BEAVERTON, Ore. — The Opening finals continued into Sunday from Nike world headquarters, and Day 4 featured all of the invited recruits, including the offensive and defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs. Among those gathered in the Pacific Northwest for the largest annual recruiting showcase in the country are a bevy of LSU recruiting targets.
Here is what I learned from Day 4:
Justin Fields in a class of his own
The Opening’s 7-on-7 tournament Sunday allowed for the nation’s top quarterbacks to show out against top competition. Justin Fields may not be the No. 1 quarterback in the 2018 class, but he has looked the part in Oregon.
The 5-star Georgia quarterback wasn’t using his athleticism in a 7-on-7 setting, but his anticipation, arm strength and accuracy all stood out. Fields has incredible field vision and took advantage of elite targets in the passing game to make even the most difficult throws with ease.
Without knocking any other quarterback in the class, Fields is clearly above the competition and is that good on a consistent basis. Even more interesting: He has no issue with sitting and waiting a year at his college of choice. That’s a rare display of humility for a prospect so polished at this point.
LSU will have an elite DB haul
LSU holds commitments from three defensive backs in its 2018 class. More likely than not, the Tigers will take one more and maybe two. That all depends on who sticks and how the rest of the spots in the class fill out between now and February.
Kelvin Joseph is the longest-tenured commit in LSU’s 2018 class. At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, the 4-star defensive back is capable of playing corner or safety. While he could be a standout at either position, I’m not sure it matters where he plays as long as he has a big role.
Joseph is as physically gifted a defensive back as there is in this class. While he has been inconsistent at times, when he’s focused like he was in Oregon, he is unstoppable because of his elite strength, size and agility.
Joseph is firmly entrenched in LSU’s class and he’s courting Patrick Surtain Jr. to join him.
Surtain is the other elite defensive back here in Oregon. Surtain is technically sound because of his NFL pedigree and at 6-2 and 190 pounds, also boasts outstanding size to bully even the biggest, fastest wide receivers.
Pair Joseph, possibly Surtain, with Nadab Joseph and instinctual playmaker Ar’Darius Washington, and the Tigers are set to bring in a strong, versatile quartet in 2018. The common thread with the Joseph and Surtain is their size and speed combination, traits that Corey Raymond loves.
LSU also is in the mix for elite targets such as Anthony Cook and Isaac Taylor-Stuart, too. Those guys would be luxury items in the Tigers’ 2018 haul.
Micah Baskerville in hunt for 4-star rating
LSU linebacker commit Micah Baskerville has been forced to say, “Thanks, but no thanks” time after time to a bevy of other colleges. The 3-star linebacker has shined in a 7-on-7 setting in Oregon, which is not even the strongest aspect of his game.
Baskerville is a stout run defender with deceptive speed for the position. Since committing to LSU in February, he has added muscle to his frame as he prepares to eventually succeed Devin White at middle linebacker in LSU’s 3-4 front.
The fact that Baskerville has been so effective in pass coverage at The Opening finals gives me reason to believe he could return to Shreveport, La., with a fourth star beside his name. The majority of the Tigers’ 2018 class is littered with 3-star commitments, but after showing out against elite competition at this event, Baskerville should see a rise in the recruiting rankings that better justify his abilities.
Commits elsewhere still hear from LSU
At 22 commitments and with four more spots to fill before putting an exclamation point on the class, LSU is still recruiting a handful of prospects committed elsewhere. Some worth mentioning include Andrew Chatfield (Ohio State) and Leon O’Neal Jr. (Texas A&M).
Chatfield was among LSU’s top edge-rusher targets in the 2018 class. He’s a teammate of Surtain’s at American Heritage (Fla.) High School but committed to Ohio State once LSU dialed down the communication after landing blue-chip DE/OLB Adam Anderson.
LSU offered and immediately began to push for O’Neal this spring. The 4-star Texas safety visited in April and named the Tigers as a finalist but committed to Texas A&M in June.
Raymond has remained in contact with both Chatfield and O’Neal. Chatfield is very solid in his pledge to the Buckeyes. The same goes for O’Neal and the Aggies.
However, it’s worth noting that under Ed Orgeron, the LSU staff has refused to relent even after whiffing on their top guys. That’s just something for LSU fans to note as Ja’Marr Chase‘s announcement nears. He will announce on Monday on NFL Network between the Tigers and TCU. While my gut says it will be LSU, sources believe that even if it is TCU, LSU will work diligently to flip Chase before he signs. Expect the decision to be LSU on Monday, but if not, expect him to eventually wind up in Baton Rouge because of this staff.
It’s Day 4 of The Opening Finals in Oregon
Several LSU targets, commitments are competing. Ja’Marr Chase is a day away from committing
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Posted by LSU Insiders on Sunday, July 2, 2017