Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman. Today, we discuss LSU’s pursuit of Alabama prospects, including a rash of new commitments from Kendall McCallum, Cordale Flott and Peter Parrish.
LSU’s push in Alabama
Nick Saban has been giving LSU fans nightmares for years.
Saban, who led the Tigers to a BCS championship in 2003, is accustomed to recruiting in Louisiana. Even after his move to arch-rival Alabama, Saban has yet to slow down poaching the top talent in the state.
In 2017, Saban was able to pull off a clean sweep of the Bayou’s best, nabbing blue-chip prospects such as Christopher Allen, Dylan Moses, Phidarian Mathis, Isaiah Buggs and championship game hero DeVonta Smith from Ed Orgeron’s grip in a matter of weeks. In all, the Tide hold commitments from 10 Louisiana natives.
Saban and Co. are aiming to capitalize on that tormenting statistic in 2019. Alabama has offers out to several prospects that the Tigers are currently recruiting, most notably 5-star tackle Ishmael Sopsher, 4-star receivers Trey Palmer and Devonta Lee and 4-star athlete Christian Harris. That blue-chip quartet remain uncommitted — to this point — and all are considering both the in-state Tigers and the Tide.
There’s reason to believe that 2019 is the year the tide changes, so to speak.
SEC Country’s most recent Mock Signing Class for 2019 has Sopsher, Lee and Palmer all committing to LSU by February. Sources with knowledge of the situation believe Palmer is the heaviest lean, while Lee is quietly favoring LSU. The upcoming season and the development of the LSU passing attack will only bolster the Tigers’ chances in that department. Sopsher, the nation’s top defensive lineman, is also favoring LSU, and recently camped in Baton Rouge while also opting not to make a trip to camp at Alabama.
In other words, there is high likelihood that LSU lands at least three of those four uncommitted Louisiana prospects who are deciding between the Tigers and Alabama. That includes the trio from Tangipahoa Parish, which has favored the defending national champions over the past three recruiting cycles.
More so, it’s worth pointing out the Tigers have quietly been making their mark in enemy territory.
In 2017, LSU nabbed a pair of defensive linemen from Mobile, Ala., Neil Farrell and Justin Thomas. Thomas, in particular, signaled a major victory for LSU given that his father, Atlas Herrion, played for Alabama. Farrell also held an offer from the Tide before committing to LSU.
When Orgeron tabbed Phenix City, Ala., native Tommie Robinson to be his recruiting coordinator, LSU dialed up its efforts in Alabama. The team nabbed 3-star running back Tae Provens in the 2018 recruiting cycle, but Robinson’s hire is really showing its value this year. LSU currently holds 18 verbal commitments, three of which hail from Alabama. That group includes Cordale Flott, a one-time Auburn verbal with an offer from the Tide, as well as 4-star quarterback Peter Parrish and 3-star linebacker Kendall McCallum. If and when those prospects sign their national letters of intent in December, LSU will up its total number of Alabama players to seven.
No, seven players from the state of Alabama is not the same as the 10 Louisiana players on the Tide’s roster, but it does signal a significant shift from the 2017 recruiting cycle when it felt as if Saban could pick and choose his players with ease. Orgeron and his staff have improved their ability to protect the backyard, while also finding talent from other talent-laden states such as Alabama.
LSU signed one player from Alabama in 2016. This fall, the Tigers will take the field at AT&T Stadium with four Alabama natives in purple and gold. Looking forward, with three projected signees from Alabama in line to join the roster, there will be undoubtedly be a rise in LSU’s ability to recruit its archrival’s backyard, a complete turnaround under Orgeron’s rein.
More significant, however, is the ability to not only slow down the pipeline from Louisiana to Alabama, but Louisiana to LSU. Credit must be given to Orgeron for bucking that trend. That theme will ultimately be decided by the much-anticipated commitments of the top 2019 in-state quartet, but with momentum in the Tigers’ corner, expect a seismic change in both of those categories.
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