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.
College football’s regular season is in the rear-view mirror and a new LSU coach is in place as we move into the fourth quarter of the recruiting cycle.
So, what’s next? Let’s take a look:
Any chance that LSU is able to get Lowell Narcisse back with the hire of an OC? (@scottcollie1)
There is certainly a chance that LSU can bring Narcisse back in this class, Scott. The first step was hiring an offensive coordinator.
A very big part of the reason Narcisse de-committed is because of the uncertainty surrounding LSU’s offense. Sure, Ed Orgeron has outlined what he wants out of his quarterbacks and scheme, but he has waffled back and forth about pro-style and dual-threat quarterbacks. After a while, it became difficult for Narcisse — the nation’s No. 8 dual-threat quarterback — to believe what the coaches were telling him.
Now that Matt Canada has been tabbed as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, expect him to be in touch with Narcisse almost immediately. After all, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder is an early enrollee and will make a decision at the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 1, so there isn’t much time for him to wait.
Narcisse informed SEC Country that he plans to watch film of Canada’s offenses at Pitt and N.C. State starting this week. As of Wednesday morning — when Canada was named the coordinator — Narcisse had not been in touch with the coach … at least yet.
LSU, Auburn and Memphis are Narcisse’s three finalists. He knows what style of offense he can expect in the Plains. The same goes for Memphis, but LSU — that remains a bit of a mystery. Narcisse and his family will do their homework and determine if Canada’s offense will be a fit for his skill-set, and then likely communicate with the offensive coordinator, Dameyune Craig, Jabbar Juluke and Orgeron through social media to discuss it all.
LSU was quick to make a hire, which betters its chances of bringing Narcisse back into the fold.
What’s the likelihood of LSU picking up the official commitment from Narcisse? (@NickolaiEnt)
LSU just tabbed Matt Canada to be the offensive coordinator. That was the first step in LSU’s attempt to lure Narcisse back.
I expect Narcisse to be a fan of Canada and his resume, not to mention the fact that his offenses have been explosive and have revolved around dual-threat quarterbacks.
We will see how much progress Canada, Juluke and Craig can make with Narcisse in a short amount of time, but I do think familiarity with LSU and proximity to home will play a factor. After all, Narcisse only visited LSU this fall before his official visits to Memphis and Auburn, and he has tremendous relationships with the current staff.
As I said, how well Canada is able to sell Narcisse on his offense is paramount. That’s the X-factor here. But now that the hire has been made, I’ll certainly give LSU an edge.
Here’s how I see it:
- LSU: 45 percent. For all of the factors above. He just needed some assurance that he was walking into a good position.
- Auburn: 30 percent. He’s been committed there before, but does he want to come in along with 5-star transfer Jared Stidham?
- Memphis: 25 percent. Kind of an off-the-wall guess here, but there are tremendous Louisiana recruiters on that staff. Memphis is a dark horse, but don’t forget about them.
How will LSU’s recruits react to Matt Canada as the OC hire? Is he a good recruiter? (phil5060)
Well, Canada’s offense at Pitt averaged 42.3 points per game. That’s the school’s highest average … ever.
And that’s what I think about Canada from a recruiting standpoint — I don’t believe he can recruit with the likes of Orgeron or Craig or Corey Raymond. I look at him in the same light as Dave Aranda — that his body of work speaks for itself and that he can sell you his offenses with that.
To be completely honest, Lane Kiffin isn’t a fantastic recruiter. Neither was Cam Cameron. Coordinators don’t tend to have that reputation.
They do, however, need to be proven at their crafts. Aranda certainly did that last year in his first season with the Tigers, making his recruiting pitches short and sweet.
With Canada now the OC, any predictions on who’s playing QB in 2017? (@GettemLeak_)
You have to believe that Danny Etling will enter spring camp No. 1 because of his experience under center last season.
My question is if Brandon Harris remains on the roster, will Canada deem Harris a better fit for his offense. That remains to be seen, as there are a lot of moving pieces in that scenario.
Additionally, if LSU can bring Narcisse back into the fold, he should compete for the job as well. In fact, with a new offense in place, there will very likely be an open competition beginning this spring between Etling, Harris and Narcisse, if in fact he re-commits to LSU.
For now, though, the safe choice is Etling. He isn’t a dual-threat, but Canada uses the personnel in place. Of course, that also means that the best overall quarterback will start come September, and the offense will adjust accordingly.
Do you think LSU will make a strong finish to the class come National Signing Day? (@lsuboi91)
The pieces are in place to …
LSU has a host of blue-chip prospects who will announce between Jan. 1 and Feb. 1. That includes:
- 4-star DL Phidarian Mathis
- 4-star S Todd Harris
- 3-star WR Racey McMath
- 4-star WR DeVonta Smith
- 4-star WR Nico Collins
- 4-star DE/OLB K’Lavon Chaisson
- 4-star OLB Levi Jones
- 5-star DT Marvin Wilson
That was a lot, but several of LSU’s remaining spots won’t be filled until the 23rd hour of the recruiting cycle.
As it stands now, LSU holds 18 commits. Top offensive targets like Narcisse will decide on Jan. 1 and Cam Akers before the U.S. Army Bowl in early January. The priority wide receiver targets, defensive linemen, linebackers and safety are all holding out until National Signing Day.
LSU is in a strong position with most, but when it comes to late decisions, it can be hard at times to get a good gauge on the situation.
My guess: LSU lands two of those linemen, another linebacker, two of the three wide receivers and Harris. That would make for a very strong finish, if you ask me.
Does LSU have a chance for Cam Akers, Marvin Wilson and DeVonta Smith? If so, who do you think we get out of the three? (@byron_overley)
Yes, LSU has a very good shot with all three of those recruits.
Akers, the 5-star running back from Clinton (Miss.), told reporters last week he has a top three, but would not release it. By default, it’s between LSU, Ole Miss, Florida State and Ohio State. Perhaps Tennessee and Georgia are still in the mix.
Akers will decide between now and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7. He’s an early enrollee, so soon after he finalizes his plans, he’ll be on a college campus.
There is a sense that Akers has some doubts about LSU. He is unsure whether his primary recruiter, Juluke, will remain on the staff beyond the bowl game. Orgeron has maintained that he will evaluate his coaching staff after LSU plays Louisville on New Year’s Eve. There is also some uncertainty about the offense that is going to be installed, so like Narcisse, Akers is in a wait-and-see mode.
Either way, the chance to play early and split carries with Derrius Guice makes LSU a very likely landing spot for the 5-star back.
LSU has gained a lot of steam with Wilson since Orgeron was named the full-time head coach. Orgeron was Wilson’s primary recruiter as the defensive line coach, and it’s known that Wilson and Orgeron boast a fantastic relationship.
Orgeron lured Wilson onto campus for an unofficial visit for the Florida game and went in-home with the 5-star defensive tackle twice during the NCAA’s Contact Period. Next up will be trying to get Wilson back to Baton Rouge for one of his final official visits.
Because it’s Orgeron, because it’s a top-flight defensive lineman and because of the shakeup at Texas, I expect Wilson to announce his commitment to LSU on National Signing Day.
Smith is a difficult prospect to read. He wants to play early and in a proven passing offense.
The 4-star wide receiver from Amite (La.) High remains high on the Tigers because of Orgeron. He was a fan of the hire and believes LSU improved after the coaching change. That, plus he and Craig have a strong relationship, where many of the promises the wide receivers coach has made have come to fruition.
It’s likely an LSU-Alabama race, but TCU, Miami and even Oklahoma have stuck around. LSU has one wide receiver commit in Mannie Netherly, while Alabama has two with several more also in the loop. The Tigers have quietly gained steam, but they’ll need to get Smith to officially visit. If and when that’s the case, then I’d lean toward LSU.
If we miss on Cam Akers, are there other ’17 recruits we’d go after? Or what about the ’18 class? (@JonDale22)
Great question, Jon.
Because quarterback, receiver, linebacker and defensive linemen are the major positions of need in 2017, LSU is putting all of its eggs in the Akers basket … for now.
Akers is an early enrollee, so if LSU misses on the 5-star back, then it could shift its attention to other in-state prospects like 3-star Travis Etienne. However, I don’t consider that a very likely scenario. After all, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is firmly entrenched in the Tigers’ 2017 class, so another back will be added to the roster by February.
Instead, I think LSU would load up in the 2018 class, and that is a fantastic class in terms of running back talent.
The Tigers have offered a handful of all-purpose backs such as Jaelen Gill, Shaun Shivers (Auburn commit) and Jalen Patterson (Miami commit), as well as more prototypical running backs such as Zamir White, James Cook (Florida State commit), Markese Stepp (Notre Dame commit), Jamal Elliott and Asa Martin.
Another name to keep in mind is 5-star Fabian Franklin out of Mississippi.
Martin said LSU was among his top schools this fall. His former IMG teammate Grant Delpit was recruiting him to Baton Rouge after he landed the offer. Ole Miss and Tennessee are the biggest threats for the 4-star back.
Franklin, a 5-foot-11, 200-pounder out of Hattiesburg (Miss.) High visited LSU in July. He’s the top-rated prospect from Mississippi and No. 4 overall back in the 2018 class. He has yet to land an offer from LSU since the team has maintained its focus on Akers for now. If Akers winds up at Ole Miss or Florida State, then expect LSU to quickly offer Franklin and, perhaps, receive an instant commitment.
In summary, if LSU takes Akers and Edwards-Helaire in 2017, expect a one-back class next year. If it takes only Edwards-Helaire this cycle, then expect a two- or maybe three-back class in 2018.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
Follow Sam Spiegelman on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tiger Stadium.