SAN ANTONIO, Texas — LSU lost a commitment from 3-star linebacker commit Monty Rice early Monday morning, but by the time night set in there were two more blue-chip prospects shifting their focus to the Tigers.
Jacob Phillips, a 4-star Oklahoma linebacker commit, has a longstanding relationship with LSU GM Austin Thomas. That bond has been reenergized ever since Ed Orgeron was named the Tigers’ head coach, which is paying dividends on the recruiting trail at a major position of need.
“Right now, I’m committed to Oklahoma,” Phillips told SEC Country after Day 1 of practice at the Army All-American Bowl. “I’m happy with my decision, but I still talk to LSU. I’m still listening, and they’re the only other school I really respond to.”
The 6-foot-3, 228-pounder from East Nashville (Tenn.) Magnet School has remained in regular communication with Thomas and LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. Thomas has been in-home with Phillips in December and is attempting to lure him back to Baton Rouge for an unofficial visit before National Signing Day.
Phillips is committed to the Sooners, but is keen on the Tigers. The No. 7-rated inside backer is 60-40 between Oklahoma and LSU, according to a source close to Phillips.
That’s because LSU is selling the blue-chip prospect on immediate playing time.
“They are all on me real hard,” Phillips said. “JaCoby (Stevens) is from the same place that I’m from, so they are all telling that I can come down and start, and that the opportunity is huge. They play in the best conference. They play a lot of games close to my home, and the opportunity is real big there.”
Whether Phillips visits LSU this month is the major question at this point.
LSU has shifted its focus onto the Tennessee linebacker and recent weeks, and sources close to the situation believe there is a strong chance of flipping him if he makes a visit with his family.
After all, he’s only entertaining Oklahoma and the Tigers at this point. Both are offering a chance for early playing time, but it may come down to what conference he wants to play in.
“They’re not putting a lot of pressure on me, but they just want me real bad and they really need linebackers,” Phillips said of LSU’s message.
“They tell me that the opportunities are extremely plentiful, to be able to come in right away and probably start — that’s the final message. I plan on doing the same thing at Oklahoma, and both opportunities and places are really good. And you know, it’s (the SEC) the best conference.”
Phillips’ reenergized interest in LSU has coincided with the same from fellow Army All-American Willie Gay.
Gay, a one-time Ole Miss commitment, is set to officially visit LSU on Jan. 20. The blue-chip linebacker had one message for the Tigers’ coaching staff when he got wind of Rice’s de-commitment.
“Tell them Willie Gay is on his way,” he exclaimed.
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