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:
Hey, Sam, do you expect LSU recruiting to be busy during the holidays and who do you think will be the next commitment for LSU? (@phil5060)
That certainly depends what you classify as busy, Phil, but there could be some news around that time of the year.
LSU has room for one more early enrollee. Let’s not be coy about who that prospect might be. I’m, of course, talking about 5-star running back Cam Akers.
When it comes to the holidays, I don’t anticipate too much action. After all, in the past 10 days, LSU has landed three commitments from wide receiver Stephen Guidry, quarterback Lowell Narcisse and linebacker Monty Rice. The latter two are early enrollees along with safeties JaCoby Stevens and Grant Delpit, wide receiver Mannie Netherly and offensive linemen Edward Ingram and Austin Deculus.
LSU has one spot waiting for Akers, who recently set Dec. 27 as his commitment date. As expected, LSU is one of his finalists.
So, Phil, with the 27th as the big day, don’t worry about going too overboard on the eggnog this Christmas weekend.
Do you think LSU retains Jabbar Juluke? (@covwhodat)
I think LSU does.
For one, there has been no shortage of support for Juluke from his collection of running backs, including Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice, who continually praise him for his coaching style.
We all got a glimpse of what Juluke can do. After all, No. 7 was hobbled for much of the season, and there was zero drop-off in LSU’s running game. Guice and Darrel Williams are talented, but for the rushing attack not to regress at all is something else — something highly commendable.
Then, there’s his impact on recruiting.
Ed Orgeron would be hard-pressed to find a better New Orleans-area recruiter than Juluke. He hails from New Orleans, he’s coached in New Orleans, and to some, he truly embodies the city. That certainly resonates with a lot of the prospects there, which usually tends to be a pipeline right up Interstate 10 west to LSU.
The former Edna Karr (La.) state championship-winning coach also is responsible for recruiting running backs and has put in the work. Juluke has a tremendous relationship with 3-star RB commit Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He’s Akers’ primary recruiter and has forged backup plans with in-state prospects including Travis Etienne. He’s done the same with running backs in the 2018 and 2019 classes, too.
If a change was coming — for whatever reason — it already would have happened. Barring a major whiff in the recruiting circuit or something unprecedented, I expect Juluke to be on LSU’s coaching staff in 2017.
Matt Canada likes to run the jet sweep and a lot of plays off that, but we don’t have a short, quick explosive player like that on our team. Can D.J. Chark do it? Or who do you think Canada is planning to use for that? (@M_George5)
That’s a great observation about one of Canada’s patented plays.
At Pitt, Canada’s play call would include power-run plays with James Conner, then complement that with jet sweeps with guys including Quadree Henderson. In other words, Conner is a 6-foot-2, 235-pound bruiser, while Henderson is a 5-8, 190-pound speedster. Got it.
By the way, Henderson became a consensus All-American thanks to Canada’s jet sweep.
Of course, Chark is a 6-3, 187-pound wide receiver, and there’s no guarantee that the junior is even on the roster next season. Assuming he is, though, I don’t think he fits the bill as the ideal spark plug for the jet sweep.
But what about these guys?
- WR Derrick Dillon, 5-11, 181 pounds
- WR Russell Gage, 6-foot, 179 pounds
- CB Donte Jackson, 5-11, 173 pounds
- CB Kary Vincent Jr., 5-11, 170 pounds
- RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 5-7,
For one, Dillon and Gage fit the physical parameters. The only question would be whether they are quick enough around the edge to be effective in the jet sweep.
If speed is the question, then Jackson might be the man for the job. He’s arguably the fastest player in college football, and I don’t think the LSU coaches would worry about putting the ball in his hands.
For argument’s sake, I threw a pair of recruits in the mix, too. Vincent runs a 4.29-second 40 and is a Texas state high school champion. He scored 3 offensive touchdowns last season for Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial and most of the time is the most dynamic athlete on the field. Then there’s Edwards-Helaire, who is quick but adds some power to the position. The 3-star back runs a 4.37-second 40, and Canada already has spoken to him about finding creative ways to take advantage of his skill set.
Percentage of LSU getting Smith, Akers, Wilson? And which linebackers do we close out with? (@lsuboi91)
Since it’s that time of the year, I’ll be generous. If it’s percentages you want, it’s percentages you shall get.
DeVonta Smith: The 4-star wideout from Amite (La.) High officially will visit LSU, Alabama and Miami next month. He still is getting courted by TCU and Oklahoma. LSU, Alabama and Miami were his finalists when he originally planned to commit in August. The interesting twist is that Alabama may not have enough room for Smith come National Signing Day. That would depend on which other big-chippers the Tide land between now and Feb. 1. LSU quietly has gained steam since the fall thanks to Orgeron being named coach and Canada taking over as the offensive coordinator. 45 percent to LSU
Cam Akers: A decision is nearing for the 5-star Mississippi running back, but I’ve heard some conflicting things about where he’ll end up. Florida State has emerged as a favorite, but sources close to Akers don’t believe he’d be comfortable being that far away from home. Ole Miss is certainly a candidate, but with the NCAA punishment looming, it’s a question of whether Akers wants to be a part of that program. Then there’s LSU, which thanks to Juluke and two in-home visits from Orgeron, is right in the thick of it. Akers had concerns about the lack of an offensive coordinator during a visit in the contact period, but those likely are quelled thanks to Canada. 50 percent to LSU.
Marvin Wilson: Wilson has been Orgeron’s guy for a year. Though there have been peaks and valleys in the 5-star tackle’s recruitment since then, Orgeron has remained a steady presence. Wilson visited for the Florida game, then Orgeron went in-home with him twice earlier this month. Wilson will release his final five at the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 1, and I expect the Tigers to make the cut. Texas A&M, Florida State and Ohio State also likely will be in that, so the question then becomes if Wilson will take one of his remaining officials to LSU in January. If so, it bodes well for LSU’s chances. 60 percent to LSU.
As far as which linebackers LSU ends up with, two of the three spots already have been filled.
Patrick Queen, the 4-star from Livonia (La.) High, will play the ROVER spot, a combination of outside linebacker and safety, but potentially could slide inside, if he elects to. That likely will be his call come fall camp.
LSU picked up 3-star Alabama inside linebacker Monty Rice early last week. An underrated talent, Rice led James Clemens (Ala.) High in tackles and scored 4 defensive touchdowns. He’ll add some much-needed depth behind presumptive starting inside backers Devin White and either Donnie Alexander, Michael Divinity or Ray Thornton.
When Dylan Moses and Christopher Allen were among the linebackers still on LSU’s board, I felt the team could nab four prospects at the position in 2017. Three is a more realistic number now, and the need is for an edge rusher. K’Lavon Chaisson and Levi Jones are the two names to keep an eye on down the stretch.
Chaisson is being courted heavily by Texas now that Tom Herman is leading the charge. Jones was down to LSU and Texas before Charlie Strong got shown the door. Texas A&M since has replaced Texas in Jones’ top two. Both will officially visit next month.
At this time, odds may be long for LSU’s chances for each prospect. But given the need and Dave Aranda on the trail … 25 percent Chaisson to LSU, 40 percent Jones to LSU.
Will you be celebrating Festivus? (@Drew_11)
Drew, Festivus is my heritage. Of course, I’ll celebrate.
There’s just so much going on between Hanukkah and Christmas, even Kwanzaa. So much commercializing and emphasis on gifts and giving. What about airing our grievances and wrestling our fathers?
And you know, so many families stress out about Christmas trees and ornaments, and in the brutal cold, we’re forced to hang Christmas lights. If you wait too long to take them down, you’re ripped again.
So tell me why an aluminum Festivus pole isn’t a better solution.
I can assure you that I’ve watched The Strike episode of Seinfeld quite a few times already in the fall. That theme will continue into the Christmas weekend — and likely beyond. I really just can’t get enough of it, particularly when George gets confronted about the Human Fund and Kramer’s revenge attacks on the bagel shop.
That’s classic stuff, Drew.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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