Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman. In this edition, we discuss an eventful junior day at LSU, which included commitments from a pair of Mississippi-based defenders and 4-star Texas cornerback Marcus Banks.
Marcus Banks names LSU his leader
Marcus Banks made his first trip to LSU last November for the win against Arkansas. In his return on Saturday, he brought his mother, Leah, and sister along.
With the stakes raised, the LSU staff impressed. Defensive backs coach Corey Raymond shadowed Banks for the length of junior day before sitting down with coach Ed Orgeron to close out the visit. Afterward, Banks named LSU as his leading school based on what the school offers in terms of life during and after football.
“Coach Raymond doesn’t like to brag, but it’s ‘DBU,'” Banks told SEC Country. “‘DBU’ is a tradition, but it’s also becoming a man. LSU is like a fraternity and all the defensive backs still come back. Coach Raymond doesn’t let you come in and just play corner or come in and just play safety. He said: ‘You’ll play some nickel, some star … everything.’ That’s why LSU is really ‘DBU’ and why the players are so versatile. You don’t play just corner, you play everything, and that’s what NFL scouts look for.”
Banks recently earned his spot in Nike’s The Opening finals this summer, when the 6-foot, 170-pound corner will have a chance to test his skills against some of the best prospects in the country.
Raymond already has taken a liking to what Banks offers. Given the Tigers’ need for reinforcements, the chance to compete for playing time as a freshman was difficult to ignore.
“He was telling me what the plan is — to come in and compete, but getting the opportunities as well,” Banks said of his conversations with Raymond. “Everyone gets the same opportunities here. One of the receivers just moved to corner because they don’t have corners right now, which gives me a great opportunity to play as a true freshman as well. Overall, everything that Coach Raymond was talking about went well and he’s one of the coaches I have a really good relationship with overall.”
Banks and his family were the first to step into Orgeron’s office after touring the campus, the football facilities and taking a closer look at academics. That’s when the head coach made his move.
Orgeron took a fatherly approach with Banks, appealing to the family aspect that would be available in Baton Rouge and justifying what the LSU football program could offer.
“He got real personal,” Banks began. “I was the first one he called into the office. There were a bunch of people waiting to talk to him, but I was first. We talked about the tradition of ‘DBU’ and how many people they have in the NFL — about 62 — and that’s the most out of any college currently in the NFL.
“He was telling how he would take care of me and treat me as if I was one of his own. He showed us some family pictures and asked my mom a few things about how she treats me and how he’d treat me the same way because he knows I’m leaving my mom to come into the big world in college, so he made sure my mom knew he’d welcome me with open arms. They [my family] loved it. Coach O showed them love and my mom said it was one of the best visits so far.”
Banks has made unofficial stops to Alabama, Texas and Texas A&M in recent weeks. He plans to take his official visits in the spring, with LSU in line to host him for one of his allotted five.
Expect Banks to make a decision ahead of his senior season at Dekaney (Texas) High School. For now, the safe money should be on LSU after the 4-star corner declared the Tigers as his leader.
“They’re at the top of the list,” Banks said. “I had a great time. My family is down there and it was fun getting back to see them as well. I got to go in-depth on the academics and explore the facilities more. This visit was about the culture and academics and relationships.
“Coach Corey was with me the whole time on the visit and showed a lot of love,” he added. “Coach Orgeron was with me, too. Overall, I got a good feeling and it felt like home definitely … a home away from home.”
— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) March 3, 2018
Jaren Handy, Zach Edwards bolster LSU’s 2019 class
LSU added two players to its 2019 recruiting class on Saturday when a pair of Mississippi defenders gave commitments to the staff. That includes top-100 defensive end Jaren Handy and 3-star inside linebacker Zach Edwards, who hails from Mississippi State’s backyard.
That gives the Tigers eight commitments in their Class of 2019. They ascended to the No. 3-ranked group in the country behind only Miami and Georgia.
Handy is the second-highest rated prospect in the class behind only 5-star offensive lineman Kardell Thomas. At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, the Mississippi product lines up at multiple positions along the defensive front for Perry Central (Miss.) High School, as well on the offensive line. He projects as a 5-technique for the Tigers in their 3-4 scheme and could compete for snaps if and when Breiden Fehoko and Rashard Lawrence declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Edwards gives LSU another intriguing prospect to fit into the linebacking unit. This season very well could be All-SEC linebacker Devin White’s last in Baton Rouge. Jacob Phillips or Tyler Taylor are battling for who will start opposite of White in 2018, with Patrick Queen and Micah Baskerville competing for playing time behind them. Damone Clark will enroll in June. The 6-foot-2, 217-pound Edwards is a converted defensive lineman that could shift out to outside linebacker as well. He brings a unique skill set to the group.
With Handy and Edwards, two slots have been filled in LSU’s front seven for the 2019 class. Five-star Amite (La.) defensive lineman Ishmael Sopsher remains the priority target with big names such as Nathan Pickering and Marcus Stripling in play. New Orleans 4-star linebacker Donte’ Starks has publicly named LSU as his leader, and Texas 4-star outside linebacker Marcel Brooks is down to the Tigers and Alabama with a commitment coming in June. LSU also will host 5-star Mississippi backer Nakobe Dean for a visit next weekend.
Handy and Edwards count as the third and fourth out-of-state members of LSU’s class. The two Magnolia State products are the first to declare for the Tigers and defensive line coach Dennis Johnson’s “#Sip2Boot19” campaign. With Pickering and Dean also in play, not to mention 3-star safety Jarrian Jones, who also visited for junior day on Saturday, there could be plenty more Mississippi flavor in LSU’s next class.
— Dennis Johnson (@CoachDJ_) March 4, 2018
John Emery Jr. recaps Auburn visit
Elite Louisiana tailback John Emery Jr. did not attend LSU’s junior day on Saturday. Instead, the 4-star prospect from Destrehan High School made his way out to the Plains for the first time.
Entering the unofficial visit, Emery had little knowledge of the Auburn football program or even the infamous Iron Bowl. That changed by the time he returned to The Boot.
“Really, before I came here, I didn’t have that much interest. I wasn’t high on them. But Auburn, right there around the corner, a five-hour drive, I came to check it out. I loved the environment. The atmosphere, everyone is just happy. I could see myself playing here, most definitely,” Emery told SEC Country’s Benjamin Wolk. “I loved it, man. I didn’t expect this. They’re a top contender, I would say that, most definitely. After this visit, it felt like home.”
“I feel special. I feel special here, man. No doubt I could see myself playing here,” he added.
This spring, Emery has went to Michigan, Oklahoma and now Auburn for unofficial visits.
Sources on the LSU side are expecting Emery to return to Baton Rouge sometime this spring. For now, Emery and his family are doing their homework on the programs that will be competing with the Tigers in his top 5.
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