LSU has quickly bolstered its 2017 recruiting class, most notably when the team added a pair of top-30 wide receivers last weekend to push the current class to 14 commitments.
In the thick of the dead period, the Tigers’ coaching staff is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to dive into a week of critical prospect camps to be held on campus later in July. LSU holds its annual 7-on-7 and linemen camps on July 16, then conducts its star-studded prospect camp from July 21-23 again in Baton Rouge, La., where an elite collection of talent from across the nation is expected to be in attendance and not only pick up offers, but perhaps the Tigers will secure a few more pledges.
Speaking of which, here is how LSU landed 4-star Texans Jhamon Ausbon and Mannie Netherly, as well as its inaugural commitment for its 2019 class:
Did you know that the nation’s No. 11 wide receiver for 2017 was committed to LSU for more than a week before he decided to go public with it last month?
Jhamon Ausbon, a 4-star wide receiver from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) had made his mind up soon after meeting with the LSU coaching staff during their satellite camp tour through the Lone Star State, where they met privately with the wideout at Episcopal High School (Bellaire, Texas) and convinced him to take a visit to the campus.
The 6-foot-3, 217-pound talent made stops at College Station, Texas, and Baton Rouge, La., and in the process narrowed down his top four to a top two comprised of Texas A&M and LSU. But upon making the stop on LSU’s campus, which is not far from where Ausbon was born, the elite prospect had made his mind up after realizing that continuing his career in Death Valley checked off all the boxes in his recruitment goals.
“My big thing is that I want to be prepared for the next level and, hopefully, I can get there,” Ausbon told SEC Country. “I wanted to go to the program that could develop me the most. LSU’s system has the most pro routes, the comeback digs, and the most pro concepts. On top of that, there’s the tradition and the coaching. You’re getting all of it in one — and in my hometown. It was just the potential and the development and, the main thing, making me the best wide receiver I can be.”
Ausbon was raised in Houston, but like his father, was born in Louisiana. He still has family located all over the state, including relatives in both Baton Rouge, La., and New Orleans.
The one-time Baylor commitment was a silent pledge for a little more than a week before discussing going public with it with wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig. Together, the coach and receiver decided to go forward with the announcement.
As expected, Craig served as the closer with Ausbon’s recruitment. The 4-star wideout had been in contact with area recruiter Bradley Dale Peveto and spoke candidly with coach Les Miles in Houston, but LSU’s newest assistant coach sold Ausbon on his coaching abilities and fit in the new-look Tigers offense, leading to the commitment and another reason for optimism in Baton Rouge, La.
Mannie Netherly waited until June 24 to announce his commitment to LSU, but truth be told, the 4-star wide receiver had made up his mind about a future in the purple and gold on May 5.
That’s when the Crosby (Texas) High School prospect reopened his recruitment amid a Twitter scuffle originating with Texas A&M receivers coach Aaron Morehead in the aftermath of Tate Martell’s de-commitment from the Aggies.
LSU had always been the No. 2 option for Netherly, and the Tigers had already started to gain ground on their SEC West rival in the big picture. Once that awkwardness ensued between the receiver and the coaching staff, a de-commitment became the inevitable move.
“When I de-committed from Texas A&M, the A&M coaching staff fell off a bit,” Netherly revealed to SEC Country. “But LSU kept in contact with me almost every single day. Coach Peveto and Coach Craig called me or told me to call them, and we just kept a really good relationship. When I de-committed, I already knew where I wanted to go, but I enjoyed the process. But I made my decision.”
The 6-foot-2, 183-pound Texan has re-visited Texas A&M’s campus and also made the trek to Alabama, both of which cracked his top six schools list he released earlier last month. Florida, Auburn and Texas also made the cut.
However, Netherly underwent a private meeting with Miles, Peveto and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron during LSU’s satellite camp at North Shore High School (Houston), and was in the ear of Craig for much of that afternoon session, where the wide receivers coach proved he could be an asset to the prospect as he makes the leap from the high school ranks to college.
The 4-star talent was looking to land in a spot that would cater both to his skill set and his academic goals. Craig convinced Netherly he could play a role in sorting both areas out, as he prepares to be a vertical threat for the Tigers and maintaining a reputable GPA.
Like Ausbon, Netherly has a large number of family members who reside in Louisiana near Baton Rouge, La., which served as a major selling point for the receiver. The nation’s No. 29 wide receiver in the Class of 2017 hauled in 61 passes for 1,068 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior and will provide LSU with a vertical threat to keep defenses on their toes.
With commitments from Ausbon and Netherly, in addition to 4-star junior college wide receiver Stephen Guidry, LSU already boasts three elite talents at the position, which might ultimately seal the deal on its 2017 class.
LSU remains in the hunt for three other wide receivers, and depending on how the recruitment of a few other prospects at other positions goes in the next few weeks, it could shake up how the coaching staff pursues a fourth wide receiver.
The name to keep an eye on first and foremost is Devonta Smith. The 5-star in-state talent is LSU’s top priority in the 2017 recruiting class, and that was made abundantly clear by how much attention Craig and Orgeron devoted to the wide receiver over the course of the spring. LSU will have to stave off Alabama, Miami and Florida State for the Amite (La.) High School talent, but would certainly accept a fourth wide receiver pledge if, in fact, Smith opted to stay in The Boot and play for the Tigers.
The LSU coaches are now aware that Smith plans to announce his decision on Aug. 15 after taking a tour through the Sunshine State to visit Florida State and Miami. It is becoming clear that the one-time Georgia commit is leaning toward Alabama, which has held steady through the majority of his recruitment.
Another prospect that the coaching staff was wildly intrigued by is Georiga wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman. One of the SEC’s most coveted targets, the 4-star prospect from the Peach State is considered to be a Georgia lean. However, he recently showed up at the IMG 7-on-7 tournament with an LSU shirt on while sporting Georgia and Tennessee bracelets. He subsequently said that all the schools recruiting him are on a level playing field. While the in-state Bulldogs may hold a slight edge, the LSU coaches, most notably Craig, fell in love with the wide receiver after he showed out during the team’s June prospect camp.
Lastly, LSU recently extended an offer to 3-star in-state wide receiver Racey McMath. The Edna Karr High School (New Orleans) product has a longstanding relationship with area recruiter Jabbar Juluke, and has been developing bonds with both Craig and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for much of the spring and summer. McMath finally added an offer from LSU after receiving offers from SEC rivals Mississippi State and Missouri. Both the Alabama and Florida coaching staffs are also enamored with the 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver as well. Because of how close members of the staff are with McMath and how his recruitment has played out thus far, they may be willing to accept McMath as a fourth receiver commit in the class.
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tigers Stadium.