Through two January weekends of official visitors, LSU’s 2017 recruiting class holds 20 commitments, with time winding down rapidly until National Signing Day.
The Tigers will host just a few more recruits on the final weekend of visits, but the majority of priority commits and remaining targets already came through Baton Rouge.
LSU has hit on key recruits at important positions. However, with room filling up rapidly, it is now becoming largely a numbers game for this coaching staff.
Here’s a brief overview of the Tigers’ class, with the number of commits at each position versus the ideal haul:
QB: 2 of 2
RB: 1 of 2
FB: 1 of 1
WR: 3 of 4
OL: 4 of 4
DL: 4 of 6
LB: 1 of 3
EDGE: 0 of 1
DB: 4 of 5
There’s some wiggle room in here, of course.
By this count, LSU would need to take 28 prospects in its class. According to a source familiar with the situation, 27 still is the number.
So, who is squeezed in and who is left on the outside looking in?
Offensively, there are very few remaining targets. Travis Etienne is the only running back still on LSU’s board. He’ll officially visit this coming weekend before National Signing Day, and both Clemson and Tennessee represent true threats to land the Louisiana back. LSU is confident it can keep Etienne in-state, but the Clemson offer is nothing to glance over. There’s a lot to still be determined this coming weekend, to say the least.
The Tigers still would love to take four wide receivers. Racey McMath’s commitment gave the team some breathing room, but three targets are expected to commit on National Signing Day. That, of course, is DeVonta Smith, Nico Collins and Marlon Williams, and LSU is in the mix for all three. However, because McMath pushed the total number of receivers to three, it may stop there to address the team’s needs elsewhere.
Much of the coaching staff’s work is going to be on the defensive side of the ball. Ed Orgeron’s team lacks depth on its front seven, most notably at defensive end, edge rushers and inside linebackers.
Marvin Wilson is an obvious priority for the Tigers, but Florida State and Ohio State are certainly candidates to land the 5-star defensive tackle. Phidarian Mathis finds himself breathing similar air, but with Alabama lurking as a serious threat. Even though LSU holds commitments from four defensive linemen, Wilson and Mathis are special talents and both would be takes for the Tigers.
Six is the ideal haul for defensive linemen, but there’s a caveat. There is reason to fear that Alabama defensive lineman Neil Farrell could flip come signing day. Farrell told SEC Country that he isn’t 100-percent locked in with LSU, despite being committed to the Tigers since July. The biggest threat is Florida State, which also is in the hunt for Wilson. If the ‘Noles are not confident they can land Wilson on Feb. 1, they may shift their attention to flipping Farrell, who grew up a Florida State fan.
In other words, there’s a chance LSU reels in both Wilson and Farrell; that Florida State takes Wilson and LSU holds onto Farrell; or that LSU lands Wilson, but loses Farrell to Florida State. Any of those three scenarios would not be surprising.
LSU has two edge rusher targets left in K’Lavon Chaisson and Markaviest Bryant. Both BUCK linebackers entered their official visit weekend favoring rival schools, but left Baton Rouge with the Tigers in strong position.
Chaisson is down to LSU and Texas, with the Tigers quietly the new favorite, even after his official visit in Austin. If everything remains the same until Feb. 1, consider Chaisson a strong candidate to wind up in LSU’s class.
Bryant entered his official visit this weekend with Georgia as his top school and Auburn a close second. That order has been adjusted and should now reflect Georgia and LSU at the top, according to a source. LSU now feels confident in its ability to reel in both Chaisson and “Big Cat” to succeed Arden Key.
As for inside linebackers, the verdict is still out on top targets Jacob Phillips and Willie Gay.
Christopher Allen’s chances of flipping have dwindled, drastically, after spending a weekend in Tuscaloosa, Ala. However, LSU’s attention remains solely on flipping Phillips and landing Gay.
Phillips has spent his time back home contemplating his options — to stick with Oklahoma or make the flip to LSU. Sources maintain that LSU is the team to beat, but there is a reason for Phillips’ trepidation. Still, it seems to be a matter of “when,” rather than “if,” which should satisfy a major need for LSU in the middle of its defense.
Gay called his official visit to LSU both “wonderful” and “perfect” — high praise for his final official visit. There also is good reason to believe Gay finds his way into LSU’s class as well, considering the need for linebackers and the high review he gave the school and his conversations with the coaches. It’s still difficult for some to believe a prospect out of Starkville, Miss., would pick the Tigers over Mississippi State, but keep in mind that all cases are unique.
The final pieces of the puzzle — defensive backs — are far and away a true numbers game.
The Tigers hold four defensive back commits: JaCoby Stevens and Grant Delpit are already enrolled, and Jontre Kirklin and Kary Vincent Jr. are signed letters of intent away from following suit.
It’s down to whether LSU can squeeze 4-star safety Todd Harris or 3-star nickel Amik Robertson into this class.
Expect Harris to be a Tiger, as long as there’s space. That’s a key point that needs to be made. Keep in mind that LSU lost two safeties and two nickels this past season, and last year reeled in five defensive backs. It’s also important to consider the bevy of talented defensive backs LSU is after in the 2018 class.
Keep in mind that LSU lost two safeties and two nickels this past season, and last year reeled in five defensive backs. It’s also important to consider the bevy of talented defensive backs LSU is after in the 2018 class.
It’s a bit less likely for Robertson, who plays the nickel, can be an asset on special teams and brings a major presence to the locker room. Houston and Louisiana Tech represent good options for a prospect who wants to remain close to home in Thibodaux, La.
Truth be told, LSU needs a defensive tackle, an edge rusher or an inside linebacker more than it needs another elite defensive back at the moment. How the dominoes fall between now and National Signing Day will be absolutely critical to how the final spots in LSU’s recruiting class fill up and who winds up rounding the class.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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