Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly mailbag, a question-and-answer forum between readers and LSU team and recruiting reporter Sam Spiegelman.
In this edition, we touch on which wide receivers and running backs will find their way into LSU’s 2018 recruiting class, whether Lane Kiffin was right or wrong to offer a 2022 quarterback and if 2017 signee Kary Vincent Jr. will play right away.
To submit a question for Spiegelman, send a message to @SamSpiegs on Twitter or email it to email@example.com.
If you had to predict, who do you think LSU ends up with at WR at this point? (@MatthewStrahan3)
After a very eventful 72 hours, we are beginning to get a bigger clue as to how this 2018 receiving class will look at the wide receiver position.
Additionally, former Texas Tech wide receiver and Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Jonathan Giles announced his intent to transfer to LSU. Giles must sit out the 2017 season but will be eligible to play in 2018. His commitment will count against the 2017 signing class, which lowers the Tigers’ 2018 scholarship total to 26.
As expected, that should result in one fewer wide receiver taken this cycle.
With both Jenkins and Jones on board, it’s likely that LSU takes two more receivers to round out the 2018 class. My picks are 5-star Terrace Marshall Jr. and 4-star Lawrence Keys III. With those two in, that leaves 4-star Ja’Marr Chase and 3-star Jammal Houston on the outside looking in. LSU would love to land Chase, but he is weighing the in-state Tigers against 36 out-of-state options. Houston did not receive medical clearance and must return to the doctors in July, which could make for a messy situation down the line.
Marshall will name a final six on June 9. LSU will make the cut, but in order to take the lead the team must impress on offense. One thing to watch: how D.J. Chark fares as the No. 1 receiving option. After all, that’s what LSU is selling Marshall on.
Keys named LSU his leading school earlier this month. The speedy 4-star wideout is also an option in the slot. He could complement Giles and give the Tigers another option on the inside once Russell Gage and Derrick Dillon move on.
Which 2 RB do you see LSU signing in 2018? (@LSUSteve1)
Joiner recently released a top 12 with a decision coming likely this summer or early in the fall, but not all of said offers are at running back. At 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, Joiner has offers as an athlete. Joiner had a growth spurt before his junior football season. If that trend repeats before his senior year, he could grow to 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5, making him a bit too tall to stay at tailback.
However, if Joiner doesn’t growing taller, he’ll likely wind up at LSU. LSU’s staff has been pushing Joiner the hardest and has informed him that he’s a priority target in the 2018 recruiting class. With Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams entering their final seasons in Baton Rouge, Joiner could be in a prime position to earn playing time.
Franklin does not hold an offer from LSU just yet. LSU general manager Austin Thomas was in Hattiesburg, Miss., twice this spring to see the 4-star back, most recently on Monday for his spring game. Franklin is in the process of raising his grades and will take the ACT again in June, which should provide an all-important progress update on whether he will qualify. Observers in the Mississippi believe he is on track to do so.
Even without an offer, Franklin named LSU as his leading school. He grew up a Tigers fan and is eagerly waiting for an offer. When an offer is made, Franklin — who is receiving in-state treatment from the coaching staff — is a candidate to commit on the spot.
Lane Kiffin recently offered a 13-year-old. Granting offers to 13- and 14-year-olds has been a hot topic. Your thoughts? (@RyanMicklin61)
As a recruiting reporter, I sometimes have to catch my breath when we begin to dissect the recruitment of 2020 prospects. I can think of a handful that I have evaluated or interviewed in person, because yes, LSU and several other nationally relevant programs prefer to offer this early in the process to get a leg up on elite talent.
With that being said, the recruit of note is 2022 quarterback Kaden Martin, the son of former Tennessee national championship-winning quarterback Tee Martin, who happens to be an assistant on the Southern Cal coaching staff. Remember, Kiffin once coached at Tennessee and USC, y’all. Kiffin offered Martin on Monday, which naturally created headlines all over the country.
The younger Martin is in middle school. The last middle-school recruit I can recall landing offers and making headlines was Dylan Moses, a former 5-star athlete who is now a freshman linebacker at Alabama. I imagine LSU fans remember that saga all too well.
Instead of delving into Kiffin’s logic in making this offer, let’s remember that Florida Atlantic’s first-year coach created a 1980s-esque TV infomercial to get his school’s name out there. This is another publicity stunt. Kiffin is offering the son of a big-name quarterback who is 13 years old. Maybe this kid will be an elite passer one day. Who knows? But Kiffin accomplished what he set out to do, and that’s bring attention to himself and Florida Atlantic.
Now to get back to your original question, Ryan. I am not opposed to coaches offering recruits when they are 13 or 14 years old. Moses was an eighth-grader when Les Miles made an offer to the Baton Rouge native. Moses turned out to be an elite talent and a top-10 prospect in the 2017 recruiting class, so Miles was right to trust his gut.
Because I am not Lane Kiffin, I can’t say whether he believes Martin will become a mega-talent or he wanted to put Florida Atlantic in the headlines during a quiet period in the college football news cycle. My gut says it’s the latter, but who knows, right?
Maybe down the road Martin will procure offers from LSU, Alabama, Tennessee, Southern Cal, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, so on and so forth. Maybe by the time the 2022 recruit is poised to make a decision, Kiffin will be at one of said programs after a ton of success with the Owls, which bolsters the coach’s chances of landing Martin then.
I’m not opposed to this, but I’d prefer it is done for the right reasons. That’s all.
What do you think of Kary Vincent’s chances of playing the nickel? (@GeauxTigersTO)
I think those chances are good. No, excuse me. I think they’re great.
In Dave Aranda’s defense, the nickel is a signature component. Last year, LSU’s top corner, Tre’Davious White, manned the nickel before shifting outside — at times — for Dwayne Thomas, who was subtly awesome in that role.
During spring practice, Xavier Lewis started at nickel ahead of former 5-star corner Kristian Fulton. To excel in that spot, the defensive back must be physical to aid in run defense, but also quick enough to cover some of the fastest wide receivers that opposing offenses will put inside.
Lewis is uber-physical. Fulton is an elite cover corner. Kary Vincent Jr. combines both traits.
We have heard rumblings for months that secondary coach Corey Raymond is eager to get Vincent on campus to see how he fares in the nickel. Vincent has Texas state championship track speed, but we saw at the Under Armour All-America Game last December that his speed also translates to coverage skills. Because of his size, speed and physical nature, he’s an ideal fit to slide into the nickel with Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver II manning the outside cornerback positions.
What’s the RB board looking like? (@tankthompson02)
LSU has extended a bevy of out-of-state offers to tailbacks this spring. Some of the best from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Texas and even Ohio landed offers from the Tigers.
After a spring full of evaluation, here’s a brief overview of the LSU running back board. Note: Those who do not hold offers are not included. More on that later. All star rankings are, as always, from the 247Sports composite.
- Harold Joiner, 4-star (Birmingham, Ala.)
- James Cook, 5-star (Miami, Fla.) *Florida State commit
- Zamir White, 5-star (Laurinburg, N.C.)
- Chris Curry, 3-star (Lehigh Acres, Fla.)
- Slade Bolden, 3-star (West Monroe, La.)
- Tavion Thomas, 3-star (Dunbar, Ohio)
- Tae Provens, 3-star (Gurley, Ala.)
- Keaontay Ingram, 4-star (Carthage, Texas)
LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada went to visit White this spring. Cook named LSU as a legitimate contender but failed to attend the spring game. If and when he visits Baton Rouge this summer, expect the interest to kick up.
Curry, Bolden and Provens all visited LSU on various occasions this spring. Ingram and Thomas could follow suit this summer but are more connected to schools elsewhere.
Canada and running backs coach Tommie Robinson have begun to evaluate in-state running backs as well. While no offers have been allotted — with the exception of Bolden (as an athlete) — the staff will have several at prospect camp in June.
Here’s a list of the backs that LSU is evaluating (without offers).
- Fabian Franklin, 4-star (Hattiesburg, Miss.)
- Tony St. Julien, 4-star (Vinton, La.)
- Devin Brumfield, 3-star (Covington, La.)
- Jeremy Gibson, 3-star (Reserve, La.)
- AJ Carter, 3-star (Many, La.) *UCLA commit
Like the case with Franklin, an offer to many of these in-state running backs would likely result in a boom. LSU is taking a slower approach to try and bring in an out-of-state back first, and then round out the class with a second back, likely from Louisiana.
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