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 leader of LSU’s 2019 recruiting class, 5-star lineman Kardell Thomas, who says the Tigers’ haul eventually will lift the team into the national championship conversation.
Kardell Thomas breaks down LSU’s class
BATON ROUGE, La. — With 10 verbal commitments already on board and one-third of the 2019 class in place, LSU’s recruiting class sits No. 12 in the country and No. 5 in the SEC, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
After the additions of graduate transfer quarterback Joe Burrow and cornerback Terrence Alexander, coach Ed Orgeron can take as many as 25 prospects in this cycle. There undoubtedly are plenty of big fish remaining on the Tigers’ board.
Kardell Thomas remains the highest-rated commit in LSU’s class and the anointed leader of the pack. The 5-star guard put a bow on his recruitment and officially shut it down in January following the team’s elite junior day and began recruiting members of the class himself. Heading into the summer, the Baton Rouge product is eyeing some new dominoes to fall into place over the summer and is pleased with the progress of the recruiting class thus far, particularly at his own position group.
“I feel it’s good,” Thomas told SEC Country after his high school spring game on Friday. “We need offensive linemen and we have a lot of good linemen coming in — Thomas [Perry], Anthony [Bradford] and Charles [Turner]. It’s probably the best group in the nation in my opinion. Overall, we’ll keep it going. We’ve got Marcel [Brooks]. I think Donte’ [Starks] is going to commit. Hopefully, we can get Chris [Steele], and Derek [Stingley Jr.] could re-commit. I’m working on it, and it’s going to be a good class.”
The Tigers have locked in four commitments from offensive linemen. Bradford, a 4-star tackle from Michigan, is the most recent prospect to join the group, following Turner, a 3-star center, who committed earlier in the spring.
LSU likely will add another tackle between now and National Signing Day with 5-star Kenyon Green and 4-star Ray Parker sitting atop the board. Thomas is a fan of the blueprint that first-year offensive line coach James Cregg is implementing.
“Coach Cregg is building an amazing brand of linemen,” Thomas raved. “For me going to practice every day, I’ve seen them improve. They developed in ways their coaches have taught them, but with Coach Cregg coming in, those guys have gotten really good in a short amount of time. That shows how good he really is.”
Thomas shut down his recruitment following the inaugural elite junior day at LSU, in which Orgeron hosted the state’s top prospects who either were committed or held offers. That exclusive group was comprised of Thomas, Stingley, Starks, Perry, Tyrion Davis, Joe Evans, Noah Cain, Devin Bush, Ishmael Sopsher, Devonta Lee, Trey Palmer and Parker.
Those priority targets and several other elite options across the country remain on Thomas’ personal wish list, as well as a quarterback.
“Chris Steele, Evan Neal, Derek and Noah,” Thomas named as far the prospects he’s courting. “On the defensive side of the ball, a good linebacker group is ready to leave. Safety is a need because Grant [Delpit] will be a junior when we get out there. Greedy [Williams] will be gone, so we need help on the defensive side of the ball. On the offensive side, we’re great.
“Hopefully, we can get a dual-threat [quarterback]. A pocket passer is good, but the game is evolving. If you look at the national championship, Jake Fromm can run. You can’t just sit in the pocket or you’ll get torn up in the SEC. We need a dual-threat in my opinion.”
The deep group of blue-chip prospects in Louisiana for 2019 long has been viewed as a crucial opportunity for Orgeron to bring in a highly ranked class come February. Thomas shares that same public opinion.
The 5-star lineman said he sees LSU’s haul as a potential No. 1-ranked class. Rankings aside, Thomas said he believes it’s the group that will change the course of LSU’s football program.
“The ceiling is a national championship,” he stated. “We’re going to get it as a class. If we get all of the guys we’re going to get, we’ll be No. 1 in America. We’re going to beat the ‘Bamas and Mississippi States, the teams that have been beating us the last few years. We’re going to be great.”
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