There’s always going to be misses on the recruiting trail. It’s the nature of the beast. What’s interesting is what a coaching staff chooses to do when that misses occur.
LSU missing out on Patrick Surtain Jr. in 2018 and Ishmael Sopsher in 2019 have some obvious parallels. Both were elite prospects at positions of need for LSU. Both grew up in Louisiana. And both chose Alabama over LSU on National Signing Day.
Last season Ed Orgeron and Co. took two open scholarships into the offseason after missing on Burrow and quarterback James Foster. Those turned into Terrence Alexander and, more importantly, Joe Burrow.
LSU took a completely different approach this time around when the Sopsher miss left a scholarship open. Instead Orgeron signed Desmond Little, a little-known 6-foot-6, 215-pound edge rusher out of Alabama.
“We had a pecking order,” Orgeron said at his National Signing Day press conference. “Obviously we had some guys we went after that didn’t come, but Desmond was always sitting there. He’s a guy that we thought would always come to LSU.”
Two factors played into the change in approach. LSU had holes in its 2018 signing class, namely at quarterback (no signees) and defensive back (one signee). That forced LSU to turn to the graduate transfer market to fill holes with players who would step in and contribute.
The 2019 signing class that LSU finished up Wednesday is seen as a far more complete haul. That allowed Orgeron to pivot to a high-upside high schooler when Sopsher announced he wasn’t coming.
Little has been a silent commitment for some time, according to Orgeron, meaning he told the staff of his willingness to sign but disclosed nothing publicly.
The Alabama native is certainly an intriguing prospect. He’s got a long, rangy frame and was a three-sport star in high school, excelling in football, basketball and track. He’s a sprinter on the track who measure a long jump of 12 feet, 9 inches.
“We feel like we found a diamond in the rough,” Orgeron said. “We’re glad that we signed him.”
King will have a chance to join a pretty impressive list of recruits who have been LSU’s Mr. Irrelevant on National Signing Day. Here’s a list of who has gotten the final scholarship from LSU in recent years:
2018: Joe Burrow (graduate transfer)
2017: Justin Jefferson
2016: Lloyd Cushenberry
2015: Foster Moreau
2014: Darrel Williams
2013: Deion Jones
2012: Duke Riley