LSU’s second Junior Day of the year in a way marks the unofficial turning of the page from the 2018 cycle to 2019 with an eye toward the future, but it paid some immediate dividends for Ed Orgeron and LSU.
The Tigers landed commitments from defensive end Jaren Handy and linebacker Zach Edwards, two of the top 15 prospects in the state of Mississippi, according to 247Sports.
The Early Signing Period is a long ways away, and few things in sports are as fluid as recruiting, but here’s five things to know about Handy, Edwards and LSU’s latest push into The Magnolia State.
Handy is considered a four-star prospect and graded as one of the top 100 players in the 2019 class. His 6-foot-5, 260-pound frame and athleticism coming off the edge would be an ideal fit for the ‘Buck’ outside linebacker position, and his high school tape shows enough explosive power to slide down and play defensive end in a 4-3 front. There’s a reason he’s ranked as one of the 10 best defensive ends in the class. If he makes it to campus, Handy could make an immediate impact in a scheme that always has room for more pass rushers.
- Upside Project
Edwards, a three-star prospect according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings, is an intriguing talent who has shown the capacity to impact the game in a number of ways from his inside linebacker spot at Starkville High. He was credited with 125 tackles during his junior season and demonstrated a knack for getting after the quarterback with 36 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. He’d be afforded a chance to develop at LSU on a depth chart that figures to be led by Jacob Phillips, Tyler Taylor and Patrick Queen, assuming Devin White takes his talents to the NFL.
- Rival Offers
It won’t completely ease the pain of losing out on Patrick Surtain Jr. on National Signing Day, but you can bet there were some smiles around the Football ops Building when the staff landed a pledge from Handy just two days after he received an offer from Alabama. Both Handy and Edwards also held offers from Texas A&M before committing to the purple and gold. Commits and binding signatures are completely different things, and LSU will have to work to keep both a part of the class, but LSU will savor the little victories along the way.
If you were on Twitter on Saturday night, you probably noticed the above hashtag being tweeted out by both commitments and a handful of LSU assistants. Landing Handy and Edwards is part of a concerted effort by the staff to raid Mississippi in what’s considered a strong year for talent. And between Ole Miss dealing with NCAA sanctions and Mississippi State breaking in a new coaching staff, perhaps Mississippi blue chippers are riper for poaching than ever before. LSU has turned east in recent years to land quarterback Myles Brennan and offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles, Damien Lewis and Cole Smith — the son of an All-SEC lineman at Mississippi State.
- Run at No. 1?
The two commitments bring LSU up to eight for a class of 2019 that’s currently ranked No. 3 in the country, according to 247Sports. That’s the foundation for a group that has the potential to finish No. 1 if LSU is able to lock up the two uncommitted five-star prospects in Louisiana, defensive lineman Ishmael Sopsher and defensive back Derek Stingley, to go along with Kardell Thomas. Those are only three of the many in-state studs that LSU will be trying to keep home in what’s considered the strongest Louisiana crop in years.