NSD Primer | Five targets to watch and contingency plans to know as LSU looks to fill four spots on National Signing Day

National Signing Day isn’t the all-encompassing chaotic scramble that it used to be thanks to the Early Signing Period, but LSU still has four spots to fill and there’s plenty of intrigue as to which blue chip high schools could potentially wind up part of the 2018 class.

Here’s a rundown of the prospects to follow on Wednesday along with their respective finalists, announcement times and some insight into LSU’s chances of landing their signature.

*All rankings are reflective of the 247Sports Composite*

  1. S Kelvin Joseph

Hometown (High School): Baton Rouge (Scotlandville HS)

National Rank: 42 (No. 5 Safety)

Signing Time: 10 a.m.

Finalists: LSU and Alabama

Intrigue: Joseph is the only player on this list who is presently committed to LSU. He re-joined the class at the US Army All-America Bowl and has given every indication since that he will be signing with his hometown school on Wednesday. Joseph took an official visit to LSU earlier this month and cancelled all his other planned trips.

Roster Ramifications: LSU has a crowded depth chart at the safety spot, but Joseph is an elite talent and LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond isn’t shy about giving young guys a chance to earn playing time. However LSU does return starting safeties Grant Delpit and John Battle along with JaCoby Stevens, Ed Paris, Todd Harris and Eric Monroe at the position.

  1. CB Patrick Surtain Jr.

Hometown (High School): Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (American Heritage)

National Rank: 6 (No. 1 CB)

Signing Time: 9 a.m.

Finalists: LSU, Alabama, Clemson and Miami

Intrigue: LSU has been the leader for Surtain throughout the recruiting process and Raymond has forged a bond with him that dates back to his early high school days. His father, Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Surtain, is a Louisiana native who played at Edna Karr High School, and his mother’s family is also from the state. However, a late push from Alabama has created some doubt as to where he’ll sign that wasn’t there a few weeks ago.

Roster Ramifications: Surtain is the biggest fish on this board for a reason. He’s not only the best player left that LSU has a shot at, but a possible ready-made starting cornerback at a position of extreme need. Greedy Williams returns off an All-American season, but he’s a year away from NFL Draft eligibility and the Tigers just lost both Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver to the league this winter. LSU’s cornerback depth beyond Williams is Kristian Fulton, Kary Vincent and Jontre Kirklin, so landing Surtain is absolutely imperative.

  1. WR Ja’Marr Chase

Hometown (High School): Metairie (Archbishop Rummel)

National Rank: 84 (No. 15 WR)

Signing Time: 12 p.m.

Finalists: LSU and Auburn

Intrigue: Chase has been the operative word through what has been a roller coaster recruitment for the talented pass catcher, but LSU has seemingly taken a commanding lead late in the process. Chase took official visits to both LSU and Auburn in recent weeks before announcing them as his two favorites, but he’s seen as a heavy LSU lean heading into Wednesday. Then again, things are always fluid when it comes to recruiting.

Roster Ramifications: Adding Chase would be the finishing touch on a monster wide receiver haul that already includes five-star early enrollee Terrace Marshall. Both freshmen could contribute from day one as new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has promised an offense that’ll feature four-receiver sets, and Ensminger has said that he sees the receiver spot as the strength of the roster. The opportunity will be there if Chase indeed signs with the Bayou Bengals.

  1. CB Mario Goodrich

Hometown (High School): Lee’s Summit, Mo. (Lee’s Summit West HS)

National Rank: 114 (No. 4 ATH)

Signing Time: 7:30 a.m.

Finalists: LSU, Clemson and Georgia

Intrigue: Unlike Joseph, Surtain and Chase, there were questions last month as to whether or not LSU would have room in the class for Goodrich. He’s taken official visits to LSU, Clemson and Georgia in recent weeks, so it’s kind of a crap shoot as to who his favorite may be, but LSU is still considered by most as the team to beat, even though Clemson has thrust itself into the mix after offering late in the process.

Roster Ramifications: Goodrich is an athletic freak with a world of upside, and he’s a high-priority target for same roster-related reasons as Surtain. LSU doesn’t want to go through the entire 2018 class without signing a cornerback, so landing Goodrich is essential, particularly if Alabama manages to pull Surtain out from under LSU. He could contend for immediate playing time, too, but isn’t considered quite the ready-made product that Surtain is.

  1. QB James Foster

Hometown (High School): Montgomery, Ala. (Lanier HS)

National Rank: 271 (No. 12 Dual-threat QB)

Signing Time: 11 a.m.

Finalists: LSU, Florida State, Texas A&M and Alabama

Intrigue: Florida State is still considered the favorite to land Foster, but LSU has made a push of late. Ed Orgeron brought nearly his entire staff with him to make an in-home visit with Foster and his family last week. Still, it’s a long shot at this point that he winds up in Baton Rouge as seemingly every blue blood program in the country looking for a quarterback has stepped up its pursuit of Foster.

Roster Ramifications: LSU is going to be light on experience at the quarterback position regardless of who signs on Wednesday, but adding Foster would help alleviate some concerns about LSU’s depth at the position. Presently LSU has only three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster: Myles Brennan, Lowell Narcisse and Justin McMillian. If one of two of those signal callers leave this summer, that would leave the Tigers perilously thin, though the staff has added some walk-ons in recent weeks to help sure up the position as best it can.

CONTINGENCY PLANS

PLAN A | LSU would like to fill out the final four spots from the group of five prospects above, but if two or more of those blue chippers sign elsewhere, LSU will have some different options to consider. One of those fallback options is John Curtis tight end Glenn Beal (No. 26 TE). However, it’s not necessarily a position of great need with starter Foster Moreau coming back for his senior season, North Carolina State transfer Thad Moss eligible to play and Zach Sheffer (No. 28 TE) already on campus as a mid-year enrollee. LSU could also turn to Evangel safety ArDarius Washington (No. 45 S), a one-time Tiger commit, though he’s now considered likely to sign with TCU.

PLAN B | If LSU finishes with 23 or 24 signees, it could also leave a spot vacant heading into the spring. That would allow the staff flexibility to add a graduate transfer or lower-division player some time this summer. Numbers are tight with the NCAA now enforcing the 25-man limit per signing class, so it could be in LSU’s best interest to save a spot for someone down the line instead of using it on a marginal prospect.

About James Moran 1377 Articles
James Moran was Editor of Tiger Rag from August 2018 to October 2019. He previously served as the associate editor since 2014. He is a graduate of the LSU Manship School of Journalism.

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