By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor
LSU’s elite 2017 recruiting class just got a little more elite, further cementing the program’s status as D.B.U.
Five-star safety JaCoby Stevens, a former LSU commit who re-opened his recruitment last November, re-pledged his future to LSU on Monday afternoon, becoming the 19th — and highest ranked — commitment in the Tigers’ 2017 haul.
“I think he is a guy that will fit in really well at LSU,” said Barton Simmons, Director of Scouting for 247Sports.com “He plays the position with an edge. He’s got the mentality that he’ll come to LSU and bring some competitiveness, some swagger, the nastiness you want in the defensive backfield. He’s a safety but he’ll be a guy who can cover receivers in the slot. He can be a factor in the run game. His best football is in front of him.”
Stevens is the No. 2 safety in the country and the No. 24 overall prospect, per 247Sports.com. He joins offensive tackle Austin Deculus as the second five-star in LSU’s class and together with No. 3 overall safety Grant Delpit gives the Tigers perhaps the best safety tandem in the country.
“It’s a great duo. I really believe this is the best safety duo in the country,” said Simmons. “I think they complement each other well. Delpit is big, he’s got great range, but he’s really physical. He’s a downhill guy that will really fill the alley. He can be an extra linebacker, if needed. JaCoby can be more of a free safety, roam that secondary and show a lot of range and ball skills. But they can also be interchangeable. Both guys can also each do what the other can do.”
Stevens, a 6-foot-2, 200 pound prospect from Oakland High School just outside of Nashville, Tenn., has Louisiana roots, and is close with LSU Director of Player Personnel Austin Thomas, who is also from Tennessee. He picked LSU over Alabama, Georgia, and Auburn.
Consider Stevens’ relationship with Thomas and defensive backs coach Corey Raymond key factors in his commitment, as well as his ties to Louisiana and newfound coaching stability at LSU. Stevens de-committed from the Tigers when Les Miles’ job appeared in question late last season. With Miles still aboard, Stevens is back bound for Baton Rouge.
“This (commitment) is final,” said Simmons. “That was a valid reason for the de-commitment. This wasn’t an attention play where he wanted to go through the process, so to speak. He wanted to go to LSU, but he didn’t want to go somewhere where he didn’t know who was going to be coaching there. There’s some stability there now, it seems.”
Thomas, in particular, was key in landing Stevens.
“The biggest factor in LSU landing him was Austin Thomas,” said Simmons. “He built a really strong relationship with Jacoby. When he came back from his short stint at USC, that’s when LSU was able to get back in the mix again. That trust factor there is going to be enough to keep Stevens in the fold.”
With Stevens’ addition, LSU moves up a spot to No. 3 in the team rankings for 2017, behind Ohio State and Alabama. Don’t expect the Tide to give up Stevens just yet.
“I don’t expect Alabama to cut their losses,” said Simmons. “They’ll push hard. They really wanted JaCoby. Any time that happens, you have to worry a little bit, but I would expect JaCoby Stevens signs with this class.”