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.
We’re at the midway point in the college football season and about to move into the fourth quarter of the recruiting cycle.
So, what’s next? Let’s take a look:
Do you see Guice and Fournette in the backfield at the same time? (@petejg24)
To be completely honest, I wasn’t all that confident that Leonard Fournette would return in time for this week’s game against Ole Miss. After all, LSU has an off week on Oct. 29, which would have given No. 7 an extra two weeks off to recover leading up the all-important showdown against Alabama.
However, the LSU coaches can’t hold Fournette back from wanting to contribute, and that just goes to show you his competitive fire. He’ll be back, but at what capacity remains to be seen.
Derrius Guice has been superb in his stead, leading the team in rushing and serving as the offensive spark plug in every opportunity he has received. LSU coach Ed Orgeron’s offensive game plan includes more explosive plays, which is something squarely in Guice’s arsenal.
Do not expect the LSU coaches to simply push Guice back to the bench just because Fournette is healthy. In fact, they would be doing Fournette a favor by rotating him with Guice — by series, by quarter, etc. — to ensure that Fournette doesn’t take on too much of a workload right away.
Sorry for going off on a tangent, Pete, but I also expect some unique formations in which both Fournette and Guice line up in the LSU backfield at the same time. Guice could also line up as a slot receiver or H-back, or the two standout running backs could keep a defense honest with the threat of some option plays.
Fournette’s return should actually help out Guice, as strange as that might seem. When a team’s best two offensive weapons are both running backs, it doesn’t make sense not to use them both, whether it’s in a rotation or different packages. Expect to see a little bit of both against the Rebels on Saturday.
Do you think Dylan Moses may change his mind? Has Coach O given any comments on that? (@AllMilitaryNews)
First off, coach O cannot comment on recruits. Sorry. That’s a violation.
As for Part I of the question, I certainly think there’s a reason to believe that Moses could eventually have a change of heart.
Moses, the No. 1 linebacker in the Class of 2017 and a Baton Rouge native, returned home over the weekend and took in LSU’s game against Southern Miss alongside his family. The intrigue stems from the fact that the 5-star recruit had committed to arch-rival Alabama 13 days prior and had since told SEC Country he had canceled all of his other planned visits.
In other words, his recruitment “was over.”
Less than two weeks later, Moses stoked the fire by returning to LSU for the first time since Les Miles was fired. The departure of LSU’s longtime head coach played a major role in Moses’ decision to commit elsewhere. His attendance in Tiger Stadium suggests he is still listening to LSU’s pitch and is gauging the environment being implemented under Orgeron.
Moses’ family remains in Baton Rouge and he has had longstanding ties to numerous members of the Tigers coaching staff and current LSU players. He was embraced on the sidelines during pregame warmups and received V.I.P. treatment from coach O throughout the afternoon, as you might expect.
Multiple sources told SEC Country that LSU remains in contention for the 5-star outside linebacker and would not be surprised to see him change his mind in the next couple of weeks. After all, Moses is an early enrollee, so if he were to flip, it would have to be sooner rather than later. This story is far from over.
If we don’t get Cam Akers, who does? (@serrient_Bell)
For one, I think LSU is gaining steam with the 5-star running back.
LSU running backs coach Jabbar Juluke was in Mississippi earlier this month checking on Akers. Soon after, Akers received his U.S. Army All-American Bowl Game jersey in which he told multiple media outlets he was unfazed by Miles’ firing.
That’s a key piece to the puzzle because it won’t hinder LSU’s chances moving forward. With that in mind, there’s a quiet confidence that the team might be able to land the top uncommitted back in the 2017 class because of the full-court press it’s putting on Akers.
Still, there’s still a lot to be determined in this. Akers has visited Georgia, Tennessee and has an official visit with Alabama on the horizon. He still needs to make his way to Baton Rouge, which should be later this fall. LSU could be in the mix not only for a visit but an official down the line.
The interesting comment Akers made was that he’d like to see either Orgeron or Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher take over as the Tigers coach. To me, those are two likeliest options, which should put LSU in a strong position for the stretch run.
Georgia took itself out of the mix by adding two running backs this cycle in Toneil Carter and D’Andre Swift. Tennessee is likely in the same boat. Michigan has turned most of its attention to flipping Alabama pledge Najee Harris. That leaves Ohio State, in-state power Ole Miss and Florida State as the major threats to LSU’s chances of landing Akers.
Florida State could take itself out of the mix should Fisher leave for Baton Rouge. Ole Miss could be out, too, should the program be hit with major infractions in the aftermath of the self-reported violations. In other words, the Buckeyes might just be the biggest team to fear in this race.
Talk to any recruits lately? What are their thoughts about this rejuvenated team? (@JonDale22)
Jon, in fact, I’ve spoken to quite a few commits over the past several weeks. There’s been a common theme: They love the energy Orgeron has injected into this LSU team.
That includes both current commits and targets. Orgeron’s energy is omnipresent in the current players, the offensive and defensive styles of play, as well as the atmosphere in Tiger Stadium.
If you want specifics, I’ve included comments from some of LSU’s current commits and the team’s top 2017 targets.
- Isaiah Buggs, 4-star DL target: “It’s good to see a guy like that be in the running for head coach.”
- Todd Harris, 4-star DB target: “He brought a lot of energy on and off the field, and everyone was just really excited. He brings a lot more energy (than Les Miles).”
- Cam Akers, 5-star RB target: “Coach Ed Orgeron has always been someone I knew very well even with Les Miles there, so it doesn’t change anything as far as recruiting.”
- Saahdiq Charles, 3-star OL commit: “But from my opinion, there was the energy and emotion back in the game.”
- Adrian Ealy, 4-star OL target: “Coach O coached really well and it really opened my eyes up. I just wanted to see how coach O coached the team and led the team.”
- Kelvin Joseph, 5-star DB commit: “The team was flying around, getting after it and looking like a new team.”
- Patrick Queen, 4-star LB commit: “You can tell that he (coach O) really cares about us with all of the effort that he gives to spend time with us.”
- Christopher Allen, 4-star LB target: “There was a lot more energy than before. The players looked more loose and it looked like they were having fun.”
Shot out to the Carencro Meatheads and Bill McCauley Son. One coach: Jimbo Fisher or Tom Herman? Sam you dat dude, bruh. (@datDamnLilreg)
As always, I appreciate the question from the ‘Cro Meatheads.
To be completely honest, along with Orgeron, these are the only candidates I’d expect to be in the mix for the LSU job. The university is resolute on hiring a coach with experience and a track record of success, and these are the only two (or three counting coach O) that can stake a claim to that. That means this coaching search should be short and sweet.
Miles was canned because of his refusal to change. Orgeron, conversely, has changed — the atmosphere, the play-calling and, thus far, the results on the field.
Still, a loss to Ole Miss or Alabama likely will cause a stir in and around Baton Rouge. Inevitably, that should restart the chatter about LSU’s coaching search.
Expect to hear a lot about Herman, but also whispers about Fisher.
- He’s the “hot” candidate. Usually, each year there’s a sexy coordinator or small-school coach that’s the top target. This year, that is unquestionably Herman.
- LSU was the first major job to open, but with Texas stumbling, there’s a feeling the Longhorns brass is already putting out feelers to Herman. There’s a widespread belief that if Herman wants the Texas job, he’ll get it.
- With the Big 12 opting not to expand, Houston’s chances of retaining Herman are all but gone. If the conference were to add two more teams — one of which would have likely been Houston — then Herman would have received a $5 million bonus and at least would have been a candidate to stay put. Now, the page has turned.
- LSU wants an offensive-minded coach after that side of the ball being the sore spot the past few years. Herman, an Urban Meyer discipline who has helped mold some of the better quarterbacks in the country over the last decade, makes sense from a purely football perspective.
- Herman has recruited the Houston area very well. Besides New Orleans, LSU’s biggest alumni base is in H-Town, which would be a very attractive selling point for Herman if he were to make the leap to LSU.
- If you want an experienced coach with a proven track record, Fisher fits the bill a bit better. After all, he
helped Florida State resurface as a national championship contender every season he’s been there, including an undefeated season culminating in a national championship in 2013.
- He’s an offensive coach. Sometimes, you forget about that because the ‘Noles are consistently great on defense. That’s just a plus, because Fisher’s background is on offense.
- Speaking of which, he was LSU’s offensive coordinator under Nick Saban. He’s familiar with Baton Rouge, which makes his ties to LSU that much stronger.
- LSU wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig was Fisher’s quarterbacks coach at Florida State. That’s a bonus if Fisher would retain Craig, who has been a superb coach and recruiter for the Tigers since his arrival in February.
- Fisher has dominated the ACC during his tenure in Tallahassee. However, there’s a thought that perhaps Fisher’s message is no longer being received in his seventh season at Florida State. Maybe Fisher needs a change of scenery to revive that message. By shifting over to the SEC, Fisher can try his hand in the best conference in college football with players he once recruited and the talent that could compete with any team in the country.
In short, I tend to side with Fisher. He’s a proven winner, an excellent recruiter and he’s already familiar with the program. I also think Fisher would be more inclined to retain some of LSU’s assistant coaches and the team could transition from Miles to Fisher without losing too much traction on the recruiting trail.
How did it feel to have coach Juluke take your picture? (@_Andrew_Lopez)
In a lot of ways, this is a humble brag.
Lopez is pictured in this photo with me, so it’s not surprising at all he wanted to get some fame and notoriety.
But yes, back to the question: Coach Juluke and I go back to his days at Edna Karr when I was first covering New Orleans high school football. That relationship has never fallen off and it’s great to see him having success now at the highest level of college football.
One of his new tricks, though, is switching gears from running backs coach and recruiter to media photographer. He pulled this stunt a few times during LSU’s prospect camps in July, so it was almost inevitable that he’d rip it out of his back pocket after a big-time win over Southern Miss.
What we can say is that Juluke has a knack for timing. He understands the importance of people and relationships, and to his credit, he’s pretty darn good at taking photos. I guess it doesn’t hurt that the subjects aren’t too bad looking.
— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) October 16, 2016
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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