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 the busy week of running back commitments in Baton Rouge, how some new additions to the team impact the 2018 recruiting class, which commits are destined for more stars and test our hands with some questions about the future of the Tigers.
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With 3 RB commits in the past week, is Harold Joiner no longer a target? (@Klutch6ene13)
It certainly does not look like Harold Joiner will be a Tiger.
Joiner was long considered the No. 1 priority for LSU at the running back position in 2018, but a whirlwind of new offers, commitments and flips has completely altered the recruiting landscape. First, Chris Curry gave a commitment to LSU last Thursday. Tae Provens made the surprise pledge to LSU over frontrunners Auburn and Tennessee on Saturday evening, then AJ Carter flipped from UCLA to LSU on Monday.
In the span of four days, the Tigers added three running back commitments and seemingly locked in their backfield for the 2018 class.
Meanwhile, Joiner altered his commitment timetable. The 4-star Alabama running back was originally scheduled to announce a decision at the U.S. Army All-American Game in January, but pushed his commitment date to the end of August once he finished up his visits this summer. Joiner has been to Georgia, Alabama and Auburn, and was slated to return to Baton Rouge in July.
All things considered, Joiner is still expected to make the visit. In other words, I don’t believe LSU has stopped courting Joiner to this point.
Remember that two of LSU’s newly minted running back commitments are from out-of-state. Curry hails from Florida and Provens from Alabama. If Florida or Miami enter the picture for Curry, it could certainly jeopardize LSU’s ability to hold on. Provens admitted that Auburn and Tennessee were both his leading schools in recent weeks.
With that said, I expect LSU to continue to push for Joiner until he commits elsewhere.
It’s also worth noting that LSU’s new strategy at running back came around the same time as Joiner’s new commitment timetable. It’s very likely that he was being upfront with the coaching staff about his intentions, which did not bode well for LSU despite his public comments.
How does taking Jefferson late change the total number in the 2018 class and the number of WR taken? (@_coachlo)
Over the weekend, LSU received a much-needed addition to its wide receiver depth chart in the form of legacy Justin Jefferson. Jefferson, a 3-star prospect in the 2017 recruiting class, camped at LSU last July and put on a show against elite talent. He spent the entirety of his senior year working in the classroom to improve his grades and recently earned an A in summer school to be eligible to join the LSU football team.
Right now, the LSU staff is trying to figure out how the addition of Jefferson will impact the roster. No decision has been made about whether Jefferson will be a preferred walk-on or warrant a scholarship.
With that in mind, LSU’s 2018 recruiting class is still on schedule to take 26 scholarship players. The class is up to 22 commitments, so by simple math, there are four spots remaining in the group.
The addition of Jefferson likely means one less wide receiver taken in this recruiting cycle, though. Add Jefferson to a 2017 group that included Mannie Netherly and Racey McMath. The 2018 group features Kenan Jones and Jaray Jenkins, with spots being held by some combination of Ja’Marr Chase, Lawrence Keys III, Devonta Jason and Terrace Marshall Jr.
More likely than not, LSU will reel in four wide receivers in 2018. There’s a spot reserved for Chase, should he commit to LSU over TCU on Sunday, and another with Terrace Marshall Jr.’s name on it. That’s how I project the team to round out the 2018 class as of today, barring any de-commitments or flips that would potentially open up spots for other wide receivers down the line.
How many of the 3-star LSU commits do you expect to jump up in the rankings? (@LSUSteve1)
First things first: recruiting rankings are very political. Very.
Camp circuits, 7-on-7 tournaments and other media events have become integral parts of the rankings. If you don’t appear in a camp, it likely hurts your position in the rankings. Additionally, it makes certain analysts wary about a prospect’s desire to compete. Some of that can be quantified, but other times, it’s an unfair position to put recruits in.
That said, college football programs use recruiting services to rank prospects, too.
Here’s a list of LSU’s 22 commitments and their rankings based on the 247Sports Composite rankings, an aggregate service combining all of the major recruiting services.
- Adam Anderson, 4-star DE/OLB
- Kelvin Joseph, 4-star DB
- Dare Rosenthal, 4-star DL
- Davin Cotton, 4-star DL
- Jarell Cherry, 4-star DE/OLB
- Nadab Joseph, 4-star DB
- Damone Clark, 4-star LB
- Chasen Hines, 4-star OL
- Kenan Jones, 4-star WR
- Micah Baskerville, 3-star LB
- Travez Moore, 3-star DE/OLB
- Jaray Jenkins, 3-star WR
- Cole Smith, 3-star OL
- Cameron Wire, 3-star OT
- Chris Curry, 3-star RB
- Zach Sheffer, 3-star TE
- Tae Provens, 3-star ATH
- AJ Carter, 3-star RB
- Nelson Jenkins, 3-star DL
- Ar’Darius Washington, 3-star DB
- Ja’Quon Griffin, 3-star DL
- Dantrieze Scott, 3-star ATH
Of LSU’s 22 commitments, the team views 14 of them as 4-star recruits. More specifically, Wire, Jaray Jenkins, Nelson Jenkins, Smith and Curry are a handful of the prospects that LSU evaluated as blue-chip recruits instead of the 3-star labels placed on them by other recruiting services.
That’s LSU’s evaluation. As far as mine goes …
- Baskerville grows every time I see him. That has not hurt his speed or ability to cover in space. I think he’s a tremendous run-stuffer and underrated, which was verified by his performance at Nike’s “The Opening” regional in New Orleans, resulting in his invite to the Finals. I believe Baskerville is worthy of a fourth star and he could pick it up with a stellar performance in Oregon this week. He’ll have the stage to improve his ranking.
- Carter is drastically undervalued, in my opinion, and by simple math. There are several premier backs in Louisiana’s 2018 recruiting class. Only one holds an offer from LSU. Most of them have camped in Baton Rouge or were evaluated by the coaches during the evaluation period. Tommie Robinson watched Carter, then had him camp at LSU. At 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, he clocked a 4.6 in the 40. His production at Many High School speaks for itself. He’s a bulldozing back who has flown under the radar.
- Wire is Louisiana’s No. 1 offensive lineman and, more specifically, the top tackle. While he’s only rated as a 3-star, his frame (6-foot-6, 285 pounds) justifies that of a future left tackle. Wire has worked out at both left and right tackle for East Ascension High School and is making the full-time transition to the left side. He has all of the physical tools, but needs to continue to hone his craft. With the right teaching, Wire is going to be a stud left tackle in the near future. His offer sheet reflects as much.
- Jaray Jenkins is another prospect I view as deserving of a fourth star. Jenkins worked out at LSU’s skill player prospect camp earlier in June and was uncoverable. Even the best defensive backs on hand could not keep up with Jenkins in space. What’s more impressive is that he also took a few reps at defensive back and made plays against some speedy wide receivers. Because he plays in Northern Louisiana and hasn’t participated in many camps, I believe he’s flown under the radar as a top-shelf prospect in 2018.
Which is more likely: LSU offers Franklin, adds 2 more DBs or Chark surpasses 1,000 receiving yards? (@RyanMicklin61)
Ryan, this is quite the word problem you’ve assigned to me. Let’s take it one part at a time.
After the week that was, it seems highly unlikely that LSU would offer another running back. The Tigers have three committed and are still in the mix with Joiner. Franklin was scheduled to take his ACT last weekend and I’m sure that the LSU coaching staff is monitoring his grades should something go awry with their current trio of commits.
I believe — if anything — that LSU’s No. 1 option besides Curry, Provens or Carter is Joiner. If Curry, for instance, were to drop out of the class, I imagine LSU would again pursue Joiner. If it was Provens, I view Slade Bolden as a more-likely target given his skill set.
Franklin is a grade risk that has yet to visit campus. While LSU has kept tabs on the 4-star Mississippi running back, the communication and the visits have not been there to view an offer as a likely scenario at this point.
LSU adds 2 more DBs
More likely that not, LSU will round out its 2018 recruiting class with one more defensive back. In all likelihood, that defensive back will be Patrick Surtain Jr.
Sure, LSU is still communicating with Anthony Cook, Tyson Campbell and Jalen Green, but there are only four spots currently available in the 2018 class and there are 13 commitments on the defensive side of the ball. Yes, that’s counting Scott has a defensive end/outside linebacker.
With 22 spots filled in LSU’s class, I envision two more wide receivers, a tight end and a defensive back rounding out the class. The only exception would be a de-commitment or flip that would open up some extra spots for a Cook, Campbell, Green or another elite defensive back want in.
Chark surpasses 1,000 yards
We know that there’s a new sheriff in town running the LSU offense. That, of course, is Matt Canada, who has a track record of igniting offenses and scoring points everywhere he has coached.
But is a 1,000-yard receiver in store for LSU this season?
D.J. Chark certainly has the talent to put up those sorts of numbers, but will the offense allow it to come to fruition? Here’s a look at what Canada’s offenses have produced over the past five years at his various stops at Pitt, N.C. State and Wisconsin.
|N.C. State||2015||Jaylen Samuels||597||7|
|N.C. State||2014||Bo Hines||616||1|
|N.C. State||2013||Rashard Smith||530||3|
So, a 1,000-yard campaign for Chark would be a bit out of the reach of what Canada’s No. 1 receivers have done in the past half-decade. That doesn’t mean it’s out of the question, though, considering Chark is a likely first-, second- or third-round pick.
Based on the unlikely scenario that Franklin is offered or that LSU has room for two more defensive backs, let’s say that Chark’s bucks the trend in the most likely situation.
Who is your projected starter at RB for the 2018 season? (@leakdasickestt_)
Good question. But to answer it effectively, let’s clarify a couple of factors:
- Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams will not return for the 2018 season
- LSU takes Chris Curry, AJ Carter and Tae Provens in the 2018 recruiting class
- Nick Brossette, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Lanard Fournette remain on the roster
OK. Carrying on …
Among the veterans, Brossette seems most inclined to take the full-time starting role. However, let’s not forget that Canada’s offense involves a lot of moving pieces and different usage for different players in certain roles, and Robinson is notorious for using multiple running backs in a given game.
While Brossette would be the favorite to start for the Tigers, a healthy Curry or Carter would seemingly be destined for a role in the backfield rotation.
Robinson’s pitch to the 2018 running backs has centered around the opportunity at running back after Guice and Williams move on. The depth chart reflects the same opportunities and both Carter and Curry present the same set of skills that fit LSU’s offensive blueprint.
It’s going to be a major make-or-break season for a junior like Brossette. He is going to have opportunities to play behind Guice and Williams. The same goes for Fournette, who could also earn some valuable playing time or falter on the depth chart. Should both remain in Baton Rouge in 2018, Brossette would seemingly be the guy for LSU entering the spring.
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