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 LSU’s push for Grant Gunnell, the nation’s No. 2-ranked pro-style quarterback and the prospect sitting atop of Ed Orgeron’s wish list for the Class of 2019.
Grant Gunnell talks LSU push
NEW ORLEANS — Grant Gunnell’s recruitment reached a climax last week after the nation’s No. 2-ranked pro-style passer pressed the reset button on the whole process.
Now, everything is open again, the 4-star quarterback said.
Gunnell, a top-50 overall prospect in the Class of 2019, made a critical return visit to LSU for the team’s elite junior day in late January. An invite-only recruiting function, Gunnell and 4-star wide receiver and teammate Jalen Curry made the short trek from Houston to get a firsthand look at the Tigers’ newly installed offense and get better acquainted with the coaching staff.
“It was huge,” Gunnell told SEC Country at the Pylon 7-on-7 event in New Orleans over the weekend. “There were big-time players and commits. It was good to talk to them, talk to the coaches, the new coaches and the new offensive coordinator [Steve Ensminger].”
Ensminger, along with coach Ed Orgeron, are leading LSU’s charge for the 2019 U.S. Army All-American signal caller. Cam Cameron originally recruited Gunnell as a sophomore before Matt Canada inherited the torch.
The Tigers’ pursuit of Gunnell is now in Ensminger’s hands, a coach whose demeanor has appealed to the 6-foot-6, 212-pound prospect.
“I like him a lot,” Gunnell said of Ensminger. “He’s more laid back and I liked talking to him. Really, it was just more about family then it was about football. Sure, we talked about the offense and how I’d fit in and what they’re changing up — more shotgun than under center — but the biggest thing was that they made me feel like family and weren’t talking as much about football most of the time.”
“They were family treating me like a son,” he added.
Gunnell made the visit to Baton Rouge alongside his mother and father, with Mom playing a big role.
As much as Orgeron and Ensminger were courting the 4-star quarterback, they also were stating their case to his mother, who keyed in on the off-the-field aspects of LSU.
“She liked things other than football,” Gunnell said. “She loved LSU. She loved the coaches and how it felt like family.”
After de-commitment, Grant Gunnell looks ahead
The divorce between Gunnell and Texas A&M became official on Feb. 13. Since then, the elite quarterback has taken a step back from the recruiting process and turned his phone off.
His next visit is scheduled to Ohio State, which offered him on the same day he reopened his recruitment.
The Buckeyes have quickly asserted themselves as legitimate contestants. They are joined by LSU.
“They’re in a good spot,” Gunnell said of the Tigers. “It’s open for everyone right now. I’m going to start looking into it [my options] next week.”
The new chapter of Gunnell’s recruitment will end right before his senior campaign gets underway at St. Pius X (Texas). In that time, the 4-star prospect will get a closer look at Ensminger’s offense, which likely includes a return visit to Baton Rouge for the team’s spring game scheduled for April 21.
In between, Gunnell remains in daily contact with Orgeron, who is heavily involved in LSU’s push. Orgeron’s consistency stands out, as does his honest approach.
“It’s the head coach recruiting you …,” Gunnell emphasized. “He texts me every day ‘Geaux Tigers.’ That’s Coach O.”
“A lot of coaches are professional liars,” he added. “You can catch them lying, so it’s good to hear them being truthful and being up front about what they want.”
So, what’s the pitch?
After signing two All-American quarterbacks in 2017 in Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse, the Tigers missed on their quarterback targets in the 2018 cycle. Justin Rogers signed early with TCU. James Foster selected Texas A&M over LSU when Gunnell was still part of the Aggies’ 2019 recruiting class.
That leaves a wide-open opportunity available to Gunnell in Death Valley, and he knows that he’ll have a legitimate chance to compete for a starting gig if that’s his next move.
“I’m going to have every shot to play,” Gunnell said. “I’ll have to compete anywhere. Every school is going to have a quarterback, but I know I’ll have the chance to compete with them.”
Miss a previous edition? Find every post of SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers recruiting notebook right here.