Tigers look to begin finalizing its top-five class and add some key pieces
LSU’s hellacious 2020 season took a turn for the better Saturday night when a depleted Tiger team ruined the Florida Gators season with a 37-34 win in The Swamp. Now LSU is hoping that momentum can extend to Wednesday.
While LSU has struggled on the field, their efforts on the recruiting trail have been top notch. Despite opt-outs, injuries, a historically bad defense and a 4-5 record, LSU has positioned themselves to have their third straight top-five recruiting class.
Since we last talked about LSU’s 2021 class, the Tigers were ranked No. 3 nationally with 20 commits in hand. That’s dropped slightly with Nathaniel Wiggins, a four-star corner from Atlanta, flipping to Clemson. If you’re keeping score this is the second year in a row Clemson’s snatched a corner from LSU. LSU now has 19 commits and the No. 4 class, behind Alabama, Ohio State and now Georgia. Wiggins was also the only corner in LSU’s class, though they do have four safeties.
Of the 19 commits, LSU looks to have 16 players sign between Wednesday and Friday
- Sage Ryan: five-star safety, Lafayette, La.
- Garrett Nussmeier: four-star quarterback, Flower Mound, Texas
- Landon Jackson: four-star defensive end, Texarkana, Texas
- Corey Kiner: four-star running back, Cincinnati, Ohio
- Matthew Langlois: three-star safety, New Road, La.
- Derrick Davis Jr.: four-star safety, Monroeville, Pa.
- Deion Smith: four-star receiver, Jackson, Miss.
- Garrett Dellinger: four-star tackle, Clarkston, Mich.
- Keanu Koht: four-star defensive end, Vero Beach, Fla.
- Jalen Shead: three-star tight end, Olive Branc, Miss.
- Jack Bech: four-star receiver, Lafayette, La.
- Greg Penn III: four-star linebacker, Hyattsville, Md.
- Peyton Todd: No. 1 punter in the cycle, West Monroe, La.
- Chris Hilton: four-star receiver, Zachary, La.
- Saivion Jones: four-star defensive end, St. James, La.
- Zavier Carter: four-star defensive end, Atlanta, Ga.
The two commits who are not signing early are a pair of four-stars: linebacker Raesjon Davis from California and wide receiver JoJo Earle from Texas. Both are top-50 players nationally. Texas A&M is rumored to be pushing hard for Earle, while Davis is now waiting till February 3. There’s also rumors that three-star safety Khari Gee may wind up flipping.
Just received this update from LSU linebacker commit Raesjon Davis:
“I am signing on February 3rd to see all of my options out and know exactly where I want to go.”#LSU
— Glen West (@glenwest21) December 15, 2020
The big question for LSU isn’t so much which longstanding commits will they sign, it’s who will they add? The biggest fish out there for LSU is five-star defensive tackle Maason Smith. Smith is Louisiana’s No. 1 player i and has long been linked to LSU; is Wednesday the day he makes it official? All signs point toward yes but you never want to assume anything with the wild world of recruiting.
LSU has also emerged as favorites for a pair of new targets: JUCO linebacker Navonteque Strong and four-star running back Armoni Goodwin. Strong decommitted from Mississippi State on Tuesday a few weeks after getting an offer from LSU. Strong is the highest rated JUCO middle linebacker and LSU has now emerged as the favorite to land him.
Goodwin, like Strong, also recently decommitted from an SEC school, in this case Auburn. LSU has been adamant about adding a second running back to go along with Corey Kiner and with Gus Malzahn on the way out, LSU now has 100 percent of crystal balls in their favor. Goodwin is a top-100 overall player and the No. 5 running back.
LSU might have a corner in place to compensate for Wiggins flipping to Clemson. Damarius McGhee, a four-star from Pensacola, was a Tennessee commit up until Thanksgiving. McGhee got an LSU offer at the end of August and now all seven 247 predictions have McGhee committing to LSU. McGhee is scheduled to commit at 11:45 on ESPN2.
If those 16 all sign and LSU adds those three players previously mentioned, that will give them 19 with room to add six more players. As for who those six players could be, that remains to be seen. Of course three of those spots could very easily be filled by Raesjon Davis, JoJo Earle and Khari Gee who are still LSU commits after all.
Perhaps five-star tackle Tristan Leigh or four-star receiver Brian Thomas Jr. will occupy those spots. Leigh will announce his decision on January 2, while Thomas appears to be waiting to till February. LSU is also in the mix for four-star safety Jardin Gilbert from U-High, and Jordan Moko, a JUCO offensive tackle from Australia. Speaking of offensive linemen, keep an eye on Savion Byrd and Bryce Foster. Both have LSU offers but appear to be signing with SMU and Texas A&M respectively.
Of course LSU may save those last few spots and dip into the graduate transfer market once again. If LSU loses Leigh or can’t pull a surprise and land Byrd or Foster, perhaps Ed Orgeron tries to bolster the offensive line with a more readymade player instead of an incoming college freshman.
This year has sucked for all of us. But let’s take a moment to remember that recruiting is the lifeblood of a college football program and even in a down year, Coach O and his staff have continued to recruit at an elite level. Assuming Maason Smith and Brian Thomas Jr. sign—and both players have 100 percent of predictions in LSU’s favor—LSU will have signed the five best players in the state of Louisiana while also expanding their recruiting footprint to places that they haven’t normally been before like Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Not bad for a down year.