LSU is in the process of assembling an all-star 2017 recruiting class — one that already features a bevy of blue-chip prospects and other notable targets that could ultimately wind up in the purple and gold.
The Tigers have also endured their fair share of misses, too. Some of the team’s top targets have already committed elsewhere, meaning it will be an arduous task trying to swing them back in LSU’s favor. But as is always the case with recruiting, anything can happen until those letters of intent are signed in February.
Here are three of the nation’s top prospects that LSU has a chance to flip before National Signing Day:
Cheyenne Labruzza, 3-star CB, Tennessee commit (Albany, La.)
LSU was the leader for Labruzza for much of the spring before the Louisiana native attended Tennessee’s spring game and committed on the spot. The 5-foot-11, 186-pounder sat at the top of LSU’s cornerback wish list for the Class of 2017, and the coaching staff remains in touch with Labruzza at this juncture in his recruitment.
However, the No. 15-rated prospect from The Boot remains solid with the Vols and opted not to attend LSU’s Bayou Picnic in May nor the school’s high school camp earlier this month.
Coaches Les Miles and Ed Orgeron remain devoted to luring Labruzza back to Baton Rouge, with Miles once vowing not to let the cornerback go anywhere else. The coaches may have their work cut out for them, but Labruzza has always held LSU in high regard. He spent much of his spring taking in LSU practices and making unofficial visits to campus. It’s clear that LSU wants one of the state’s premier talents to join its secondary no matter how much work it may require.
Alex Leatherwood, 5-star OT, Alabama commit (Pensacola, Fla.)
It’s been all quiet on the Leatherwood front since the elite offensive tackle made a slew of visits in recent weeks. The No. 5 prospect at his position in the 2017 class has made stops at Alabama, LSU, Southern Cal, Florida and Auburn since April.
Leatherwood grew up as an LSU fan, and being three hours away from campus has resulted in a handful of visits to Baton Rouge this spring. During those visits, Leatherwood has been impressed by the facilities and the coaching staff, and envisions earning early playing time if he were to flip his commitment.
At Nike’s “The Opening” New Orleans regional held in April, Leatherwood explained to SEC Country that he was going to spend the summer evaluating all of his options, including both Alabama and LSU. Since then, 6-foot-6, 315-pounder has watched as LSU secure commitments from three offensive linemen — 4-star guard Edward Ingram, 3-star guard Saahdiq Charles and 4-star tackle Austin Deculus. It’s unclear how adding three linemen impacts Deculus’ thought process, particularly with four-star Louisiana tackle Adrian Ealy also strongly linked to the Tigers. However, LSU is in need of one more tackle for its 2017 class and could be in danger of losing Ealy to Oklahoma or Miami. That would result in offensive line coach Jeff Grimes making a concerted effort to push for Leatherwood.
Josh Clarke, 3-star OLB, Ole Miss commit (New Orleans)
Clarke is Ole Miss’ newest pledge, and the linebacker is content sticking with the Rebels until National Signing Day rolls around.
However, an offer from LSU could certainly alter his recruitment.
Clarke maintains strong ties with the Tigers’ area recruiter, running backs coach Jabbar Juluke, who called the Riverdale High School (New Orleans) product right after his commitment announcement. Juluke informed the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder that LSU would continue to recruit him, and the coaching staff will have a chance to see him up close and personal when he attends their July high school camp.
The linebacker remains resolute on procuring an offer from his in-state team, and whether or not that affects his decision remains to be seen. Clarke is comfortable with his future in Oxford, Miss., but managing to earn an offer from LSU and join coordinator Dave Aranda’s defense is certainly an intriguing possibility for the local talent.
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tigers Stadium.