LSU Mailbag: Austin Thomas’ tweet, Marvin Wilson and a history of flips
Welcome back to the weekly LSU football and recruiting mailbag.
Every week, LSU reporter Sam Spiegelman goes through his stack to answer some of the most pressing questions submitted by you, the readers.
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Room is getting tight in the Tigers’ recruiting class, with just a handful of scholarship spots remaining for what is a wide range of blue-chip targets.
The college football season is now in the rear-view mirror, yet we’re squarely in the fourth quarterback of the 2017 recruiting cycle.
So, what’s next? Let’s take a look:
Is LSU going “light” on a certain position in the ’17 class and looking to load up in ’18? (@LSUPETERAdams)
Yes, you’re certainly onto something.
LSU is emphasizing certain positions while treading lightly at others in its 2017 haul.
For instance, the team is chasing after several defensive front-seven prospects, quarterbacks, wide receivers and safeties. That makes perfect sense since the team is looking to find a long-term solution behind center once Danny Etling and Brandon Harris graduate following the 2017 season. LSU has lost five different wide receivers because of transfers since the end of last season, and with Travin Dural off to the NFL draft, depth is a concern. It’s similar issues up front and on the back end of the defense. LSU is losing some veterans in the first and second layers of the defense, including two starting defensive linemen, three starting linebackers and two members of its starting secondary from 2016.
As a result, LSU is reeling in two quarterbacks, upward of four wide receivers, likely six defensive linemen and ideally three safeties in 2017. Linebacker, of course, remains in flux. But I’d call those positions of need.
That leaves tight end and cornerback — as what you referred to — as “light” positions.
I don’t anticipate LSU taking a tight end in 2017 and will settle for two cornerbacks: Kary Vincent Jr. and Jontre Kirklin.
The Tigers took in 4-star tight end Jamal Pettigrew in the last recruiting cycle, then transitioned Caleb Roddy from defensive line to tight end during fall camp. That made tight end less of a position of need for this year, though the team did consider certain prospects throughout the process.
That opens the door for tight end and cornerback to be targeted positions in 2018. LSU is high on New Orleans’ Glenn Beal, Texas’ Mustapha Muhammad and Alabama commit Malcolm Epps. I could see the team adding one, maybe two tight ends by this time next year.
Cornerback will be a must in 2018, too. LSU likely will lose Donte Jackson, Kevin Toliver or both. It holds a commitment from 5-star cornerback Kelvin Joseph and is eyeing 5-star Pat Surtain Jr. and some combination of 4-stars Verone McKinley, Corione Harris, Jalen Green, Anthony Cook and Trent Gordon. In all likelihood, the Tigers could take three of four cornerbacks to restock in next year’s class.
Details on Austin Thomas’ tweet, which I assume refers to Jacob Phillips potentially visiting? (@andrewabad21)
For those wondering, Andrew is referring to this polarizing tweet that LSU’s GM sent out right before the national championship game on Monday evening.
#615 🛩 #225 = 🐯🏈🏆
— Austin Thomas (@AustinThomasLSU) January 10, 2017
This really comes down to two potential interpretations:
- JaCoby Stevens to Baton Rouge equals an LSU national championship
- Jacob Phillips to Baton Rouge equals an LSU national championship
Stevens moved into his college dorm room on Monday when the tweet was fired off. This could very well be a tweet confirming that major 5-star addition to the Tigers’ ’17 class.
Thomas is working on his next top target, Phillips. The 4-star Oklahoma commit has spent all of his official visits, so the question is whether he will make an unofficial trip to LSU before National Signing Day. That is obviously the LSU staff’s intentions — to bring Phillips onto campus and make it feel like an official visit in the hopes of flipping the U.S. Army All-American linebacker.
If you’re asking for a guess, then sure … let’s assume that it’s intended for Phillips. As we just noted, linebacker remains a major need in LSU’s 2017 class. Phillips is among the best at his position in the entire country and could put an exclamation point on the top-10 haul the Tigers are anticipating on Feb. 1.
What effect will Alabama’s loss have on LSU’s recruiting? Also, haha, Alabama lost. (@ThePirateSteven)
Steven, I hope this doesn’t sting too much, but Alabama’s last-second loss to Clemson has no bearing on what happens in the world of recruiting.
The same applies when ‘Bama beat LSU on Nov. 5 in Death Valley. It’s one game, and regardless of the result, it doesn’t alter the decisions being made by 17- and 18-year-old prospects attempting to figure out their futures.
If anything, it should concern LSU fans.
Nick Saban rarely loses, so when he does on a stage that big and with so much on the line, it should make for an even more arduous task when the Tigers head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 11 months for their rivalry showdown.
It looks like Ohio State is gaining ground on Marvin Wilson. Do you still see him in LSU’s class? (@byron_overley)
Byron, be careful of reading too much into what you see on Twitter.
Wilson, the 5-star defensive tackle from Episcopal (Texas) High, included Ohio State among his five finalists along with LSU, Florida State, Oklahoma and South Florida. More closely, I’d contend that the Tigers and Seminoles are a step above the rest in that race so far.
I wouldn’t rule out Ohio State. The Buckeyes have done a helluva job recruiting the state of Texas, particularly in this ’17 class, nabbing all-world talents in linebacker Baron Browning and more recently, cornerback Jeffrey Okudah.
That doesn’t mean Wilson is next, though.
As it stands today, I project Wilson to be a Tiger. His mother hails from Louisiana. No coach has recruited him longer than Ed Orgeron. He has a chance to make an instant impact in Baton Rouge.
Want more evidence? Wilson wants to major in broadcast journalism, and LSU has one of the better programs in the country. That’s just added incentive for the Under Armour All-American.
Naturally, his fellow Texans are recruiting him to join them in Columbus, Ohio, but to cool your nerves, LSU’s Houston-area recruits are doing the same. Grant Delpit, Austin Deculus and Vincent have been in Wilson’s ear about teaming up at LSU. So has Stevens and his good friend and fellow blue-chip defensive lineman, Tyler Shelvin.
The list goes on and on, but trust me that Wilson has not finalized a decision and is not leaning toward Ohio State just yet.
How successful has LSU been at flipping recruits? (@Dtrent23)
There haven’t been too many notable flips, Derek, but certainly, members of the LSU coaching staff have been able to pry away recruits that were committed elsewhere — at least at certain stages in their recruitments.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
In 2014 …
- Maea Teuhema was a Texas commit for the bulk of his recruitment. Teuehma was committed to the Longhorns for nine months, but de-committed on the eve of National Signing Day. Teuehema wound up committing and signing with LSU on signing day in 2014 to put the exclamation point on a riveting 24-hour stretch. It’s as big of a flip as LSU has pulled off in recent memory.
In 2015 …
- Toby Weathersby committed to Texas in March 2014, but de-committed that December. LSU offered in January, which eventually led to his pledge to the Tigers on National Signing Day in 2015. That wasn’t a true flip, but LSU was able to nab a blue-chip commit that was committed to another Power 5 program two months before signing day.
- Arden Key was committed to South Carolina for six months, but reopened his recruitment in January 2015, a month before National Signing Day. On signing day, Key committed to LSU thanks to a late push from Orgeron. Again, like Weathersby, it isn’t a true flip. But give the coaching staff credit for coming in late, luring Key on campus for an official visit, then getting him to sign his letter of intent when it counted.
In 2016 …
- Lloyd Cushenberry had been committed to South Carolina since April, but former LSU coach Les Miles extended an offer to the 3-star offensive lineman on the weekend before National Signing Day and pulled the flip on Feb. 3 of last year. Even more impressive, Cushenberry officially visited South Carolina on the final weekend of the recruiting calendar and didn’t get to officially visit LSU until after his commitment. In this instance, the late offer to a local prospect worked out.
- Sci Martin was firm in his pledge to TCU for the latter stretch of his recruitment, but a late push from LSU and Alabama forced the New Orleans edge-rusher to postpone signing his letter of intent. Credit Orgeron, again, for flipping the 3-star prospect, but again it wasn’t in typical fashion. Martin did not wind up committing and signing his letter of intent until March. Still, the results suggest otherwise.
Onto 2017 …
Unlike the previous few recruiting cycles, LSU is hoping — and more so, relying — on some critical flips in the month of January.
LSU will chase after linebackers Christopher Allen (Alabama commit) and Jacob Phillips (Oklahoma commit). The process will begin by luring Allen onto campus for an official visit on Jan. 20 and Phillips to Baton Rouge for an unofficial visit before National Signing Day.
The same goes for 3-star outside linebacker Nick Smith, an N.C. State commit, who is slated to make his official visit to LSU on Jan. 27. Florida also has entered the race late in the process, and the in-state power will get a chance to host the underrated pass-rusher. LSU will have the last say, though.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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