Four signees at three positions of serious need will be enrolling early after signing National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said.
Given his shorthanded roster, Orgeron joked he’d suit all four high schoolers up for the Fiesta Bowl against UCF if he could.
“We expect them to be in a position to start next year,” Orgeron said.
That list of course includes prized cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., considered by some to the best high school player in the nation.
LSU will be without starting cornerbacks Greedy Williams (NFL Draft) and Kristian Fulton (ankle surgery) against UCF. Stingley may take one of those starting positions as early as this spring, and Orgeron considers him an immediate option to compete for punt return duties.
“Touchdowns,” Orgeron responded when asked what Stingley could provide as a return man. “I wish he could play in the bowl. That’s one of the things we want him to do.”
Defensive tackle Siaki “Apu” Ika will also be enrolling early, Orgeron said. The Utah native signed with LSU over Florida, Utah and other finalists during an announcement ceremony that got the Early Signing Period off on the right foot for LSU.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 347 pounds, Ika profiles as a nose tackle in LSU’s defensive scheme. His commitment came hours before news broke that starting nose tackle Ed Alexander would forgo his senior season and enter the 2019 NFL Draft.
The other two early enrollees that Orgeron announced were junior college tight end TK McLendon and offensive lineman Charles Turner. Orgeron announced the former would begin his career working as a blocking tight end in the running game.
“Huge to get the tight ends, and we need more,” Orgeron said. “We feel like we’ve got two good tight ends coming in with TK and Charles, who is going to be a run-blocking tight end. We feel good about that.”
The tight end position is wide open heading into 2019 with starter Foster Moreau and reserve Jacory Washington both set to graduate. Thaddeus Moss and Jamal Pettigrew both missed the entire 2018 season due to injuries.
RELOADING AT CORNER
Orgeron and Co. began the Early Signing Period knowing there was a possibility that Stingley would be the only cornerback to sign.
Instead, thanks to some strong closing work, it appears the Fiesta Bowl will be the final time LSU is thin at the position for a while.
LSU signed both four-star athlete Raydarious Jones of Mississippi and three star prospect Cordale Flott of Alabama on Wednesday.
Jones was in the middle of a tug-of-war between LSU and Ole Miss that went right down to the wire. Jones announced his decision at 1:30 p.m. Orgeron said he hadn’t heard a final decision from Jones’ coach until 1:25 p.m.
Flott committed to LSU back in June, but there had been scuttlebutt of late that the defensive back was getting cold feet. As of Tuesday night, Flott was planning on waiting until February to sign. Orgeron credited assistant Corey Raymond with staying on him and getting the signature.
TWO TO GO
LSU received 19 National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, but there’s a pair of commitments who remain unsigned: cornerback Maurice Hampton and offensive tackle Ray Parker.
“Every recruit has a different story,” Orgeron said. “They’ll be some recruits that have some reason why they didn’t sign and we say ‘Ok, we understand that.’ Then there’s some recruits who we don’t know why they didn’t sign. We’re going to treat everyone different and take the best player available.”
Hampton not signing was to be expected. The two-sport phenom will take until February to weight all his options, which including signing professionally with whichever team selects him in the upcoming MLB Draft.
Projected as a top-30 draft prospect, Hampton is a risk to be selected early and sign professionally. This is a risk that LSU must weight because Hampton would still count toward the 25-scholarship limit if he signs and then bolts for professional baseball.
“You have to gauge how good they are,” Orgeron said. “Obviously, if we think we’re going to sign them, they’re worth it.”