fort Worth will always be compared to the quarterback situation in Baton Rouge.
James Foster, 4-star QB, Texas A&M signee
Once LSU missed on Rogers, the staff shifted its attention to James Foster, a top-300 prospect from Montgomery, Ala., who brought an LSU cap to the table on National Signing Day. He picked SEC West rival Texas A&M over the Tigers, meaning a matchup with the priority target is imminent in the next few years.
LSU did not sign a quarterback in 2018, which is always a cause for concern. It only adds to the drama that Foster will remain in the division. It also puts pressure on Orgeron and his staff to find not one, but two quarterbacks for the Class of 2019.
Ar’Darius Washington, 3-star DB, TCU signee
Ar’Darius Washington was committed to LSU for nearly a year before signing his national letter of intent with TCU on Signing Day. The defensive back does not bring the fireworks of a Patrick Surtain Jr. or a Mario Goodrich III, LSU’s top defensive back targets in 2018, but was one of Louisiana’s most productive players throughout his high school career at Evangel Academy in Shreveport.
Washington amassed 25-plus interceptions as a four-year starter and was recruited by Ensminger, now the team’s play caller. After missing on Surtan and Goodrich, and signing only Joseph and moving him out to corner, the addition of Washington would have helped, even if it was just for depth purposes.
Michael Williams, 3-star ATH, Texas signee
Michael Williams was a longtime LSU lean, but room in the Tigers’ 2018 class grew tight as the early signing period approached. Williams could not commit, then, and wound up making visits to Tennessee and Texas before settling on the Longhorns in mid-January.
Making a college decision was long and arduous for the 3-star athlete, so once Williams picked Texas he was happy to put an exclamation point on the whole process. With LSU taking only 23 players and failing to scoop up the Baton Rouge native, his absence in Baton Rouge and success in Austin will always be something worth comparing.
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