The sun has set, but Tigers still adding to nation’s 4th best recruiting class

LSU's late recruiting find on Wednesday was Hewitt-Trussville (Ala). star Armoni Goodwin, an Auburn de-commit rated by 247Sports as the 5th best running back prospect in the nation. Photo by Ron Burkett of the Trussville Tribune

LSU coach Ed Orgeron and his staff gave a whole new meaning to “happy hour” on the first day of the early college football signing period..

Starting with Terrebonne High defensive tackle Maason Smith, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit according to, the Tigers bagged two five-star signees and three four-star prospects in the last three hours late Wednesday afternoon.

LSU’s 19-man haul features eight players ranked in the top 10 nationally at their positions, the No. 1 ranked players in Louisiana and Mississippi, the state of Ohio’s Mr. Football and the No. 1 ranked linebacker in junior college football.

Smith, the nation’s No. 1 rated recruit by, is a 6-5, 316-pound wrecking crew who had 63 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, and 22 QB hurries as a senior this season.

“There are other coaches at other big-time schools,” Smith told Sam Spiegelman of, “but no other coach is where he (LSU’s Orgeron) is from,” Smith said. “He’s from LaRose, La., 20 minutes from my house. I have great friends at South Lafourche (High, Orgeron’s alma mater) and he knows exactly what goes around here in the Bayou region, how people talk around here and that makes me feel at home.”

Soon after Smith signed, safety Sage Ryan of Lafayette Christian Aacdemy, rated as the second best high school safety in the nation by 247Sports and the No. 2 player in Louisiana, also signed with the Tigers.

The unexpected late signee was Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.) four-star prospect Armoni Goodwin, tabbed as the fifth-best high school running back in the nation by 247Sports. The 5-8, 190-pound Goodwin, who ran for 3,367 career years with 36 TDs, de-committed from Auburn on Nov. 30. This past season, he ran for 1,424 yards and 18 TDs.

Despite losing two commitments who flipped to Alabama, LSU is poised to finish ranked fourth nationally in the 247Sports early signing period composite recruiting rankings behind the Crimson Tide, Ohio State and Georgia.

The Tigers have signed nine offensive players (4 WR, 2 RB, QB, OT, TE), nine defensive (3 S, 2 DE, 2 LB, DT, CB) and a punter. Seven signees are from in-state and LSU has signed players from 10 states including Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Florida, Alabama and Maryland.

In early afternoon, LSU signed running back Corey Kiner of Cincinnati (Ohio) Roger Bacon High, the state of Ohio’s 2020 “Mr. Football” award winner.

“I promise you (LSU) will get a student-athlete who gives 100 percent on and off the field,” Kiner said at his signing announcement this afternoon.

The 5-9 1/2, 211-pound Kiner produced some of the biggest career numbers in Ohio High School Athletic Association history. He rushed for 7,130 yards (10th on OHSAA’s career rushing yards list), 116 rushing touchdowns (3rd), 125 total TDs (3rd) and 772 points overall (3rd).

“His skill as a football player is just exceptional,” Roger Bacon coach Mike Blaut said of Kiner. “And just everything that he could do on the field. His speed, his power, his stiff arm, his spin move — all those things. But you know to top it all off at the end of the day, he’s just a great kid.”

Kiner is the first player from Cincinnati to sign with LSU since Spencer Ware (2010-12). Ware finished the 2019 season the injured reserve list of the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

“As far as the national championship, that didn’t matter to me,” Kiner told the Cincinnati Enquirer when he committed in May. “Just the way those guys made me feel like it was home. Especially (running backs) Coach (Kevin) Faulk. He came to see me before the coronavirus stuff happened before the (NCAA recruiting) dead period. That relationship’s been building slowly but surely over time.”

LSU got some offensive firepower when it also signed Jackson (Miss.) Academy receiver Deion Smith, rated the No. 1 recruit in the state of Mississippi by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

This season, Smith caught 36 passes for 640 yards and seven touchdowns, rushed for 189 yards and two TDs and added 159 kick return yards on six attempts.

Just around lunchtime, the Tigers landed Pensacola (Fla.) Catholic cornerback Damaris McGhee.

The 6-foot, 162-pound McGhee, a one-time Tennessee commit who was uncommitted entering signing day, is a four-star prospect rated the 14th best cornerback nationally by 247Sports.

“LSU is DBU, so that had me interested right away,” McGhee told Chad Simmons of “My dream is to play in the NFL, and I know they can coach me and help me get there at LSU. (LSU cornerbacks) Coach Corey Raymond is a great coach. He is cool, he can help me and we have a strong connection. We talk a lot and I know he can develop me. We have had some strong conversations.

“I told LSU I was coming like two weeks ago. I talked to coach Raymond, I talked to coach O about it, and to hear how excited they were about having me was exciting for me to hear. It was great.”

Early in the day, Alabama flipped LSU commit Keanu Koht of Vero Beach (Fla.), a 6-4, 215-pound 4-star defensive end ranked as the No. 11th weakside DE in the nation by 247Sports. Later in the day, the Crimson Tide also swiped Tigers’ commit receiver JoJo Earle of Aledo (Texas) High.

The Tigers battled back by signing Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Navonteque Strong, rated as the nation’s top junior college linebacker. He rescinded his six-month committed to Mississippi State Tuesday. 

The Tigers also flipped from Mississippi State commit Malik Nabers, a wide receiver from Youngsville (La.) Southside.

Here are the signees so far in alphabetical order:

Jack Bech, WR, 6-2 , 215, Lafayette (La.) St. Thomas More

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 65 WR, No. 423 overall

RATING: 3 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: Hard to debate his productivity whereas a junior he led the state with 90 catches. Already college ready to play outside receiver but is flexible enough where LSU’s indicated he could be targeted as a pass-receiving tight end or H-back.

Zavier Carter, OLB, 6-4, 195, Atlanta (Ga.) Hapeville Charter

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 12 OLB, No. 203 overall

RATING: 4 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: Another undersized prospect with tremendous upside because of his aggressiveness and his ability to add strength. Has been more of a stand-up pass rusher while playing defensive end and projects as more of an outside linebacker.

Derrick Davis Jr., S, 6-1, 195, Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 4 S, No. 57 overall

RATING: 4 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: Helps to give LSU the nation’s top two safety prospects along with Sage Ryan. Terrific athlete that has the ability add weight to play either safety position or the nickel spot.

Garrett Dellinger, OT, 6-5, 280, Clarkston (Mi.) Clarkston

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 13 OT; No. 86 overall

RATING: 4 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: Has played both guard and tackle with a likely projection at tackle where LSU’s looking to stockpile talent. Good balance, strength and footwork have made him a natural pass blocker, while he’s also excelled as a run blocker.

Armomi Goodwin, RB, 5-8, 190, Hewitt-Trussville Ala.

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 5 running back. No. 94 overall

RATING: 4 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: De-committed from Auburn on Nov. 30. This past season, he ran for 1,424 yards, 18 TDs and ran for almost 10 yards per carry. He’s a Clyde Edwards-Helaire type, difficult for tackles to locate because of low center of gravity and someone who deftly squirts through creases too small for big backs. Like CEH, he’s a dangerous cutback runner.

Chris Hilton, WR, 5-11, 170, Zachary (La.) High

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 10 WR, No. 79 overall

RATING: 4 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: One of the nation’s top athletes whose resume’ includes a state high jump championship as a freshman which transfers to the football field and makes him a matchup headache for smaller corners, especially in the red zone.

Corey Kiner, RB, 5-10, 205, Cincinnati (Ohio) Roger Bacon

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 7 RB, No. 154 overall

RATING: 4 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: LSU adds another jewel to its running back stable with one of the nation’s top prospects who’s established several school career records. Thickly built frame allows him to punish defenders, break tackles and show a surprising burst

Landon Jackson, DE, 6-6, 240, Texarkana (Tx) Pleasant Grove

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 7 WDE, No. 117 overall

RATING: 4 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: One of the nation’s premier defensive ends whose ability may result in early playing time at LSU. Tremendous frame easily allows for additional weight which shouldn’t hinder his quickness in pass-rush situations.

Matthew Langlois, S, 6-0, 185, New Roads (La.) Catholic

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 47 S, No. 611 overall

RATING: 3 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: The one-time Kansas State commitment is considered one of Louisiana’s top athletes – regardless of classification. Tremendous speed, combined with his size and aggressiveness, make for quite a prospect at safety where LSU was looking to improve its depth.

Damaris McGhee, CB, 6-0, 162, Pensacola (Fla.) Catholic

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 14 CB nationally by 247Sports, No. 28 overall prospect in Florida and No. 185 nationally

RATING: 4 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: One-time Tennessee commitment selected LSU over Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Miami on signing day. Had 24 tackles and three interceptions as a senior.

Malik Nabers, WR, 6-0, 179, Youngsville (La.) Southside

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 11 rated recruit in state by Rivals, No. 53 WR overall nationally

RATING: 4 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: He was ineligible as a senior at Southside High as per LHSAA transfer rules.  Transferred from Comeaux High in Lafayette where he played football, basketball and track. As a junior, caught 58 passes for 1,223 yards and 21 TDs.

Garrett Nussmeier, QB, 6-1 1/2, 180, Flower Mound (Tx) Marcus

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 8 QB, No. 87 overall

RATING: 4 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: Will help LSU continue to strengthen the position of quarterback for years to come. Terrific athlete which is evident in his ability to extend plays, along with pin-point accuracy and high football IQ may hasten his process to the field.

Greg Penn III, Inside linebacker, 6-1, 225, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 10 ILB, No. 178 overall

RATING: 4 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: Known more as a run stopper than for his pass coverage ability but has all the tools necessary to become good at both. Great instincts and closing speed contribute to his tackling ability.

Sage Ryan, S, 5-11, 190, Lafayette (La.) Christian Academy

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 1 S, No. 29 overall

RATING: 5 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: The nation’s top-rated safety prospect made the Tigers sweat it in a heated battle with Alabama. Checks all of the boxes in a prototypical safety – speed, size, aggressiveness, high football IQ.

Jalen Shead, TE, 6-4, 240, Olive Branch (Ms.) High

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 51 TE, No. 905 overall

RATING: 3 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: LSU continues to excel in adding talent at the tight end position where they signed the No. 1 player (Arik Gilbert) a year ago. Is the perfect combination of pass-catcher and willing blocker.

Deion Smith, WR, 6-1 1/2, 175, Jackson (Ms.) Academy

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 15 WR, No. 88 overall

RATING: 4 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: One of the nation’s top receivers who even though is a bit undersized, has the ability to transition into a solid outside receiver because of his athletic ability and ability to run after the catch.

Maason Smith, DT, 6-5, 316, Houma (La.) Terrebonne High

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 2 defensive tackle and No. 18th player overall in the nation by 247Sports, No. 1 player in Louisiana

RATING: 5 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: Wanted by just about every major college football power. Big and broad with lateral range and consistent hand violence. As a senior, he recorded 63 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, and 22 QB hurries.

Navonteque Strong, LB, 6-0, 230, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 1 LB in JC by 247Sports, No. 13 overall best JC prospect

RATING: 3 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: Had two-year junior college stats of 163 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 13 ½ sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception. Helped Gulf Coast to second straight MACCC state championship game (won it in 2019).

Peyton Todd, P, 6-5, 210, West Monroe (La.) High

NATIONAL RANKING: No. 1 P, N/A overall

RATING: 3 stars

SCOUTING REPORT: Depending on the decision of senior punter Zach Von Rosenberg to return to school or opt for the NFL, the addition of the nation’s top punter could be crucial for the Tigers.

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Ron Higgins

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