LSU goes national for 2020 recruiting class

Jonathan Mailhes

LSU’s 2020 class is not completely full, but at the end of Wednesday, the first day in the early signing period there’s something different about the 19 newest Tigers.

The home states of LSU’s blue-chip (four and five-star) recruits read like this: Georgia, Florida (by way of California), Louisiana, Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana.

LSU has always found success recruiting the home soil. This time around, the Tigers were more traveled in their recruiting and for the most part had success with their wider approach.

The Tigers grabbed five signees who were among the top five players at their positions in the class, and four came from outside state lines: Tight end Arik Gilbert from Georgia, cornerback Elias Ricks from California/Florida, outside linebacker Phillip Webb from Georgia, and safety Antoine Sampah from Virginia.

Defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy is the only player in the group from Louisiana, and he played across the LSU campus from Tiger Stadium at University Lab.

“Obviously I’d like to have 25 guys from the state of Louisiana,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said. “It’d be a lot easier on the coaches to have to drive to Carencro. But you have to let them go. At the end, distance is going to be a factor. Distance was a factor for two of them. But you have to have a big pool and we’re happy with the guys that we have.”

At the end of the first day of the period, the Tigers have the No. 5 class in the Geaux247 Sports team rankings. LSU is behind Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, and Georgia.

Gilbert and Ricks were the only five-stars to sign with the Tigers on Wednesday, but both were huge gets for Orgeron.

Gilbert is the No. 1 tight end in the class, and 247 Sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons said he was the best prospect at the position they’ve seen since former Alabama star OJ Howard. Gilbert is a mismatch regardless of where he lines up, as he is too big for defensive backs to cover and too athletic for linebackers to mark. On LSU’s initial list of early signees, he was listed as an athlete instead of a tight end.

“I think the way we’ve been using our tight ends has helped in recruiting,” Orgeron said.

Ricks is a lock-down corner, ranked No. 2 at his position. Originally hailing from Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif. before transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla, Ricks has had a relationship with Orgeron dating back to his second stint at USC.

There were instances in which LSU’s national recruiting reach backfired.

Washington D.C.’s Rakim Jarrett provided some early morning headlines when the LSU commitment not only signed his letter of intent earlier than anticipated, but also flipped to Maryland in the process.

Jermaine Burton, another LSU four-star commitment at wide receiver from California by way of Georgia, switched back to the Bulldogs from his native state.

Notably missing from LSU’s list of early signees is a running back. The Tigers remain in the hunt for Houston’s Zach Evans, the top-ranked running back in the class and this may have been a move to accommodate him.

“There are some outstanding running backs out there,” Orgeron said. “There are some running backs who told us they may sign but they didn’t sign. That’s how recruiting goes, but we’re going to keep on recruiting them.”

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