As expected, No. 1 LSU has parlayed its undefeated season into what appears to be a top three national signing class judging by the start the Tigers had Wednesday on the first day of the early signing period.
By 2 p.m, the Tigers had 17 signees including three each of offensive linemen, defensive linemen and linebackers, two quarterbacks, two wide receivers and a cornerback, a safety, a tight end and a multi-position athlete.
Eight of the 17 signees will enroll in January, including Ponchatoula High quarterback TJ Finley who plans to join LSU in bowl practice this week. The NCAA allows early signees to do this, but the signees aren’t eligible to play in postseason games.
The Tigers also have four signees in this class rated as the No. 1 prospect in their respective states by recruiting services.
The highest rated prospects in the class are five-star prospects multi-purpose athlete Arik Gilbert and cornerback Elias Ricks.
Gilbert, from football-rich Marietta (Ga,) High, became the first tight end ever to win Gatorade National Player of the Year. He had 243 career catches for 3,540 yards (90.8 yards per game) and 35 TDs. As a senior for the Georgia Class 7A state champions, he had 101 receptions for 1,760 yards (117.3 yards per game) and 14 TDs.
Ricks led Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., to back-to-back national championships before transferring this season to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida where he’s ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect in the state by 247Sports, MaxPreps and Rivals. He had 14 solo tackles and three interceptions this season.
The two quarterback signees are Max Johnson of Watkinsville Oconee County (Ga.) High and Finley.
Johnson, son of Super Bowl-winning quarterback Brad Johnson threw for 5,140 career yards and 47 TDs and ran 289 yards and 14 TDs. As a senior, he threw for 2,143 yards and 30 TDs with only five interceptions.
Finley was a three-year starter who threw for 7,357 career yards with 72 touchdowns (58 passing, 14 rushing). As a senior, he passed for 2,738 and 21 TDs and rushed for eight TDs.