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 edition comes after LSU added its 20th commitment of the 2017 class in 3-star Alabama defensive end Justin Thomas. In other words, we’re about to leap into the fourth quarter of the recruiting cycle with fall camp coming to a close and the 2016 season about to get underway.
So what’s next? Let’s take a look:
Seems most teams have a favorite remaining target list, but what about the lesser-known, recently offered players who might “steal” a spot? (@LSUPETERadams)
First off, what an awesome question. Usually at this time of the year, LSU isn’t already 75 percent of the way to the finish line. If we were at the midway point, there would be a lot more possibilities to lay out in answering this question. However, let’s get creative.
In having 20 commitments, there are some “steals” already committed in the 2017 class — JaCoby Stevens and Tyler Shelvin, for example — but LSU’s class is littered with some lower-rated prospects who offer major upside.
Here are a few of my favorite “steals” already in the class:
- Myles Brennan
- Saahdiq Charles
- Neil Farrell
- Justin Thomas
- Aaron Moffitt
- Seth Stewart
Think about this: Brennan is a 3-star pro-style passer, but nearly won the quarterback competition at Nike’s “The Opening” Finals in Oregon. At LSU’s June camp, he spun it better than anyone else around. He’s got a great football IQ and an even better work ethic.
Charles also is a hard worker, played tight end, offensive line and defensive line for his Mississippi high school and will be a valuable asset for offensive line coach Jeff Grimes in the future. Moffitt is a jack of all trades for Catholic High (Baton Rouge, La.), and my gut tells me that the elite defensive end will wind up playing tight end for the Tigers.
Look at Stewart, who going into his senior year is 6-foot-8 and 320 pounds. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar with prospects like Adrian Ealy still uncommitted. Grimes can transform Stewart into a stalwart along the offensive line.
Thomas and Farrell are LSU’s “surprise” defensive line commits. Based on film, both are severely underrated. Thomas is entering his second year as a starter, so I expect that he’ll be a 4-star midway through the fall. Other recruiting junkies label Farrell as a defensive tackle, but he’s a 3-4 end, and a dominant one. These are pieces that under Ed Orgeron can reach their high ceilings.
But those are easy. LSU has those guys in the bag. Who else could be “steals” in the 2017 class?
- Racey McMath
- Amik Robertson
McMath earned an LSU offer after dominating the June prospect camp. He clocked a 4.4-second 40 and was a thorn in the side of every defensive back that tried to shadow him. He’s 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds and looks SEC ready. He’s rated as a 3-star in the 247Sports Composite rankings, but based on his physicality and production should be a 4-star. He’ll get there by the end of the fall once he dominates one of Louisiana’s toughest football districts.
Robertson also is a 3-star, but there may not be a better two-way athlete in Louisiana. The Thibodaux High School standout proved his forte is as a defensive back during LSU’s July prospect camp, distinguishing himself as the top cornerback in attendance. Defensive backs coach Corey Raymond and Orgeron, the area recruiter, are huge fans. Whether Robertson slips into the 2017 class remains up in the air, but perhaps nobody fits the “steal” label better.
Any info on the Swilling brothers? I would have expected them to go to college together, but LSU’s DB board seems full. (@Johsc24)
There still is a consensus feeling that Bruce Jordan-Swilling and Tre’ Swilling will go to college together. Neither seems set on finalizing a decision at this juncture in their recruitment, and later in the fall and closer to National Signing Day seems to be the new target date.
If the two remain focused on attending the same college, LSU would join Southern Cal and Alabama as the top destinations. All three of those college football powers have offered both brothers, as have Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas and their father’s alma mater, Georgia Tech.
I consider Oklahoma as the biggest threat to break up that bond, with the Sooners making a strong push for Bruce. Mississippi State and Texas A&M have also caught the attention of Tre’.
LSU is courting Bruce as both a running back and a linebacker, and I anticipate it makes a push at running back this fall. The team also holds four defensive back commitments (Kary Vincent Jr., JaCoby Stevens, Grant Delpit, Jontre Kirklin), but there’s still room for one more.
Four-star Plaquemine (La.) High School safety Todd Harris fits the bill, as the Tigers are trying to haul in three safeties. Keep in mind that Rickey Jefferson and Jamal Adams both will be gone after this season. Alabama is making a strong push to poach Harris, but Swilling can play cornerback or safety, and could easily be a third safety for LSU.
It’s also feasible to think LSU would take the Swilling brothers and adjust accordingly. The team will lose corners Tre’Davious White and Dwayne Thomas from the secondary and Leonard Fournette in the backfield. The Swillings could help replenish the team’s depth at both crucial spots.
Do you think Amik Robertson gets in the class? (@Tyler_Capone)
This a loaded question, and I wish the answer could be simply “yes” or “no.”
LSU’s class is already up to 20 commitments, and as we just alluded to, the defensive back haul is nearly complete. With Stevens, Vincent, Delpit and Kirklin, the team has room for one more safety or cornerback. Harris sits atop that list and Swilling is close behind. But Robertson is most definitely on the LSU coaches’ radar after wowing them at the July prospect camp.
Robertson, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound defensive back, competed at the elite camp immediately after earning clearance from a torn ACL. The modern day version of the “Honey Badger” impressed, too, taking claim as the most dominant and competitive cornerback in attendance.
The Thibodaux, La., product competed on Friday and Saturday, then met with the LSU coaches for nearly two hours before staying for the team barbecue. Raymond and Orgeron spent time with Robertson, and both coaches plan on monitoring the cornerback this fall. There is good reason to believe that Orgeron wants Robertson in this class, though right now, there are some arrangements that still need to be sorted out.
If LSU loses out on Harris and Swilling, Robertson will be next in line to earn an offer. The coaching staff loves his intensity, his skill set and his style of play. But with so many offers out and dominoes needing to fall first, the staff held back on extending the offer last month. He’s certainly a prospect worth monitoring into the fall depending on what transpires with LSU’s defensive back board.
Would K.J. Malone locking down the LT job be the ideal that LSU coaches want to see in order to get the best starting five on the field? (Deric Hunt on Facebook)
If I could get in Jeff Grimes’ mind, I’d imagine the ideal situation is having Malone as his swing tackle for 2016. That would open the door for Malone to back up Maea Teuhema — making his debut at left tackle — and Toby Weathersby, who’s doing the same on the right side.
Malone certainly will push for a guard spot, too, as will Teuhema. But I expect William Clapp to keep his post on the right side, leaving Josh Boutte to man the left side. Ethan Pocic, of course, is the stalwart in the center of the Tigers’ offensive line.
In other words, here’s a quick look at what I imagine will be LSU’s starting five linemen:
- LT: Maea Teuhema
- LG: Josh Boutte
- C: Ethan Pocic
- RG: William Clapp
- RT: Toby Weathersby
Malone will contend for a starting tackle or guard spot, and if he’s successful, that could force a complete re-shuffling of the line. Malone, Teuhema and Weathersby are three major X-factors that are capable of playing — and excelling — at multiple spots along the offensive line.
For argument’s sake, if Malone can beat out Teuhema for the left tackle job, then here’s a glimpse of how the Tigers could look up front:
- LT: K.J. Malone
- LG: Maea Teuhema
- C: Ethan Pocic
- RG: William Clapp:
- RT: Toby Weathersby
That would leave Boutte on the outside looking in. Like Malone was in the first scenario, he can be a valuable backup for Teuhema and Clapp at the interior line spots.
In fall camp, sophomore guard Garrett Brumfield and freshmen Lloyd Cushenberry and Donavaughn Campbell have earned rave reviews from the coaching staff. No matter how the starting five shakes out, I’d count on one of those newcomers to have an impact, whether it’s pushing for a job in camp or earning a spot in the rotation. Regardless, LSU’s future offensive line appears to be in very good shape.
Will Lowell Narcisse or Myles Brennan be an early enrollee? (Marquis Robinson on Facebook)
You can count on Narcisse being an early enrollee. The 4-star dual-threat quarterback is well on track to graduate early from St. James (La.) High School and will report to campus soon after National Signing Day and participate in LSU’s spring practices next March.
Brennan’s situation is a little bit more up in the air.
The 3-star pro-style passer has some sorting out to do. Not many athletes from St. Stanislaus (Bay Saint Louis, Miss.) graduate early and enroll at colleges, so it remains a bit of an obstacle for Brennan at this juncture. He’s looking into it, but at this time, I’d say it’s probably unlikely.
There’s already a high number of other LSU commits expected to join Narcisse as early enrollees. 5-star tackle Austin Deculus, 5-star safety JaCoby Stevens, 4-star safety Grant Delpit, 4-star guard Edward Ingram, 4-star linebacker Patrick Queen, 4-star wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon, 4-star wide receiver Mannie Netherly and 3-star wide receiver Stephen Guidry are all expected to join LSU for the spring. That’s nine, which would be the largest haul of early enrollees in the Les Miles era.
Two of LSU’s other primary targets, 5-star defensive lineman Marvin Wilson and 5-star outside linebacker Dylan Moses, are also expected to enroll early at whatever university they land at. If it’s LSU, that’s a double-digit haul for the Tigers following what should be a riveting signing day on Feb. 1.
25 or 27 scholarships in this class and who fills them? (Paul Ferrer on Facebook)
In a previous mailbag, I did my best to project LSU’s class. Here’s what I came up with.
Here’s what you need to know about 27-man projection:
- Division I teams get a maximum of 25 signees per recruiting class
- Other factors that get taken into account: early enrollees, scholarships lost
- So, LSU could lose upwards of 19 scholarships after the ’16 season (15 seniors, four potential NFL draftees)
- Based on the 2016 roster, there are 58 returning scholarship athletes.
- With 85 allotted scholarships minus 58 returning scholarships, that leaves 27 available for the signing class
LSU currently holds 20 commitments, leaving room for at least seven more. That could includ another running back or wide receiver and possibly a tight end. There’s also going to be a big defensive haul with upwards of two defensive linemen, three linebackers and maybe even two more defensive backs.
Depending on how LSU fares with that second back or fourth receiver or flipping a tight end, it could devote even more attention to padding depth on defense.
For argument’s sake, here’s my best guess for the remaining seven signees:
- Marvin Wilson, 5-star DT
- Isaiah Buggs, 4-star WDE
- Dylan Moses, 5-star OLB
- Christopher Allen, 4-star OLB
- K’Lavon Chaisson, 4-star OLB
- Todd Harris, 4-star S
- Racey McMath, 3-star WR
A lot can happen between now and National Signing Day, so expect a lot of peaks and valleys with many of LSU’s remaining targets.
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 Tiger Stadium.