Welcome back to the weekly LSU football and recruiting mailbag.
Every week, LSU reporter Sam Spiegelman goes through his stack to answer some of the most pressing questions submitted by you, the readers.
This week’s mailbag comes after a quiet week, which of course came in the aftermath of the Tigers nabbing five commitments in as many days following the Bayou Picnic.
Next up, many of the 2016 LSU signees are about to report to campus, and the Tigers’ coaches are set to hit the road for a slew of satellite camps throughout the states of Louisiana and Texas, beginning in Bossier City, La., on Thursday and the New Orleans Saints practice facility over the weekend.
Without further ado, here we go:
Do you see LSU having the number No. 1 recruiting class this year? (@Hayesfawcett3)
They’re certainly putting themselves in a position to do so. But truth be told, LSU will need to secure a commitment from an even higher number of blue-chip prospects in order to cement the top recruiting class for 2017.
That’s encouraging news for LSU fans, as many of those elite prospects are strongly considering the Tigers and have as good of a chance of winding up in Baton Rouge, La., as anywhere else.
As it stands today, LSU has procured the No. 3 class in the country, per the 247Sports Composite rankings. That class features 12 commitments, including six blue-chip prospects (one 5-star, five 4-star) and a trio of three-stars with major upside.
The opportunity to move up to No. 1 may take until National Signing Day, as some of the nation’s best could still be a few months from finalizing their decision.
The Tigers are in the hunt for five-star linebacker Dylan Moses, who recently named Texas his leader ahead of both LSU and Alabama. However, the one-time LSU commit is a big fan of new LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and has a unique tie to the program given his longstanding bond with the coaches. That could eventually lure him back to his hometown of Baton Rouge, La.
Five-star Marvin Wilson is also months out from announcing a commitment, but LSU has cemented itself in the race for the nation’s top defensive tackle. LSU, along with ‘Bama, Florida State, Texas, Texas A&M and Ole Miss, are all in the running for Wilson. However, after he makes more visits this summer — including one to LSU’s campus — the Tigers should be able to survive another round of cuts leading up to Wilson’s final decision.
Sticking on the defensive side of the ball, LSU has gained ground on a number of highly sought-after linebackers that have yet to narrow their choices down. Four-stars such as K’Lavon Chaisson, Christopher Allen and Bruce Jordan-Swilling could all wind up in the purple and gold. Or perhaps the Tigers nab two of those future linebackers, which still puts the team in a strong position to close out their class strong.
Other marquee prospects left to declare include five-star running back Cam Akers, who just visited LSU for the Bayou Picnic and named the team in his top 10. The Mississippi native was once an Alabama pledge, then was thought to be favoring Ole Miss. However, with an illegal benefits scandal hovering over the program’s head, LSU may have quietly climbed up the list.
Lastly, there are two elite safeties that are both leaning toward LSU. Todd Harris and Grant Delpit are the nation’s Nos. 6 and 11 prospects at the position, respectively, and after several visits to LSU this past spring, both are in a spot where they’re readying for the next phase of the process with a leading school in mind. Delpit has the looks of a Jamal Adams successor, while Harris — who is impressive in coverage — is as good of an in-the-box safety as there is in the country.
With so many household names mentioned and others in the discussion, LSU has put itself in a position to land some of the nation’s top uncommitted prospects. If the team pulls away with some of the aforementioned talents, then it could ultimately walk away with the best class in 2017 ahead of other contenders like Ohio State and Alabama.
Who are some prospects about to land an offer in your opinion? (@LSUPETERadams)
There is an abundance of talent in The Boot this year that has yet to earn an offer from LSU.
Year in and year out, the staff elects to hold off on extending offers to certain prospects until the summertime — prospects that the coaches have visited and spent ample time with over the spring and just want to see and work out with on campus.
Bryan Jones is one of the first names that comes to mind. The newly-minted Ole Miss commit was on LSU’s campus multiple times this spring, but opted to commit out of the blue. The nation’s No. 9 strong-side defensive end remains in contact with Ed Orgeron and Cam Cameron, and could impress the coaches with a strong showing at camp, perhaps garnering an offer and re-thinking his pledge.
Receiver Rayce McMath is one of the better New Orleans area prospects this year. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder hails from Edna Karr High School (New Orleans), where new running backs coach Jabbar Juluke won a state championship. Juluke, Cameron and Dameyune Craig have all checked in on McMath this spring. After a dazzling performance in front of Juluke last week, McMath may just need to do it once more in front of the LSU coaches before he winds up receiving his offer.
Travis Etienne is one of the nation’s most sought-after running backs, and Juluke has been in touch with the Jennings (La.) High School product this spring. The Tigers are looking at the three-star prospect as a defensive back, but that could change with time. If Etienne flashes signs at camp, it could alter LSU’s view of him. He holds offers from a slew of SEC powers, but has left the door open for LSU to enter the fray. If LSU feels as if it’s falling behind on other running backs such as Akers or Toneil Carter, Etienne could shoot up the team’s list.
Junior college prospect Joe Anderson generated interest from LSU as a senior at Riverside Academy (Reserve, La.) when he was a member of the 2015 recruiting class. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive end is likely a Plan B should LSU lose ground on top junior college defensive end Isaiah Buggs. Anderson signed with Ole Miss out of high school, but declared to SEC Country that LSU is his leader as he awaits an offer. It seems unlikely LSU would sign two junior college defensive ends, but Anderson has plenty of talent and could make it a possibility after a strong camp showing.
Two other prospects that could be on the verge of earning offers are New Orleans outside linebacker Josh Clarke and cornerback Amik Robertson.
Clarke has always been high on LSU, but despite being offered by nearly 30 schools the Tigers have held their ground. The nation’s No. 36 outside linebacker, Clarke could jump the front of LSU’s wish list should things go awry with some of its other targets at the position.
LSU has already swung and missed on some of its top cornerback targets. Cheyenne Labruzza committed to Tennessee, and the Tigers are one of many schools courting New Orleans’ Tre’ Swilling. Robertson visited for the Bayou Picnic and could get more consideration if he impresses during an LSU camp. Until then, the coaches have been out on the road checking in on other highly touted cornerbacks across the country.
Any chance Devin White moves back to running back down the line? Watching this kid’s HUDL with the ball in his hand is exciting! (@chris_baudean)
White was one of the nation’s top athletes in the 2016 class after starring on both sides of the ball in high school.
He was expected to remain in the backfield when he arrived at LSU, but opted to switch to linebacker in order to see the field as soon as possible.
Leonard Fournette would almost certainly declare for the NFL draft after his junior season, leaving Derrius Guice as the presumptive starter heading into 2017. White could switch back to the offensive side of the ball and compete with Guice or at least carve out of a spot in LSU’s backfield.
Kendell Beckwith will also be leaving to pursue a career in the NFL, meaning a starting middle linebacker job could be White’s if he elects to stay put.
Decisions … decisions … decisions.
Because of the depth — or lack thereof — on the defensive side of the ball, my gut tells me that White will remain a linebacker at LSU. He should be in the rotation this year and could eventually nab a starting job away from Duke Riley. The coaches are all very high on him and want him to be on the field, and if he were to switch back to running back, that could force him to be a rotational player.
The one caveat I’ll add is LSU’s 2017 recruiting class. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the only running back pledge LSU has thus far, and it remains to be seen what Akers or Carter will wind up doing. If the Tigers fail to secure a commitment from a workhorse-style back, then White may be persuaded to return to the position and split reps with Guice.
If LSU keeps both of the 2017 quarterbacks who are committed, will it be harder to add an elite quarterback in the 2018 class?
You would think so, but that has not deterred the LSU coaches from putting their best foot forward.
First, it’s important to remember that the Tigers have already secured a commitment from 2018 quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann.
A nearly 6-foot-5, 213-pound pro-style prospect out of Somerset (Texas) High School, Dinkelmann is one of four current commitments in the 2018 class, which like this year’s and last year’s is shaping up to be one of the nation’s best.
It has been quiet on the Dinkelmann approach since LSU landed commitments from Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse in the past few months. The biggest question mark is whether the Tigers look in another direction at that position.
LSU is courting a pair of Parkway High School (Bossier City, La.) prospects in wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. and quarterback Justin Rogers. The latter, Rogers, is a 6-foot-4, 195-pounder that is rated as the No. 38 dual-threat prospect in the country.
Depending on what happens to Brandon Harris after the 2016 season — whether it’s venturing off to the NFL ranks or not — LSU expects to soon have Lindsey Scott Jr., Justin McMillan, Danny Etling, Narcisse and Brennan on its depth chart. That sudden depth could deter some of the nation’s best quarterbacks from committing to LSU.
We’ll have to see what happens with Harris and even Etling, and perhaps if things shake up with McMillan when the rush of young prospects arrive on campus. But Scott, Narcisse and Brennan will all look to make a push to become Harris’ successor, and whoever wins could be poised to take control of the job for some time.
In other words, there’s still a lot to be determined about the future of LSU’s quarterback position. Who stays? Who goes? And who’s next?
Until that is settled, I don’t foresee LSU having too much trouble recruiting quarterbacks. For now, many still see it as an open competition. And with the evolving offense and plethora of talented wide receivers on their way to Baton Rouge, La., it becomes an even more intriguing option for elite signal-callers.
How many games does Les Miles need to win this season to save his job?
To be honest, that number is somewhere very close to 12.
How did I calculate 12? Well, that’s giving LSU the wiggle room of suffering one regular-season loss, which will likely have to come earlier on in the season. It could come as early as the opener against Wisconsin in Lambeau Field, or a conference tilt on the road at Auburn or Florida before Halloween.
The tricky part is if LSU opens the season at a fast pace, then begins to fade like it did last year. Much like in 2015, the Tigers face some of their tougher competition later on in the season, but many of those marquee showdowns come in the friendly confines of Tiger Stadium.
LSU lost to Arkansas, Ole Miss and Alabama down the stretch of last season, but will face both the Rebels and Crimson Tide at home, with a week off in between the games. That leaves conference battles with Arkansas and Texas A&M on the road as final hurdles to end the year on a high note.
A one-loss regular season would mean that the Tigers went 11-1. The concern for Miles is if his team comes up short against, say, Alabama in early November, which dampens LSU’s chances to win the SEC West.
It’s nearly impossible to predict if and when LSU may drop a game, but winning the division is a strong first step. Winning the SEC championship on Dec. 3 may be enough to salvage Miles’ job for another few years.
Now, if LSU does in fact capture the SEC crown, chances are that the team will advance to the College Football Playoff. That alone should further Miles’ chances of staying put, but another win there to push the total to 13 should likely quell any concerns over job security for some amount of time.
LSU certainly has the team to do it this year, particularly in a season in which many of the SEC contenders have questions more pressing than the Tigers.
Besides the obvious one at quarterback, what is the most-needed position for LSU in 2017?
LSU’s 2016 signing class features a host of future offensive line contributors, some of the nation’s top wide receivers and a collection of defensive backs that should find their way onto the field almost immediately.
The Tigers also made a splash with their new defensive tackles and pass rushers.
Quarterback was the primary concern, and was addressed in a big way. Depth at certain positions remains a major folly, though.
The 2016 class featured many elite pass rushers such as Michael Divinity Jr., Andre Anthony, Sci Martin and Rahsaan Thornton, and defensive linemen like Glen Logan. But LSU will likely have to replace Davon Godchaux and Lewis Neal.
Many of the incoming signees will be forced to stand up and play outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme, leaving defensive end as arguably the most glaring position of need.
Dave Aranda and Orgeron must find fits for the 3-4 end spots. Buggs, Anderson and Jones all fit the bill. As does LSU commit Aaron Moffitt, who is open to playing anywhere along the defensive front.
If you would have asked me this same question a month ago, my gut response would have been linebacker. However, with three 2016 players about to report to campus and LSU in good positions with some of the nation’s best in the 2017 crop, defensive end has jumped to the top of the LSU coaches’ wish list.
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.