The LSU football season is approaching, but recruiting never stops.
The early signing period in December is little more than four months away. Ed Orgeron & Co. have plenty to do to help close out a top-10 recruiting class and address several positions of need.
Every month, SEC Country will outline the three biggest items the LSU coaching staff needs to accomplish on the recruiting trail in order to make that a reality. Here was the to-do list for August. At the end of the month, we revisit those crucial tasks to see if LSU checked off any boxes.
Add another piece to the front 7
LSU is well-stocked along the defensive front and at linebacker, but is in the market to add either a defensive tackle to man the middle or an edge rusher to bolster the depth at buck linebacker.
Of the Tigers’ dozen defensive prospects in their 2018 recruiting class, nine are projected to play in the front seven. That includes defensive lineman Nelson Jenkins, Ja’Quon Griffin, Davin Cotton, Dare Rosenthal, Jarell Cherry, Dantrieze Scott and Travez Moore, as well as linebackers Damone Clark and Micah Baskerville.
We found out this month that Griffin — the third leg of the Rome (Ga.) trio along with Adam Anderson (uncommitted) and Jamarcus Chatman (Tennessee) — remains solid in his pledge. Rumblings he could follow suit and de-commit from LSU, too, were pushed aside when Griffin updated his recruitment.
Griffin is projected to be a five-technique in LSU’s three-man front. As is 3-star Baton Rouge athlete Michael Williams, who the Tigers are monitoring. The Tigers are in the mix for blue-chip defensive tackle Michael Thompson, who won’t be making a decision until National Signing Day.
It’s also worth noting that LSU’s push for a fourth edge rusher centers around 3-star defensive end Andres Fox. The Alabama standout is down to four, but privately has a leader. There’s good reason to believe it’s LSU. A commitment could come sometime in September depending on how the start of the college football season goes. On the other hand, Fox could elect to wait to make a decision until signing day.
Zero in on a second offensive tackle
There was little movement on this front, which shouldn’t be much of a concern considering August was a Dead Period and LSU was unable to get any big-time tackle prospects on campus.
Four-star Texas tackle Rafiti Ghirmai, who named the Tigers as his leading school after the spring game in April, gave a verbal commitment to the Longhorns. UCLA was quietly Ghirmai’s No. 2 team. Despite the one-time lead for the projected right tackle, LSU is out of the mix for Ghirmai heading into the fall.
That leaves 4-star junior college tackle Badara Traore as priority No. 1 along the offensive line through the December signing period. Traore has made only one official visit thus far — to Auburn — and those in The Plains believe an early visit is a red flag regarding their chances with the 6-foot-8, 315-pound tackle. Traore will officially visit LSU this fall and is figuring out his other stops. Sources close to the junior college standout believe LSU is a likely destination for the tackle. An official visit could lock him in.
Secure a priority wide receiver target
LSU sits with two quality wide receivers in its 2018 recruiting class, but is aiming to procure two and upward of three more prospects at the position between now and National Signing Day.
The Tigers’ No. 1 wide receiver target — and on offense as a whole — is Terrace Marshall Jr., who visited before the Dead Period with his entire family. Marshall has frequented LSU’s campus more than any other and is in the process of scheduling his official visits as we speak. A decision won’t come until Dec. 22, but LSU sits in a strong position with the 5-star wide receiver because of the relationships forged over the past two years. A strong showing on offense will likely close the deal.
LSU also hosted 4-star New Orleans receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Lawrence Keys III before the Dead Period. Chase, who committed to Florida in July, is keeping the door open on the Tigers and plans on being on hand for several games this fall. TCU is also alive for the elite wide receiver. Keys included the Tigers in his final six and will make a decision after making his official visits in the fall. LSU will surely host Keys and his mother. Expect officials to some combination of Auburn, Notre Dame, Houston, TCU and Nebraska. Still, Keys has maintained LSU as his leading school.
Keep Devonta Jason on the radar, too. While he’s committed to Kansas, LSU is refusing to throw in the towel on the elite receiver. He made a quick stop in Baton Rouge during the elite high school camp and met with the coaches behind closed doors. He’ll likely make an official visit to LSU before finalizing a decision in December.
Wide receiver options are mainly in-state prospects at this point. Other big-time targets included Joshua Moore, Jalen Preston and Miles Battle. Moore, who was expected to officially visit LSU in the fall, has since shut down his recruitment and is 100 percent dialed in on Nebraska. Preston gave a commitment to Texas A&M, as anticipated. Battle committed to Oregon, but could emerge as a flip candidate should LSU pursue him in the fall.