Three years ago, the early signing period was a great unknown in college football. Nobody was completely sure how it would change the landscape of the sport, or if it even would at all.
As it turns out, in its short history the early signing period has become the signing day where a large majority of the prospects sign national letters of intent.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron has lived up to his reputation as a voracious recruiter heading into Wednesday’s early signing period. The Tigers, with 23 commitments in the Class of 2020, sit third in the Geaux247 Sports recruiting rankings easily within reach of Clemson and Alabama’s top-ranked classes.
LSU’s class is currently anchored by a trio of five-star commitments: No. 1 cornerback Elias Ricks, No. 1 tight end Arik Gilbert, and No. 2 wide receiver Rakim Jarrett.
Ricks, 6-2 and 192 pounds, transferred this past season from Santa Ana Mater Dei (Calif.) High to Florida’s IMG Academy, a football “finishing school” where four and five-star prospects polish skills against each other.
It’s going to be hard for Ricks to have as big of an impact as first-team AP all-American Derek Stingley Jr. did this year in his true freshman season for the Tigers. But with senior cornerback Kristian Fulton, a projected NFL first-round draft choice about to vacate his starting spot, Ricks is capable of stepping on campus and starting from day one opposite Stingley.
Ricks is a physical corner with deadly closing speed and great ball skills who can handle man coverage most of the time.
Gilbert represents an emerging trend in college football, a tight end with size and speed to consistently create mismatches.
The 6-5, 253-pound Marietta, Georgia prospect is too big for most corners to handle, but he’s also more athletic than many linebackers tasked with covering him. He uses his frame well, making him a threat for receptions in the middle of the field.
Gilbert is bringing in help in his Marietta teammate BJ Ojulari. Ojulari is the No. 7 nationally ranked defensive end in the class, a 6-3, 224-pound tall and athletic pass rusher with the frame to add needed bulk.
Jarrett has all the tools — great acceleration, physicality, and confidence making catches on difficult throws– you’d expect from a top-line receiver. He plays more physical than his 6-foot, 190-pound stature.
The Tigers currently have 14 four-star commitments in this class, highlighted by top-50 prospects Jaquelin Roy and Kayshon Boutte.
Roy is a homegrown defensive tackle product who plays for University High across campus from Tiger Stadium. At 6-4, 289 pounds and yet still a top-line athlete, Roy projects anywhere on the line with the ability to add mass to eventually play nose tackle.
Boutte, a 5-10 180-pound receiver from New Iberia’s Westgate High, compensates for his lack of size with an abundance of athleticism. His speed not only makes him a downfield threat, but he’s also dangerous on screens and smoke routes. He doesn’t need much space to make a play after the ball is in his hands.
Three more LSU recruits are ranked in the top 100. They are Jermaine Burton, a wide receiver from Calabasas, California; Antoine Sampah, an inside linebacker from Woodbridge, Virginia; and Jordan Toles, a safety from Baltimore, Maryland.
The Tigers are still in the mix for some big-name recruits, such as the uncommitted Phillip Webb. The No. 4 nationally ranked outside linebacker from Buford, Georgia is considered a heavy LSU lean who will fit in extremely well with Dave Aranda’s system.
Marcus Dumervil of Fort Lauderdale, Florida , ranked as the 11th best high school offensive tackle, is expected to commit to the Tigers Wednesday over the homestate Florida Gators and Louisville, where his uncle Elvis played and cousin Dejmi Dumervil Jean currently plays. As soon as he gets a year in LSU’s strength and conditioning program, the 6-5, 305-pound Dumervil could anchor either side of the offensive line.
Zach Evans, considered the nation’s No. 1 high school running back, was expected to commit in the early signing period. He has since pushed announcing his commitment back to the Jan. 2 Under Armour All-American game in Orlando.
The Houston running back has kept his recruitment under wraps for the most part. He is considered by many recruiting experts to be an LSU lean with Texas A&M and Georgia gaining ground.