Can you believe it — National Signing Day 2018 is a little more than 10 months away.
LSU reeled in the nation’s No. 7 recruiting class in early February. Now, Ed Orgeron and his newly assembled staff will attempt to build on that with a 2018 class that has upward of 30 scholarship spots to fill out.
The Tigers just put the finishing touches on two junior day events, which resulted in three commitments and bolstered their 2018 haul to No. 4 in the country and tops in the SEC. Entering April, LSU already holds 12 commitments.
Who will fill the remaining 18 or so spots left this cycle? Here are SEC Country’s inaugural 2018 signing class predictions:
QB: Justin Rogers
Analysis: Last summer, Cam Cameron had hoped to reel in two quarterbacks in the 2017 and 2018 classes. With the additions of Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse in the 2017 class, the focus is on at least one more quarterback in this cycle. Rogers is the best in the state and among the tops in the country. Matt Canada is spearheading his recruitment and selling Rogers on staying in-state. Forget how Brandon Harris fared in Baton Rouge; this is a completely unique situation. Rogers has family connections to LSU and wants to be a Tiger. The biggest obstacle is ensuring that the passing game evolves this spring ahead of a summertime commitment.
Analysis: Running back is one of the primary focuses for this class. LSU will lose Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams, and Nick Brossette is no sure thing to be the team’s next workhorse. LSU signed only one back in 2017 — Clyde Edwards-Helaire — and needs to pad its depth chart. Canada uses multiple backs, and running backs coach Tommie Robinson favors bigger, more powerful rushers. Neither Franklin nor St. Julien hold offers yet, but they will come in time. Franklin needs to camp in Baton Rouge first, while St. Julien could land his offer late in the summer or in the fall after further evaluation. He’s projected as a speed back. The third option could be an out-of-state recruit. Joiner, Tavion Thomas, Chris Curry, Lavonte Valentine and Keaontay Ingram were the first tailbacks to secure offers from Robinson, but given proximity to Louisiana and fit in the LSU offense, I’ll lean toward Joiner from Alabama.
Analysis: LSU nabbed the nation’s No. 3 fullback a year ago in Tory Carter. He joins a deep collection of fullbacks at LSU along with senior J.D. Moore, Bry’Keithon Mouton and David Ducre. With no real need for traditional fullbacks as LSU shifts to H-backs in Canada’s offense, don’t expect much going on in this department.
WR: Terrace Marshall Jr., Joshua Moore, Jaray Jenkins, Ja’Marr Chase
Analysis: Like running back, wide receiver is a position of utmost importance in 2018. LSU only signed Mannie Netherly and Racey McMath a year ago, with junior college standout Stephen Guidry expected to enroll in December. The latter remains to be seen. Mickey Joseph needs to add depth and talent to a young, inexperienced wide receiving unit that will lose D.J. Chark after the season. That began with an early pledge from Jenkins, but he’s just the first of several dominos to fall. Marshall and Moore are priority targets. Marshall, a 5-star, is the top prospect in the state, so keeping him home is paramount. Moore is the top pick for an out-of-state get considering his Texas roots and childhood fanhood of the Tigers. Jalen Preston, Al’vonte Woodard and Miles Battle are some other candidates to fill that spot, but a degree less likely. Chase is one of Joseph’s favorites in New Orleans, and the offer earlier this spring carried significant weight. Jammal Houston and Lawrence Keys III are other in-state targets really considering the Tigers.
TE: Glenn Beal
Analysis: Beal, Louisiana’s top-ranked tight end, has been close to committing to LSU on multiple occasions dating back to February, but has held off as offers continue to pour in. Jabbar Juluke was his primary recruiter, so developing a higher degree of comfort with Joseph is significant in his decision-making process. Nonetheless, it should be only a matter of time before Beal makes his pledge. Keep in mind that he plays for John Curtis (La.), where a commitment is final after it’s made.
OL: Dare Rosenthal, Cameron Wire, Chasen Hines, Cole Smith
Analysis: Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes continues to do early work on his offensive linemen hauls, and already nabbed a commitment from Smith at the start of spring football practice and Hines a week later after national junior day. Yet again, LSU will try to address the tackle situation with K.J. Malone out after this season and Toby Weathersby eligible for the NFL draft. Sure, Austin Deculus and Jakori Savage are up-and-coming tackle prospects, but that shouldn’t stop the team from bringing in the state’s top tackles. Rosenthal should be the state’s top lineman, if and when he decides to focus on the offensive side of the ball. Wire doesn’t hold an offer from LSU, yet, but he could develop into the top tackle prospect. An offer would make a splash and likely secure a commitment soon after.
DL: Davin Cotton, Nelson Jenkins, Andrew Chatfield, Jarell Cherry, Travez Moore
Analysis: Orgeron has done some early work on the defensive line this cycle, securing commitments from Cotton and Jenkins at tackle and end, respectively, and Moore as a hybrid edge rusher. LSU addressed defensive tackle well in 2017 with Tyler Shelvin and Neil Farrell, leaving defensive end as a need this turn. Jenkins fits the bill as a 5-technique, but the Tigers need more rush ends. Cherry is being courted by Orgeron and Dennis Johnson, and is slowly gravitating toward LSU. Chatfield is another hybrid end-linebacker prospect that the team is very high on. He’s favoring LSU — for now — as he waits to see what other big offers pour in. Additionally, LSU could squeeze in another blue-chip tackle or strong-side end into this group.
Analysis: Like defensive line, LSU already has made significant progress on the linebacker front for 2018. Clark and Baskerville are two of the elite linebacker recruits in the state for this cycle, and both are very solid in their pledges to the Tigers. Expect Dave Aranda to continue padding depth in this area, though, which likely means a third commit that can play in the middle or outside. Miller has named LSU his leader early on, but his recruitment has fluctuated with new offers continually pouring in. Top 2018 linebacker Teradja Mitchell is one of the best in the country, but LSU faces stiff competition for the 5-star. He grew up a fan of the Tigers, which could help their case, though. Another name to keep tabs on in Jacquez Jones, who recently visited LSU and sees an opportunity to play early on. So does Alston Orji for that matter.
Analysis: LSU needs to load up at cornerback in 2018 to cushion the potential losses of Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver II after the season. In 2016, Corey Raymond reeled in an elite trio of corners that are set to finally take the stage in Baton Rouge. That, of course, is Saivion Smith, Kristian Fulton and Greedy Williams. LSU only managed to take Kary Vincent Jr. and developmental athlete Jontre Kirklin in 2017 so there was enough room for the elite corners this cycle. LSU already holds a pledge from Joseph and leads for Surtain, the No. 1 prospect at the position. Green has Louisiana ties and is a favorite of Raymond. Both could commit later on in their senior seasons or close to National Signing Day. Other names to keep an eye on are Verone McKinley III and Anthony Cook, though neither is favoring LSU at this juncture. Campbell, Surtain’s teammate, is also high on the Tigers, and his versatility could intrigue Raymond. The American Heritage (Fla.) trio of Surtain, Campbell and Chatfield could all be Baton Rouge-bound.
Analysis: LSU is likely done recruiting safeties with three commits at this point. Sterns is very solid in his pledge. As is Washington, who committed along with his teammates Cotton and Baskerville at “Boys From The Boot.” He’s being recruited to a fill a role similar to that of Tyrann Mathieu, his childhood idol. Joseph remains committed. He’s solid, but this is not a done deal. Joseph and Raymond boast a fantastic relationship, but will that be enough to fend off Georgia, Miami and Florida State? Odds are that it will be.