Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly mailbag, a question-and-answer forum between readers and LSU team and recruiting reporter Sam Spiegelman.
Do you think we land Anthony Cook
— Deric T (@dathompson02) December 5, 2017
It’s a 50-50 possibility between LSU and Texas. That was the sense I got after spending October in Houston with Anthony Cook. All indications are that the postponed decision timeline only works in the Tigers’ favor.
The 247Sports Crystal Ball is loaded with Texas picks, but I’ve held steady to mine for LSU. Both Texas and LSU have pushed the idea of coming in and playing early, and with underclassmen Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver both expected to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft, I believe Cook sees the depth chart at LSU more clearly.
It’s worth noting that Cook is not easily influenced by those around him. It is easy to see why many experts have the Longhorns as the team to beat. He has teammates and close friends committed to Texas, but my take is that Cook remains focused on what’s best for him individually, which lends itself to LSU’s reputation of churning out NFL-caliber defensive backs and an opportunity to shine on a grand college football stage.
Since the 5-star cornerback officially visited on the Oct. 14 weekend, sources at LSU have maintained a cautious optimism. That has remained the case as defensive backs coach Corey Raymond has continued to make Cook a priority over the subsequent six weeks. At this point, it is likely a coin flip between Texas and LSU as Cook weighs the opportunity to play for his in-state school versus playing early in Baton Rouge, where he believes he can develop into a better player.
6 scholarships left… Who do we end up getting.
— LSU (9-3) (@YungPoseidon) December 5, 2017
It’s seven, but I get that this call for mailbag questions came in the minutes right before 3-star Georgia defensive lineman Ja’Quan Griffin reopened his recruitment.
With that said, here is my latest projected class with uncommitted recruits in bold.
- QB: Justin Rogers
- RB: Chris Curry, Tae Provens, Harold Joiner Jr.
- WR: Kenan Jones, Jaray Jenkins, Terrace Marshall Jr., Justin Watkins
- H-Back: Zach Sheffer
- TE: Glenn Beal
- OL: Cameron Wire, Cole Smith, Damien Lewis, Badara Traore
- DL: Davin Cotton, Chasen Hines, Nelson Jenkins, Dare Rosenthal, Dantrieze Scott, Jarell Cherry, Travez Moore
- LB: Micah Baskerville, Damone Clark
- DB: Ar’Darius Washington, Patrick Surtain Jr., Kelvin Joseph
Name one croot we haven't heard much about that could land in this class and why.
— BawFromTheBoot (@GeauxEdits) December 5, 2017
It has to be Michael Williams.
Williams, ranked as a 3-star athlete and just outside the top 40 in Louisiana for the 2018 class, is going to be a development player if and when he arrives at LSU. By the way, he has told SEC Country on numerous occasions that LSU and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda are recruiting him the hardest.
The 6-foot-2, 260-pound prospect is an athlete but worked out as defensive end for Aranda during a June prospect camp. He played part time there his senior season for Dunham High School (La.), but as he continues to add strength and gains a better understanding of the position, I believe he could really shine there.
LSU has been working hard to recruit for a 3-4 front and Williams is a great fit at a 5-technique. In 2018, LSU should pull in bigger names at defensive end such as Cotton, Jenkins and Rosenthal, but Williams — a likely late addition — could wind up being a key contributor in a few years.
Do you think all Lsu commitments sign in Dec? And for the commitments that don't sign in Dec. Do they Decommit or will Lsu wait until Feb. To sign them?
— philip rose (@phil5060) December 5, 2017
Not all will sign. In fact, I will touch on this more in my recruiting notebook on Thursday.
The majority, however, will put pen to paper on Dec. 20, the first day of the early signing period. If one or two, as projected, do not, it will be interesting to see what happens then.
In his postgame press conference after the 45-21 defeat of Texas A&M, coach Ed Orgeron said some scholarships may be pulled when Dec. 20 arrives. That remains to be seen. Of course, if a current LSU verbal commit is not willing to sign his letter of intent when the early signing period arrives, LSU’s staff may deem that as an indication of their level of commitment.
The staff may be willing to let those commitments make rival visits. It could be willing to wait it out. However, the staff could explore other options at the position in case of a late flip or opt to pull the scholarship. It depends on who the recruit is and what insight the coaches have received during their spree of in-home visits throughout December.
What’s your take on O endorsing Canada for a HC job and would Hugh Freeze be a OC candidate if Canada left?
— Harold Woods⚜️ (@Hdillydilly) December 5, 2017
Well, from what I understand, the only way that LSU would not be responsible for paying Matt Canada’s salary in 2018 is if he leaves for a head-coaching opportunity. If he’s relieved of his duties or replaced by another coordinator, LSU would still owe him his $1.5 million salary due annually through the 2019 season.
If he leaves, then it’s fair to assume former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze could be a candidate. That is merely speculation at this point after the NCAA investigation and subsequent ruling in the case of Ole Miss violations stating that Freeze could coach somewhere in 2018 — as long as it wasn’t a head-coaching position.
I don’t believe Freeze will be the Tigers’ offensive coordinator next season. I’m not confident that Canada will be and I would expect a resolution in this matter around Christmas. It’s hard to imagine that LSU will head into National Signing Day on Feb. 7 without an offensive coordinator in place.
Orgeron has named Steve Ensminger as an option to be the team’s play-caller. Of course, Ensminger was the interim offensive coordinator when Orgeron was named the interim coach in 2016 following Les Miles’ firing. It’s also safe to assume that Orgeron would look at some free-agent coordinators to interview for the position, if it’s vacated. Orgeron has stated that he has an idea of what style of offense he wants in place at LSU, for what it’s worth.
Can LSU flip Pooka Williams?
— Don Don (@_Donnnnnn) December 5, 2017
Orgeron is a big fan of Pooka Williams, but I don’t deem a flip very likely.
In November, Williams told SEC Country he is resolute on signing with Kansas on the first day of the early signing period. Kansas, and in particular New Orleans area recruiter Tony Hull, offered and accepted his commitment when Williams’ grades were very risky.
Williams maintains that his grades are in good shape and he should graduate in May. At worst, he may have to take an additional class or two in the summer. Other sources close to the Hahnville football program believe Williams is being optimistic and that the junior college route is more likely.
If he qualifies, I expect Williams to ink his letter of intent with Kansas. He’s very loyal and LSU jumped into the fray too late. If Williams is forced to take the junior college route, then I’d name LSU as the team to monitor afterward.