BATON ROUGE, La. — There’s only one week until National Signing Day. And during the next seven days, the LSU football coaching staff will work full time at topping off the first class of Ed Orgeron’s tenure as head coach.
With one week to go, LSU already has quite a class coming in. The Tigers have the No. 7 class in the nation and the No. 3 unit in the SEC, according to the 247 Sports composite rankings. LSU is slotted ahead of two of the four College Football Playoff teams from 2016, including defending national champion Clemson.
That said, LSU has more than a couple of tasks it needs to achieve before Feb. 1. Here are seven tasks the Tigers need to achieve in the next seven days.
Task 1: Court at least one linebacker
This one’s the no-brainer. LSU is losing two senior leaders at linebacker (Kendell Beckwith and Duke Riley) and doesn’t have a player committed to step in and fill that hole.
Sure, Donnie Alexander and Devin White are still around, and they should be serviceable. But, beyond them, there isn’t much depth in the group.
Expect defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Dave Aranda to be active in the next few days. The big names to watch for are 4-star Oklahoma commit Jacob Phillips and uncommitted 4-star Willie Gay.
One of LSU’s other priority linebacker targets, Christopher Allen, reaffirmed his commitment to Alabama on Tuesday.
Task 2: Camp out in Houston
Perhaps the two biggest recruits the LSU football team is after in the last week are 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and 4-star edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson.
Wilson and Chaisson are Houston natives who are expected to wait until National Signing Day to make their decisions. LSU’s staff should spend as much time as the NCAA permits during the next week in Houston, constantly reminding these two of what they could mean to the Tigers.
Wilson could be the next in a long line of great LSU interior defensive linemen, ranging from Glenn Dorsey to rising sophomore Ed Alexander. He’d also get to play under two defensive line coaching legends: Orgeron and Pete Jenkins.
As for Chaisson, he doesn’t need to look too hard to find out how LSU is going to use him. All he needs to do is pop in some tape on Arden Key and imagine how he’d look lining up opposite of him.
If LSU can get these two recruits, expect the Tigers to climb up the final class rankings. Big time.
Task 3: Secure another weapon or two
LSU should be fine as far as skill players go in 2017. Derrius Guice is going to be a fixture in the backfield, and Nick Brossette and Darrel Williams will do a fine job of backing him up. The same can be said of the wide receivers, just substitute D.J. Chark for Guice and LSU’s long list of inexperienced receivers for Brossette and Williams.
That said, LSU needs to deepen in those areas. Sure, the Tigers have an early enrollee at wide receiver in Mannie Netherly and commitments from running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and receivers Stephen Guidry and Racey McMath. But one more running back or receiver wouldn’t hurt.
Speaking of which …
Task 4: Make a final push for Travis Etienne
The No. 1 running back in Louisiana, Jennings native Travis Etienne effectively has cut his recruitment to two schools: LSU and Clemson.
The former Texas A&M pledge is expected to make a decision on Thursday. If he chooses LSU, that should just about shore up LSU’s quest for depth at the skill positions. It would give LSU commitments from four of the top 12 players in Louisiana.
What do you know? Another segue.
Task 5: Finish strong in Louisiana
Three of the four top-rated prospects in Louisiana are uncommitted: wide receiver DeVonta Smith, safety Todd Harris and defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis.
Harris and Mathis would be big gets for LSU, albeit at positions LSU already has talent coming in at. Harris would be LSU’s third major safety commit after 5-star JaCoby Stevens and 4-star Grant Delpit, both of whom already have enrolled. Mathis would join 4-star Tyler Shelvin, as well as possibly Wilson, if he were to commit to LSU.
Task 6: Find one more DB
If LSU is going to get a commitment from one more DB, it’ll probably have to be Harris. Regardless of who it is, the Tigers probably need to add one more defensive back in the class.
LSU loses starters Jamal Adams, Tre’Davious White, Rickey Jefferson and Dwayne Thomas to the NFL draft and graduation this year. And though Donte Jackson and John Battle were above-average starters for LSU in 2016, the Tigers need to revamp for the next generation of DBU.
Stevens, Delpit and Kary Vincent Jr. are certainly a good start. But one more defensive back wouldn’t hurt. Not at all.
Task 7: Establish a distinct LSU football recruiting identity
This is the first homestretch for the Orgeron-Matt Canada-Aranda generation of LSU football. And as vital as it is for these three to make a mark this year, it’s equally vital to establish LSU as a power player for future recruiting classes.
LSU needs to make a splash, be it flipping a player like Phillips from a power program like Oklahoma or getting a commitment from Wilson on national television.
Whatever it is, LSU needs to peak at the end of this recruiting cycle, not at the beginning. Anything the Tigers can do to boost their national perception in this next week will pay incalculable dividends down the line.