LSU is at a crossroads in its summer plans as the coaching staff puts an exclamation point on its satellite and summer camp tour and begins to focus its attention on the 2016 season.
LSU director of player personnel and assistant athletic director Austin Thomas joined Culotta and The Prince on ESPN 104.5 FM in Baton Rouge, La., on Thursday to describe how the recruiting process changes — slightly — as fall camp gets underway.
“It starts with Coach (Les) Miles, who lays out a vision for a two- to three-year process,” Thomas said on the radio show. “Coach Miles has a vision for what we want every year, and I get with Coach O (Ed Orgeron) to come up with a very specific plan while these coaches turn their attention to the current team. What we have to do is be at our best now through signing day. We come up with specific plans on phone calls, official visits and unofficial visits, where we’re going to be in the fall, where we’re going on Friday nights and bye weeks and identify the 2018, 2019 and 2020 classes. We have to be at our best right now. The fall camp signals the beginning of a lot of things for us, the season, but recruiting as well, so we can turn it up a notch and be very detailed to finish the way we want.”
LSU wrapped up its second prospect camp last Saturday. It culminated with the inaugural team barbecue, which brought a bevy of blue-chip recruits to Baton Rouge, including some who didn’t compete at the camp.
That led to three commitments in as many days beginning last Friday, and a fourth in 3-star Alabama defensive lineman Neil Farrell on Tuesday. It also gave the coaching staff a grander scope of the recruiting landscape after satellite camps held in New Orleans, Shreveport, La., and Houston in June.
“It was all a little different,” Thomas said on the radio. “You have to have an approach that’s very strategic, and in the addition of the satellite camps it was about targeting guys we can get on our campus in June and then knowing the guys that weren’t going to make it. We put ourselves in a position around the region to go and work with guys and have the opportunity to be with guys and culminate everything with our high schools that wrapped up last week at LSU. While it might not have had the numbers we’re used to for the second high school session in July, we still actually targeted even more and got to work with more prospects than we usually did at the high school camp in July with the satellite camps.”
Next up, the LSU recruiting staff, anchored by Thomas, will begin to try and lure some of the remaining targets on the team’s wish list to Baton Rouge to take in some of the fall camp practice sessions. That isn’t as easy as it seems.
Thomas laid out some of the tricks of the trade, as well as some of his staff’s other plans for when the season kicks off in September.
“It’s a great opportunity for some of those guys to come watch our coaching staff coach our players and see how they’ll be coached and how they’ll be developed here,” Thomas said on the radio. ” A lot of those guys in the surrounding area are already in practice, so they may have to run over here for an hour so quick when they finish practice or have an off day. The big unofficial visits are done by now, but again, it’s great for them to come see us and be around our team and watch us work and get the feel of our coaching staff and the grasp they have on our kids and the way our current team responds to their direction.”
So, with 18 commitments already in the 2017 class and more than seven spots to be filled before Feb. 1, will LSU get any more good news by the time the summer ends?
Thomas made no promises, but left LSU fans with a promising comment.
“We’re not done yet,” he said on the radio. “Before we get this thing rocking and rolling, we’ll get some more good news. We’ll just keep building this thing piece by piece and allow those pieces to fall into place. We’re building this puzzle and bringing another strong class to Baton Rouge.”
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 Tiger Stadium.