Welcome to the first edition of the LSU recruiting mailbag.
It’s a weekly piece we’ll continue to churn out through National Signing Day (Feb. 3) to give you — the readers — an up-to-the-minute look at the Tigers’ 2016 recruiting class from my point of view.
This week, part of LSU’s 2016 class landed on campus. The question remains: Who will join them in the fall?
For that and more, let’s turn to this week’s questions and answers from the LSU recruiting mailbag:
1. Will LSU wind up with a quarterback in this year’s class?
LSU fans would really like to, and the Tigers took one step toward possibly pushing that to fruition this week.
Four-star Pennsylvania quarterback Anthony Russo de-committed from Rutgers on Monday. Russo is one of a handful of 2016 prospects that LSU is reportedly eyeing as late additions to this year’s recruiting class.
Many LSU fans were hoping that it would be four-star Maryland-committed quarterback Dwayne Haskins that would reopen his commitment, especially after rumors circulated that Haskins was going to take an official visit to LSU on Jan. 15.
However, LSU fans should not panic, even if Russo doesn’t wind up in LSU’s class.
I hate to be that guy, but Brandon Harris remains LSU’ starting quarterback. It’s hard to image even if Russo committed to LSU, he could overtake Harris before the 2016 season.
LSU fans should be more encouraged that St. James High School (La.) Class of 2017 quarterback Lowell Narcisse de-committed from Auburn and will likely give LSU a closer look going into the spring and his senior season.
LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has maintained a close bond with Narcisse, even after he committed to Auburn over LSU and Clemson, and will try to earn a commitment from the nation’s No. 4 dual-threat signal caller over the next year.
2. What are LSU’s chances at landing Curtis offensive lineman Willie Allen?
LSU fans are hoping to sway Allen in one direction this weekend when he officially visits the campus.
Allen has taken official visits to UGA and TCU, and after LSU will head out to Auburn on Jan. 22 and Ole Miss on Jan. 29 The five schools are the offensive tackle’s five finalists.
For much of Allen’s recruitment, it’s fair to say LSU was not his leading school. But what could change the New Orleans native’s mind is that there is suddenly an opportunity for immediate playing time in Baton Rouge, La. since the Tigers are set to lose both of their starting tackles from this past season.
Allen has made three unofficial trips to LSU this fall and is one of the headliners in a star-studded crop going to LSU this weekend.
It’s unclear which school is the top dog for Allen at this time, but in my opinion, LSU is probably a close second with more than a fighting chance to earn a commitment.
3. There’s so much talent from the New Orleans area heading up to LSU this weekend. Who do you think will wind up wearing the purple and gold?
While there is a wealth of talent visiting LSU this weekend, don’t expect many commitments from the prospects in attendance — at least until National Signing Day.
This weekend’s official visitor list includes nine current LSU commits and five uncommitted prospects. Names on the latter list include Kristian Fulton, Rashard Lawrence, D’Andre Christmas-Giles, Nigel Warrior and Allen.
All of those prospects are expected to announce their future on National Signing Day, but that doesn’t mean this weekend lacks any importance.
Off that list, I tend to look at Lawrence’s and Christmas-Giles’ visits as the most interesting.
Lawrence is down to LSU and Ohio State, but saved his visit to LSU for last. He previously told SEC Country that he doesn’t mind making a decision in January, so a strong visit could potentially lead to Lawrence making a decision — and soon.
Christmas-Giles has seen his recruitment taken off in recent weeks, and upon picking up the offer from the hometown Tigers has shown a fondness for the school. Christmas-Giles is also in the mix for a plethora of SEC schools, but could certainly wind up at LSU if everything falls into place.
4. Where does LSU stand with Kristian Fulton?
This could be a Jeopardy question. And if that’s the case, the answer is: “What is in the mix?”
Fulton has three official visits planned over the next three weekends — to LSU, Arkansas and Florida — seemingly the three finalists to land the New Orleans four-star cornerback.
Fulton chose to make his first official visit of January to LSU instead of Miami, which is a promising sign for the Tigers of keeping Fulton in Louisiana.
However, right now I’d probably put LSU as a close second behind Florida in the race for Fulton. Let me repeat: right now.
Fulton has been to both LSU and The Swamp this fall, but at times has also said Arkansas was leading his recruitment. Perhaps a darkhorse in the race at this time, you cannot rule out the Razorbacks winning the Fulton sweepstakes in the end.
I tend to favor Florida for now over LSU because Fulton has often said it’s no lock that he winds up landing with the Tigers. That’s me taking Fulton for his word, which has always been solid.
This weekend could go a long way in perhaps swaying Fulton in one direction or another. But for now, LSU fans may have to take a wait-and-see approach with the highly touted cornerback.
5. What positions in LSU’s 2016 recruiting class are the strongest?
The three position groups that LSU addressed well thus far have been defensive line, linebacker and wide receiver. It seems to me that the 2016 crop is both talented and deep at those three positions, and interestingly enough, continue to be in the mix for more prospects in those spots.
Let’s start along the defensive line. LSU has secured commitments from a wealth of defensive tackles and pass-rushing defensive ends, which strengthens an already deep position for the Tigers.
Don’t forget about Arden Key, Davon Godchaux, Christian LaCouture and Lewis Neal. But a quick look ahead at LSU’s future along the defensive line includes four-star prospects such as Edwin Alexander, Glen Logan, Rahssan Thornton, Andre Anthony and Caleb Roddy. Also, LSU remains very much in the mix for Christmas-Giles and Lawrence, one of the SEC’s hottest targets of late and Louisiana’s top-rated prospect.
At linebacker, LSU has added impact players in Michael Divinity and Erick Fowler. Right now, with Deion Jones and Lamar Louis on their way out, I can already envision both of those freshman earning starting jobs or significant minutes right out of the gate.
With the expectation that Kendell Beckwith should be back in 2016, LSU’s new-look linebacker corps should have the same dynamic impact as it did last season.
Lastly, LSU has already secured four wide receivers in its 2016 class. That includes four-star prospects Dee Anderson, Stephen Sullivan and Drake Davis, as well as highly regarded three-star prospect Da’Monte Coxie.
Three of those receivers are 6-foot-4 or taller, and Coxie is 6-foot-3 with blazing speed, so not a bad compromise.
It’s easy to see some of these incoming players finding a role in the LSU offense early, particularly at a position of need.
All player ranking and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.