Three blue-chip prospects will give LSU recruiting diehards an excellent reason to watch Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The Tigers hold commitments from 19 players in their 2017 recruiting class. They are looking to end January on a high note by adding several key pieces for National Signing Day on Feb. 1. Three prospects will suit up to play in the all-star game that begins at 1 p.m. ET Saturday in San Antonio and is televised by NBC.
Here’s a look at them.
DeVonta Smith, 4-star WR (Amite, La.)
Smith is Louisiana’s top wide receiver and arguably best overall prospect in the Class of 2017. He has been in the spotlight all week, and at times, not for all of the right reasons.
However, there is no question that the 4-star receiver from Louisiana Class 3A state championship runner-up Amite High is the game’s most explosive offensive prospect. Smith is a fluid route-runner with soft hands and incredible footwork. He sits atop of the Tigers’ wish list to close out January.
Smith has a fantastic relationship with wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig and coach Ed Orgeron, who was once his area recruiter. New offensive coordinator Matt Canada has been in touch with Smith and will get a chance to speak to the highly sought-after in-state recruit when he officially visits later in January.
Alabama and Miami (Fla.) pose the biggest threats to LSU’s chances, but the Tigers are in good shape after additions to their coaching staff and offensive transition. Smith will announce his decision on National Signing Day.
Willie Gay, 4-star LB (Starkville, Miss.)
Gay may not have been on LSU fans’ radar for too long, but he has kept tabs on the Tigers for a while now.
He named LSU to his top five before committing to Ole Miss. After reopening up his recruitment, Gay again named LSU a finalist along with Michigan, Ole Miss and presumptive front-runner and local power Mississippi State.
Gay was intrigued by the opportunity in Baton Rouge after 3-star Monty Rice flipped to Georgia. “Tell ’em Willie Gay is on the way” became a mantra in Louisiana as Dave Aranda and the LSU staff pursue the versatile linebacker and try to sell him on immediate playing time.
Gay will officially visit LSU alongside fellow linebacker Patrick Queen and offensive line standout Saahdiq Charles on Jan. 20. He could come close to committing then but will announce his final plans on National Signing Day.
Jacob Phillips, 4-star LB (Nashville, Tenn.)
Even before LSU lost out on Rice to Georgia, the staff set its sights on Phillips.
A 4-star Oklahoma commitment was scheduled to officially visit LSU on Oct. 1 for the Missouri game, but instead traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala., before pledging to the Sooners.
Phillips, a rangy linebacker, has fans in Orgeron and LSU GM Austin Thomas, who along with Aranda spearheaded his recruitment.
Thomas went in-home with Phillips in December and is attempting to lure the linebacker and his family to LSU for an unofficial visit in the weeks leading up to National Signing Day. If Phillips comes, LSU is confident it can flip him.
Sources close to Phillips believe it’s a 60-40 race between the Sooners and the Tigers, with a potential visit to Baton Rouge looming large. Another source believes LSU will try to replicate an official visit feel for Phillips, who has taken all five allotted visits.
LSU’s biggest selling point: immediate opportunity. Phillips sees that in Norman, Okla., too, but admitted that competing in the SEC is a major attraction.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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