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.
ADD TO THE MAILBAG: If you want to submit a question, send a message to @SamSpiegs on Twitter or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Room is getting tight in the Tigers recruiting class, with just a handful of scholarship spots remaining for what appears to be a wide range of blue-chip targets.
Although we’re still in the first month of the college football season, we’re about to leap into the fourth quarter of the recruiting cycle.
So, what’s next? Let’s take a look:
How many prospects will LSU lose because Les Miles was fired? (@BwhinsOld)
In 72 hours, the answer is zero.
That’s not to say LSU won’t lose a commitment down the line. There’s still a lot to be determined — who the next head coach will be, which assistants will remain on the staff, etc.
With Ed Orgeron as the interim coach and most of the assistants still in place, the top candidates for decommitment have been stable thus far.
Miles is gone, and so is offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Cam Cameron. You would expect that to possibly shake up things for the two quarterback commits, Lowell Narcisse and Myles Brennan, yet both have stood pat. Narcisse has yet to reaffirm his pledge, but Brennan already has been outright in his commitment.
3-star fullback commit Tory Carter spent time contemplating his commitment — for about a day — before also reaffirming his commitment. Carter was a fan of LSU’s power run game, which involved a fullback maybe more so than any other program in the nation. Still, Carter is in more of a wait-and-see mode. Keep in mind that Orgeron was his primary recruiter.
4-star wide receiver commit Jhamon Ausbon has remained silent thus far, which is a bit of an eyebrow raiser. Wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig and area recruiter Bradley Dale Peveto are his lead recruiters, and both remain on the LSU staff. Ausbon may be curious to see what the future holds for this offense, but I’m not sure Miles’ departure is a cause for concern.
4-star tackle Austin Deculus is in the same boat. He was a Les Miles guy and had a fantastic relationship with the coach. Michigan may try to increase its efforts on the Texas lineman with Miles out of the picture, but Deculus also boasts a strong bond with assistant Jeff Grimes. Deculus is a vital component in LSU’s No. 4-ranked recruiting class. He may be waiting to see who Miles’ successor is before making any rash decisions.
LSU’s two Alabama defensive lineman recruits also are waiting patiently to see what’s next in Baton Rouge. Neil Farrell has been courted heavily by Florida State after he pledged to the Tigers. The same goes for Justin Thomas and Alabama. Craig and Orgeron spearheaded both of their recruitments, so they may be waiting to see if they last until next season.
To repeat my main point: In three days, there have been zero decommitments. So far, so good in Tiger Land.
How far could Ed Orgeron go on Survivor? Further than Les Miles? (@Kconnorriley)
This is a toss-up for the ages, Connor.
In the last mailbag, I stood by the Mad Hatter because, honestly, he’s just so unpredictable. Imagine how many different alliances Miles would forge in an afternoon. He basically can feed himself from the earth. The question is how good are his deception skills?
Survivor fans know that some of the biggest rises in show history came via lying, cheating and slithering their way to the final three. Remember in Season 7 when Jonny Fairplay lied about his dead grandmother? The other way to take advantage of those tactics has been to do that, then apologize. Todd Herzog made that famous in 2007 when he said sorry to all of the jurors he wronged during the final Tribal Council.
Is Miles capable of that? Then again, is Coach O?
Like Miles, I’d suspect that Orgeron would be an absolute monster when it came to immunity challenges. The LSU players vow that Orgeron, who’s 55 years old, has more energy than most of them. That includes defensive tackle Greg Gilmore, 21, offensive lineman Will Clapp, 20, and Foster Moreau, 19. Combined, they’re only 60 years old.
Clapp suggested Orgeron hides Red Bull all over his office, but he wouldn’t get away with that on Survivor. He’d have to rely on his natural abilities as it pertains to motivating his tribe, building relationships and consistently winning challenges.
The more I think about it, Coach Miles vs. Coach O in Survivor would come down to a quiet confidence vs. a strong competitor. Which do you think would win over the Tribal Council?
With the new developments, can we get an updated forecast of the 2017 class? (@pferrer1865)
My most recent projections — Mock 4.0 — are just about a month old. Of course, things are subject to change with Miles out the door, Orgeron as the interim coach and nobody fully aware of what is in store for the coaching staff in 2017.
To make this as forward as possible, here’s the list of LSU’s 20 commitments in 2017 and a projected number of players they’ll take at each position.
QB (2 of 2): Lowell Narcisse, Myles Brennan
RB (2 of 2/3): Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Tory Carter
WR (3 of 4): Stephen Guidry, Mannie Netherly, Jhamon Ausbon
OL (4 of 4): Austin Deculus, Edward Ingram, Saahdiq Charles, Seth Stewart
DL (4 of 6): Tyler Shelvin, Aaron Moffitt, Justin Thomas, Neil Farrell
LB (1 of 4): Patrick Queen
CB (2 of 2): Kary Vincent Jr., Jontre Kirklin
S (2 of 3): Grant Delpit, JaCoby Stevens
*Running back could get pushed to three, if LSU makes strides with 5-star back Cam Akers or eventually offers another prospect. To me, it’s Akers or bust. It’s more likely they cruise to Signing Day with Edwards-Helaire and address more backs in 2018, and add a fifth defensive back in this cycle.
As far as the forecast goes, here are some key points:
- Most of these current commits will stay put, barring the loss of several assistant coaches and Orgeron, as well as members of the personnel staff.
- I don’t expect LSU to land Akers. It could offer 3-star Louisiana RB Travis Etienne, but he’s not the downhill, workhorse back that Jabbar Juluke is hoping to add.
- The top wide receiver target is Racey McMath. He’ll decide between LSU and Mississippi State. He’s certainly a take for the Tigers and is the most likely addition ahead of Devonta Smith, Al’dontre Davis or Jeremiah Holloman.
- I don’t think LSU can land a tight end in 2017, nor do I believe it’s imperative that it does.
- On the defensive line, the top targets remain Marvin Wilson, Isaiah Buggs and Phidarian Mathis. Expect at least two of those three to make their way to LSU. Orgeron’s presence will be key to that. There’s also a strong chance LSU loses commitments from some of these linemen. Six is the ideal haul, though.
- Linebacker is the main position of emphasis down the stretch. Dylan Moses, Chris Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson, Will Ignont, Levi Jones. LSU needs three to pad depth at the most important position in Dave Aranda’s defense. Head coach will play a massive role in most of these decisions, particularly Moses, Allen and Chaisson.
- 4-star Louisiana safety Todd Harris is the top defensive back target left on LSU’s board. The team wants three safeties to help replace Jamal Adams, Rickey Jefferson and cornerback Dwayne Thomas. Even though Ole Miss and Alabama are pursuing Harris, odds are he winds up with the Tigers.
Chances we get Tom Herman? (serrient_Bell)
I won’t just spitball a percentage. Here’s the actual percentage, via BookMaker.EU.
— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) September 26, 2016
Let’s dig a bit deeper, though. Shall we?
It’s my belief that, as of Wednesday, there are three serious candidates for the job:
- Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
- Tom Herman, Houston
- Ed Orgeron, LSU
Fisher was the obvious name because LSU athletic director Joe Alleva reached out to him in November when Miles’ seat was warming up. At the time, Fisher showed no interest in relocating from Tallahassee, Fla., to Baton Rouge, which led to Miles staying put … until now.
What can LSU afford to pay Fisher to bring him back? Remember, Fisher was the offensive coordinator for Nick Saban and Miles when LSU made seven consecutive bowl-game appearances, won a pair of SEC championships and helped the team post a 70-20 record, including a victory in the 2003 BCS National Championship. He also helped develop quarterbacks Josh Booty, Rohan Davey, Matt Mauck, JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn.
Herman is going to be the big name from a small school that every university with an opening will court. It works in LSU’s favor that this job opened in late September, which gives the school ample time to reach out to Herman’s representatives.
The interesting part about Herman to LSU is, quite frankly, how much it makes sense. He’s bound to be the most sought-after head coach in the country, with LSU likely being the biggest opening available. He’s an offensive-minded coach for a team in need of a spark in that category. He’s an Urban Meyer disciple and recruits Texas well. Besides Louisiana, Texas — and more specifically, Houston — is LSU’s main recruiting ground.
From a recruiting standpoint, some of LSU’s top 2017 targets such as Dylan Moses and K’Lavon Chaisson are being courted by Houston. Would Herman’s leap from Houston to LSU bolster the Tigers’ chances? You can’t rule it out.
Lastly — on Orgeron — if he’s able to ride this roller coaster and lead LSU to a winning record in the final eight regular-season games, he has a legitimate chance to earn the full-time gig. After all, no coach represents The Boot better than Coach O, who essentially is auditioning for his dream job.
By promoting Orgeron, LSU is in a favorable position to keep most of its assistant coaches. That includes Dameyune Craig and Corey Raymond, who, along with Orgeron, are vital to LSU’s recruiting efforts and keeping most of the commits embedded in the class.
Orgeron is willing to relay much of the offensive responsibilities to his staff. LSU could make a marquee offensive coordinator hire to the staff, too, particularly because it wouldn’t have to open its wallet too wide to afford Orgeron. For what it’s worth, the LSU brass is a big fan of Orgeron’s energy and discipline. They’re just waiting to see if it translates onto the field.
Here are my overall top 10 candidates to be LSU’s next coach.
Shout out to the Carencro Meatheads and Jay Sias. When is the ideal timeline for the new hire? Sam Da Man! (@datDamnLilreg)
Simply put, as early as possible.
From a recruiting standpoint, the sooner that recruits — both current commits and remaining targets — are aware of who is leading LSU and which assistant coaches will be on the staff, the better.
If this occurs in late January, then LSU may struggle to put the finishing touches on its 2017 class with National Signing Day on the horizon. However, if it’s in late November or early December, there is enough time for either coaching staff to regroup, refocus its attention and try to reel in the best recruiting class possible.
By LSU opting to fire Miles in September, the program already is ahead of others across the country in beginning a coaching search. Whether it’s a hire from within or outside, LSU has an edge in its decision-making process and can make a hire sooner than a program that cuts ties with the head coach after the season.
If it’s Orgeron, for instance, the transition should be seamless. If it’s an outside hire such as Fisher or Herman, there might be a wait — likely until after the regular season comes to a close. It’s not uncommon for coaches to be hired in that quiet period between Thanksgiving and bowl season.
So, Meatheads, the ideal situation: identify a head coach as early as possible to solidify a coaching staff. That allows the staff to reach out to commits and remaining targets as early as possible. Expect the days after LSU’s finale at Texas A&M and the first few days of December to be right in the middle of that sweet spot.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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