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.
This week’s mailbag comes after what can only be considered a quiet weekend in Baton Rouge, La. The coaches returned home after a tour through Texas, where they held three satellite camps and checked on some of the state’s top prospects. Since then, they have hosted a handful of elite prospects from both the Lone Star State and Louisiana, including 4-star athletes Joshua Moore and Jordan Moore, and 5-star linebacker Dylan Moses.
Without further ado, here we go:
Will Marvin Wilson be in this LSU class? (@sauceberry)
As I alluded to in my most recent mock LSU signing class, I believe the 5-star prospect winds up as an LSU Tiger.
Wilson, the nation’s top defensive tackle, has continually held a high view of LSU, which is just about five or so hours from his hometown.
The LSU coaching staff just recently paid Wilson a visit, which came just 48 hours removed from the release of his top 10. LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas and Florida State all made the cut, and those are seemingly the Tigers’ biggest threats in recruiting the prized defensive lineman.
The reason I lean toward LSU landing Wilson is because of the consistent and meaningful relationship between the tackle and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron. Wilson was amazed by the amount of knowledge he attained from working out with Orgeron for just a few hours at LSU’s satellite camp at his high school (Episcopal, located in Bellaire, Texas). The long-time assistant has always put the Tigers in a strong position to lure Wilson to The Boot.
Wilson told SEC Country that he provided Orgeron with an update on his stance with LSU and that the coach was pleased. That gives me the quiet confidence that the team remains atop Wilson’s list of schools at this stage in his recruitment.
The 5-star Texan has made several visits during the spring and early on this summer, and should return to LSU’s campus in July for the annual elite prospect camp. Wilson will not only show out against some of the best competition in the nation, but have a chance to take a closer look at the university’s broadcast journalism program.
The coaches and his education are among the most important factors in Wilson’s decision, and the signs point to LSU succeeding in both areas. We’re nowhere close to the tackle making that decision, but it ensures that the Tigers remain prominently-placed in the discussion.
Outside of the traditional SEC footprint, where is LSU making serious inroads with specific recruits? (@LSUPETERadams)
While it has become an annual tradition that LSU can lure a prospect from a non-SEC region of the country such as the Northeast, Midwest or Pacific Coast, the 2017 cycle does not seem to follow that same route.
There are certainly prospects in those areas that LSU has offered and would like to entertain as part of the recruiting class, but the 25 members expected for this class will seemingly hail from traditional SEC stomping grounds.
In fact, this cycle has especially emphasized the in-state blueprint, as usual, as well as the border states of Texas and Mississippi.
In addition to Wilson, LSU has its sights set on 4-star linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson and 4-star safety Grant Delpit. The program already holds commitments from 4-star linemen Austin Deculus and Edward Ingram, and the team’s success in the Lone Star State has led to them already making strides with members of the 2018 and 2019 recruiting classes.
In the Magnolia State, LSU has procured commitments from versatile 3-star lineman Saahdiq Charles and budding pro-style passer Myles Brennan. Not to mention the team has made significant progress with the nation’s No. 2 running back, Cam Akers, who recently named the Tigers as one of his top suitors.
LSU has always maintained a steady presence in Florida, where it’s landed elite talents such as Patrick Peterson, Kevin Toliver II and Saivion Smith in years past. The school continues to thrive in the Sunshine State with its focus on the likes of Moses, a Baton Rouge native now at IMG Academy, 4-star wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon, 3-star linebacker Nadarius Fagan and defensive back Kaheem Roach.
That’s not to say LSU hasn’t tried to make strides in other parts of the country. The Tigers made the top five for 5-star tackle Isaiah Wilson of New York, but his recruitment is seemingly a race between Alabama and Michigan. Earlier in the spring, LSU offered Los Angeles’ Kaymen Cureton, who is a versatile athlete capable of playing either quarterback or safety, but remains committed to San Jose State. The Tigers also remain in touch with 4-star linebacker Dylan Rivers (Stephens City, Va.), though he remains steadfast on his commitment to nearby Penn State.
But the fact is between travel expenses, where the team elected to hold satellite camps and the relationships already in place, this year’s class will predominantly be based in The Boot, Texas and Mississippi.
Who could you see as the next potential head coach if Les Miles was to get fired next year? (@chris_baudean)
That’s a loaded question for sure.
Of course, questions concerning Miles’ job security are certainly still on the table — for now — given what went down just seven months ago. Miles salvaged his job after defeating Texas A&M in the regular season finale, but athletic director Joe Alleva conceded that he was considering cutting ties the longtime head coach.
Miles will stick around, and the most likely scenario is that he will walk away on his own accord when the time strikes. In the immediate, the Mad Hatter returning to LSU is what’s best for the program, its current players and incoming recruiting classes.
That’s all assuming that LSU plays up to the expectations in 2016. Miles’ squad is the favorite to win the SEC West, or at least make the race very close. Given the 18 talented starters returning and the nation’s No. 3-rated recruiting class on its way in, the Tigers should be in contention to nab an SEC championship and even a national title.
If, however, LSU’s 2016 campaign were to fall drastically short of what’s expected, we are about to have a different sort of conversation.
Quarterback Brandon Harris is entering his third year, Heisman Trophy hopeful Leonard Fournette headlines the league’s most formidable backfield, and there exists a wealth of talented, seasoned players at other important positions such as receivers Travin Dural, Malachi Dupre, center Ethan Pocic, defensive linemen Davon Godchaux and Christian LaCouture, linebacker Kendell Beckwith and defensive backs Tre’Davious White and Jamal Adams.
On paper, it’s the look of a team that should contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff. But if LSU stumbles out of the gate or begins to slip up late in the season for a second consecutive year, Miles may again find himself on the hot seat.
So, to get to the actual question, who could possibly succeed him?
Two names on staff that need to be considered would be Orgeron and Aranda. Orgeron has been a head coach at Southern Cal — on an interim basis — and likely warrants more consideration for the full-time gig. He’s LSU’s recruiting coordinator and one of the best in the business in that regard. He’s been a part of so many championship-winning staffs that he seems like a natural choice to take over for Miles.
Aranda is one of the best young up-and-coming coaches in America. His defensive scheme could be one of the reasons why LSU takes a step forward in 2016, and he is considered one of the best true football minds in college football.
If we’re looking outside the box, then obviously there are high-profile names that need to be considered. Alleva admitted making a phone call to Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher last winter. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is a name many would like to peg as Nick Saban’s potential successor, but for what he’s done with that program over the past decade, it could certainly make a splash in Baton Rouge, La., too.
Sticking with the Clemson theme, defensive coordinator Brent Venables is a name often thrown around when it comes to head coaching jobs. Last season, he helped the team go 13-0 and reach the Playoff title game while overseeing the nation’s No. 7 defense.
If LSU and Miles were to part ways, you would have to think the program would seek out a defensive mind to replace the coach. But again, to reiterate my main point, so long that Miles’ team plays as well as many expect them to, it’ll be on the coach to leave of his own accord, if and when the time comes.
JaCoby Stevens included LSU in his top 10, then his top seven. Does LSU really have a chance?
The one-time LSU commit still holds the Tigers in high regard. Expect Stevens to be on LSU’s campus one more time before he finalizes and announces his decision later on this summer, likely next month.
The 5-star athlete maintains a strong relationship with Miles and defensive backs coach Corey Raymond, but he has been swayed toward Georgia in recent months. You could say that the Bulldogs held a slight edge over LSU early on the spring, but have managed to separate themselves from the pack since then.
During that time, both Alabama and Auburn have made strong pushes for Stevens — as has Clemson, which also made the most recent cut in his top seven.
Even though Stevens made the trip back to Baton Rouge during LSU’s spring practices, where he has family nearby, it’s my opinion that both sides have decided to go in different directions. LSU would love to bring Stevens back to The Boot, but has instead pursued the nation’s No. 7 and 9 safeties, Delpit and Todd Harris, heavily in recent months with the knowledge that the Stevens is leaning elsewhere.
Of course, anything can happen in the world of recruiting. When Stevens returns to LSU sometime in the next few weeks, he could easily rekindle the relationships with the coaching staff and be swayed in another direction. But that is becoming more and more of a long-shot as Georgia maintains its lead for the 5-star Tennessee product.
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tigers Stadium.