BATON ROUGE, La. — Reporting day has finally arrived.
More importantly, LSU is getting the final pieces to the puzzle in what should be a promising season for the Purple and Gold.
LSU’s 2016 signing class was rated third in the nation and second among SEC teams, featuring 18 blue-chip prospects, including a pair of five-stars in defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence and cornerback Kristian Fulton.
And the hype is real.
Most of the incoming freshmen can feel it, too.
Case in point: Rahsaan Thornton is preparing to take off from Killeen, Texas, to Baton Rouge, La., at 4:30 a.m. Friday morning for the seven-and-a-half-hour journey.
Thornton, the nation’s No. 13 weak-side defensive end in last year’s class, wants to make sure he arrives on campus early. The reason why is quite obvious.
“The team is going to be something special this year,” Thornton told SEC Country. “Of course, it’s more to it than just talking about it; it’s a mindset. You have to buy in to have it in order to make that statement true.”
With National Signing Day in the rear-view mirror, Thornton and many other members of the LSU signing class have spent much of the spring preparing to join the fray.
The Tigers are forecasted to be not only an SEC championship contender, but a team poised to make a run at the College Football Playoff.
Coach Les Miles has even lauded the incoming freshmen class as one of the reasons why there’s so much optimism. One of those freshman, Glen Logan, is ready to exceed those expectations.
“I’m so excited to move up onto campus and start a new chapter,” the defensive tackle told SEC Country. “It (the hype) feels great, but I’m not really worried about all of it because I’m really sure that we’ll surpass the hype.”
Meeting — or surpassing — expectations is a common theme among the players.
Safety Eric Monroe feels it as well.
The Houston product has also been in contact with other members of LSU’s signing class, and is counting down until they’re all on campus together. The time is finally now.
“It’s hype, so yeah, let’s work and let’s show them,” Monroe told SEC Country. “We just want to get to work.”
While some of the incoming freshmen are focused on the greater goals at stake, others are also very cognizant of the magnitude of the moment.
Monroe’s future secondary mate, Cameron Lewis, has been patiently waiting for today to arrive his entire life.
The four-star athlete from Northern Louisiana underwent shoulder surgery in March to repair a torn labrum, but expects to be at full strength come fall camp. As he prepared for the physical challenges ahead of him, Lewis has been fueled by the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream.
“I’m ready to ball,” the safety told SEC Country. “I just miss football period. Just being a part of the LSU football team has been my dream since I was a kid.”
Lewis is expected to compete a starting role in the Tigers’ secondary, which is something many of the elite prospects en route to LSU are hoping to do.
Many freshmen are expected to be in position battles, while others will make their case to be a part of positional rotations.
With an elite class coming like that of LSU’s, competition should come naturally.
“Really, I’m just looking forward to a great opportunity to play my freshman year,” said Thornton, who could line up at either linebacker or defensive end. “Of course every freshman wants that chance to start and play at the collegiate level their freshman year. As for me, I don’t think my situation is different from that. Wherever they need me, I’m there.”
Three prospects that won’t be on campus in June
Do not expect three members of the 2016 signing class to be joining the rest of their future teammates this week.
Four-star defensive tackle Edwin Alexander will spend the early portion of the summer trying to become academically eligible for summer classes. Consider August a more realistic timeframe for the St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Hammond, La.) product to arrive on LSU’s campus, should all of his qualifications be met.
If not, Alexander, who was rated as the nation’s No. 8 defensive tackle in the class, could be destined to take the junior college route.
Should that be the case, he’ll be following the same path as three-star wide receiver Da’Monte Coxie.
The East St. John High School (Reserve, La.) standout will attend Copiah-Lincoln Junior College (Wesson, Miss.) next season with the intentions of eventually returning to LSU.
The talented receiver told SEC Country that he remains in contact with Tigers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and remains steadfast on playing for LSU when the dust settles.
Lastly, highly touted pass-rusher Andre Anthony will enroll — in due time.
The four-star defensive end, who should transition to outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s new 3-4 scheme, is awaiting clearance from the NCAA clearinghouse, a source confirmed to SEC Country.
The NCAA has requested that Anthony show coursework from his time at Miller-McCoy Academy. Anthony began his high school career there before the New Orleans East school closed down, leading to his transfer to Edna Karr.
Because Miller-McCoy is now defunct, it remains a major hurdle for the talented defensive prospect to overcome, though his path to LSU would be straightened out once Anthony can deliver the necessary coursework.
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.