LSU recruiting was a marvel as the team made a coaching change in September.
Still, the Tigers remain solid with 19 commits in the middle of the NCAA’s dead period. The second wave of official visits are underway in a matter of days as LSU looks to bolster its 2017 football haul.
Here’s a peek at LSU’s 2017 class snapshot.
LSU recruiting: Where it ranks
LSU’s 19-member recruiting class is cemented as one of the top collections in the country. More impressive: Its national ranking and overall talent can improve, if and when the Tigers land some of the 5-star talent remaining on their board.
LSU’s 2017 class ranks seventh overall and third in the SEC, trailing only Alabama (No. 1) and Georgia (No. 3).
For context purposes, the Tigers hold pledges from one 5-star recruit (JaCoby Stevens), 11 4-star prospects and seven 3-star players.
Most of LSU’s 2017 haul is comprised of blue-chip prospects. Even more impressive is that the Tigers are preparing to reel in elite players at key skill positions who will bolster depth at spots of need.
- JaCoby Stevens, 5-star S (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
- Austin Deculus, 4-star OT (Cypress, Texas)
- Tyler Shelvin, 4-star DT (Crowley, La.)
- Grant Delpit, 4-star S (Bradenton, Fla.)
- Kary Vincent Jr., 4-star CB (Port Arthur, Texas)
Who are LSU’s top uncommitted targets?
On offense, LSU has pressing needs at skill positions. First and foremost, the Tigers need at least two more wide receivers to bolster the depth chart after losing players to transfer, graduation and possibly the NFL. Then, there is only one running back the team has its eyes on.
- DeVonta Smith, 4-star WR (Amite, La.) — Hiring Ed Orgeron improved LSU’s chances of nabbing the top prospect in the state of Louisiana, but count on Alabama to continue to be a factor in the race. LSU is picking up steam with Smith, who said the team is more intriguing after the coaching change. Smith officially visited LSU last weekend before heading to Florida State on Monday and Alabama and Miami over the final weekends of the month. He’ll make a decision on Feb. 1, National Signing Day.
- Racey McMath, 3-star WR (New Orleans) — Keeping Dameyune Craig and Jabbar Juluke on the LSU coaching staff is paramount. That seems to be the case, which bodes well for the Tigers’ chances to keep McMath in-state. He officially visited last weekend and is a fan of Orgeron’s stamp on the program and Matt Canada’s vision of the offense. He named LSU a co-leader along with Texas A&M earlier this month, but the Tigers have jumped out in front. McMath sits atop of the Tigers’ wide receiver board.
- Nico Collins, 4-star WR (Pinson, Ala.) — Craig lured Collins to Baton Rouge for an official visit earlier this month, then surprised many with an unofficial visit on Jan. 13. That relationship carries weight, but is it enough to usurp Alabama and Michigan as leaders for Collins? That’s the question. It will take a strong push from Craig to get LSU into the mix, but the Tigers have until National Signing Day to do so.
- Marlon Williams, 3-star WR (Mobile, Ala.) — Williams is emerging as another realistic wide receiver target if a worst-case scenario takes place. That, of course, would mean Smith landed at Alabama, McMath at Texas A&M and Collins at Michigan. Williams de-committed from Southern Cal on Jan. 10 and will officially visit LSU on Jan. 20. He’s being recruited by Craig, his area recruiter and wide receivers coach.
- Travis Etienne, 4-star RB (Jennings, La.) — Etienne added an LSU offer on Dec. 27, hours before 5-star prospect Cam Akers picked Florida State over the Tigers. Etienne was Plan B, but the 4-star Louisiana running back and one-time Texas A&M commit might be better suited for Canada’s offense. Etienne will officially visit LSU on Jan. 27, right before he announces his commitment. Clemson also offered late, but after canceling a visit to A&M, the Tigers remain the team to beat.
Defensively, LSU has work to do to bolster its front seven. Defensive line and linebacker remain positions of need leading up to National Signing Day.
- Marvin Wilson, 5-star DT (Bellaire, Texas) — Wilson made a stop in Baton Rouge for the Florida game, then received an all-important visit from Orgeron the first week of the contact period. Wilson remains a top priority for LSU, and the coaching change at Texas certainly could work in the Tigers’ favor. He officially visited LSU on Jan. 13 and the coaching staff is confident they’ll land the top uncommitted prospect in the 2017 class. He’ll be at South Florida on Jan. 20 before narrowing his options and making a National Signing Day announcement.
- Phidarian Mathis, 4-star DL (Monroe, La.) — It is a two-team race between LSU and Alabama for Louisiana’s top uncommitted defensive lineman. Mathis, too, has been a regular on the LSU sidelines this fall. Bradley Dale Peveto had led Mathis’ recruitment, which has since been inherited by coach O and outside linebackers coach Dennis Johnson. A decision should come before signing day, and LSU may be the team to beat. He’s in Alabama this weekend and could make up his mind soon after.
- Justin Harris, 3-star DL (Gonzales, La.) — If LSU strikes out on Mathis, Harris will be next up on the board. The one-time Central Florida commitment remained in touch with Orgeron throughout the fall and is keen on the Tigers after a breakout senior campaign. Harris will officially visit LSU this weekend. If LSU offers, it could lead to a commitment. First, Harris will have to take care of some things inside the classroom. However, the longer it takes, the lesser the chances.
- K’Lavon Chaisson, 4-star DE/LB (Houston) — Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and Chaisson have a fantastic relationship, and Chaisson has been to LSU more than any other school since the spring. LSU was his first offer, but Tom Herman to Texas could make the Longhorns the new favorite in this race. Sources indicated it’s 60-40 in favor of Texas, but after the visit, LSU is now the team the beat. Chaisson will be at Texas this coming weekend, which also looms large. It’s a two-team race between LSU and Texas with a National Signing Day decision.
- Markaviest Bryant, 4-star DE/LB (Cordele, Ga.) — Like Chaisson, Bryant is being courted as the next Arden Key in LSU’s 3-4 scheme. Bryant will visit LSU on Jan. 20, but that official stop will have to make head waves for the Georgia product, who favors the Bulldogs and Auburn for the time being. However, Bryant boasts a great bond with Orgeron and Johnson, and he admitted LSU has the chance to be his No. 1. We’ll know a lot more about “Big Cat” once he spends some time with Orgeron and Aranda this weekend.
- Jacob Phillips, 4-star LB (Nashville, Tenn.) — LSU will attempt to flip Phillips, an Oklahoma commit, who is making an unofficial visit to Baton Rouge with his family this weekend. Back on Oct. 1, the 4-star inside linebacker canceled an official visit to LSU to head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., but things got interesting after Tigers GM Austin Thomas made a stop in Nashville to see Phillips during the December contact period. LSU will attempt to push Phillips for a flip during his visit, and sources indicate there’s a 50-50 probability that the Tigers wind up with the Army All-American by signing day.
- Willie Gay, 4-star LB (Starkville, Miss.) — The loss of Rice opened the door for LSU to add Gay to its class. Gay has been in regular communication with Aranda and will head to Baton Rouge this weekend. He sees a ton of opportunity at LSU and believes Aranda will develop him to reach his full potential. LSU is confident it can land Gay, but Mississippi State poses a major threat for his services. This official visit looms very, very large.
- Christopher Allen, 4-star LB (Baton Rouge) — Allen made the surprise official visit to LSU instead of Alabama on Jan. 13. It was a positive visit that put the Tigers right back into the thick of it. However, the Alabama commit will return to Tuscaloosa, Ala., this weekend, and we will see if that seals the deal for Nick Saban. The interesting thing here is whether Allen shuts down his recruitment after his return trip to Tuscaloosa, or gives LSU one last opportunity to flip him.
- Nick Smith, 3-star LB (Orlando, Fla.) — In need of linebackers, Smith represents a second-tier option who LSU could try to flip if it strikes out on some of the aforementioned options. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound prospect added an LSU offer on New Year’s Eve. He’ll officially visit LSU for the first time on Jan. 27 and is on Orgeron’s radar as an underrated prospect. He de-committed from N.C. State and also holds an offer from Florida. The Gators are largely considered the new favorites for Smith.
- Ellis Brooks, 4-star LB (Richmond, Va.) — Brooks added his LSU offer on Jan. 3, a day after Rice de-committed. The No. 15-ranked inside linebacker is favoring Maryland, Notre Dame, Michigan and Oregon but could be intrigued by playing in the SEC. The Under Armour All-American has an impressive tape and the LSU staff is high on him. He wrapped up his official visit on Jan. 17, but it’s unlikely LSU can overtake Maryland as Brooks’ top school.
- Tyler Taylor (Buford, Ga.) — The 4-star recruit from Georgia officially visited LSU last weekend, but the Tigers are behind Auburn and Oklahoma for the inside linebacker prospect. Aranda went in-home with the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder during the December contact period, and Taylor could emerge as a realistic target if LSU is unable to flip priority targets such as Allen or Phillips.
- Todd Harris, 4-star S (Plaquemine, La.) — Harris has long been on LSU’s wish list, and the staff hosted the 4-star safety for an official visit last weekend. The versatile defensive back is in Alabama this weekend and possibly TCU on the final weekend of the month. Corey Raymond has gone in-home with Harris several times this month and is trying to put LSU in a good position to be the team when he announces his decision on National Signing Day.
- Amik Robertson, 3-star DB (Thibodaux, La.) — Robertson added an offer from the Tigers on Jan. 13 and has since scheduled an official visit to LSU on the final weekend. Raymond is a huge fan of Robertson’s film and the intangibles that he brings to the table. Harris and Robertson are the final defensive backs remaining on LSU’s board, but it’s unlikely that the staff takes both. There’s still a lot to be figured out about this particular situation.
Breakdown by position
QB: 2 of 2
RB: 1 of 2
FB: 1 of 1
WR: 2 of 4
OL: 4 of 4
DL: 4 of 6
LB: 1 of 4
CB: 2 of 2
S: 2 of 3
Louisiana (7): Tyler Shelvin, Lowell Narcisse, Aaron Moffitt, Jontre Kirklin, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Patrick Queen, Stephen Guidry
Texas (4): Austin Deculus, Edward Ingram, Kary Vincent Jr., Mannie Netherly
Alabama (2): Neil Farrell, Justin Thomas
Mississippi (2): Saahdiq Charles, Myles Brennan
Tennessee (1): JaCoby Stevens
Florida (1): Grant Delpit
Georgia (1): Tory Carter
West Virginia (1): Seth Stewart