Signee Kelvin Joseph is changing positions before the ink on his National Letter of Intent even had a chance to dry.
The four-star Scotlandville defensive back will play cornerback at LSU instead of safety, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said after LSU wrapped up its 23-man signing class Wednesday.
“He’s going to play cornerback for us, which is a need position,” Orgeron said. “He’s a very aggressive DB who is a great tackler.”
Cornerback is a need position for the Tigers because LSU missed out on two blue chip targets earlier in the day.
Five-star cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. has been a top priority for years and was considered an LSU lean as recently as Tuesday, but he informed the staff at 11 p.m. on the eve of National Signing Day that he’d be signing with Alabama.
“We put a lot of work into it, and all indications the whole time were that he was coming here,” Orgeron said. “The night before you get a call that he’s not, so obviously you’ve got to change your plans. But you know what, that’s recruiting.”
Orgeron and Co. then got on the phone and turned their attention to four-star prospect Mario Goodrich, but their efforts came “a day too late,” Orgeron said. Goodrich led off the morning by announcing he’d sign with Clemson.
LSU always intended on signing just one cornerback, Orgeron said. Once they missed on Surtain and Goodrich, the staff decided to move Joseph, a versatile defensive back who played everywhere in the secondary during his prep career but was considered a safety.
Even with Joseph now considered a cornerback, that still only leaves LSU with five scholarship players at the position. Greedy Williams returns off an All-American season but is only one year away from NFL Draft eligibility. The Tigers lost underclassmen Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver to the league this winter.
Beyond Williams, LSU’s depth at the position consists of Kristian Fulton, Kary Vincent and Jontre Kirklin. Complicating matters further, Orgeron said that Fulton’s status for next season remains “up in the air” after sitting out the entirety of 2017.
With that in mind, Orgeron raised the possibility of bringing in a transfer or graduate transfer at the position. He said LSU intentionally left the two scholarships open once it missed out on three targets Wednesday in order to provide greater roster flexibility headed into the summer.
“We’re going to look for a graduate transfer that may be available,” Orgeron said. “Obviously we wanted to sign one more, but we didn’t, and that’s just the way it goes. So we’ll find some guys that can play cornerback. We’ll be fine.”
The coach also didn’t rule out the possibility of moving another defensive back — LSU presently has more safeties on the roster than cornerbacks — to corner this spring to evaluate some different looks.