As National Signing Day nears, a lot of uncertainty surrounds the LSU football program about which in-state prospects the Tigers may or may not land in their 2016 recruiting class.
LSU is strongly in the mix for a high volume of the top prospects, but the hometown university faces stiff competition from some of the nation’s other top programs, particularly in the SEC.
Here is a rundown of the five biggest recruiting battles that LSU will face over the next six weeks, including the Bayou Bengals’ chances of securing commitments from the prospects and what the likelihood is that they’ll wind up at LSU.
1. Rashard Lawrence, 5-star DT, 6-foot-3, 305 pounds (Neville High School, Monroe, La.)
Schools to beat: Alabama and Ohio State
The top overall player in the state of Louisiana for 2016 and the only 5-star prospect, Lawrence, is a top commodity for LSU as it looks to bolster an already budding defensive line.
Lawrence was the recipient of in-home visits from LSU coach Les Miles as soon as it was permitted, but the Tigers will have to stave off a strong push from both Alabama and Ohio State.
Consider Ohio State the strongest contender besides LSU to nab a commitment from Lawrence, who will be making a decision sometime in the month of January. Retaining Miles was the biggest swing in favor of LSU’s momentum with Lawrence, as is his relationship with some of the team’s current defensive line standouts.
2. Kristian Fulton, 4-star CB, 6-foot, 177 pounds (Archbishop Rummel High School, Metairie, La.)
Schools to beat: Texas A&M, Arkansas and Florida
Months ago, it seems as if it was a lock that Fulton, a 4-star cornerback, would stay home and play for DBU. However, the cornerback continues to refute any and all notions that he’s lock to land at LSU.
Fulton, the nation’s No. 4 cornerback and a top-40 overall player, is strongly considering LSU, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Florida, as well as Miami and North Carolina.
Fulton is waiting to make four official visits with his family before making his decision, but has yet to do so at this time. He has unofficially visited LSU multiple times, as well as Texas A&M, Florida and Arkansas, all of which also paid Fulton in-home visits.
While it seems as if Fulton makes sense to choose LSU, it appears that some of the other contenders are making more strides. Two Rummel alums currently play for Arkansas and teammate Briston Guidry is a Razorbacks pledge. That might be the difference.
3. Michael Divinity, 4-star LB, 6-foot-2, 218 pounds (John Ehret High School, Marrero, La.)
Schools to beat: Texas A&M
Divinity was long linked to LSU before he finally committed in October. Even during the Tigers’ three-game losing streak late in the season and the rumors that Miles could be out of the job, Divinity displayed confidence in LSU and was solid in his commitment.
However, the 4-star linebacker made an unexpected move to reopen his recruitment in mid-December and announced he will choose between LSU and Texas A&M in January.
The Aggies have made the strongest push for the New Orleans native, even going as far as talking about bringing in Divinity and fellow Ehret teammate De’Jon Harris, an Arkansas commit, along to College Station, Texas.
Divinity is a top priority for LSU, but the Tigers will have their work cut out in order to get him to commit one more time. He is the nation’s No. 4 outside linebacker and a top-75 overall player.
4. Devin White, 4-star RB, 6-foot, 258 pounds (North Webster High School, Springhill, La.)
Schools to beat: Arkansas, Ole Miss and Alabama
One of the top uncommitted running backs in the nation, White is generating a tremendous amount of interest from most of the SEC.
White officially visited LSU on Dec. 11 after taking an official to Arkansas on Dec. 4. The bruising running back has visits planned to both Alabama (Jan. 22) and Ole Miss (Jan. 29) before he’ll finally make a decision.
White has been quiet over the past couple of weeks as he focuses in on his decision. LSU does not have a running back committed to its 2016 recruiting class, so luring White to remain home should be among the team’s highest priorities. However, with so much depth already on the roster at the position, White may have concerns about playing time down the road.
He is considered the No. 5 athlete in the nation and a top-100 overall player.
Prediction: Ole Miss
5. Stephen Sullivan, 4-star WR, 6-foot-5, 230 pounds (Donaldsonville High School, Donaldsonville, La.)
Schools to beat: Mississippi State and TCU
Sullivan was committed to LSU for a lengthy amount of time dating back to the summer, and even after reopening his recruitment paid a number of unofficial visits to the nearby campus before taking an official visit on Dec. 11.
However, the last couple of weeks has allowed both Mississippi State and TCU to make up a lot of ground with the 4-star wide receiver.
Sullivan took an official visit to TCU on Nov. 27 and to Mississippi State on Nov. 14. It’s a positive sign for LSU that he took his last official visit to the Tigers.
LSU has two wide receiver commits in its 2016 class — in-state receiver Da’Monte Coxie and Texas receiver Dee Anderson — but the school has continued to prioritize Sullivan, the No. 17 receiver in the country and a top-100 overall player.
Sullivan is an important get, but LSU has the luxury to swing and miss in this case. The Tigers are also in the mix for a number of other in-state wideouts, including Clyde Chriss (Warren Easton High School) and Mykel Jones (Patterson High School).