By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
In recent years, National Signing Day, for LSU fans, has been a bit of a bore.
Sure, there have been some surprises – good and bad. LSU has, on the last couple of Signing Days, flipped the likes of Tashawn Bower, Lloyd Cushenberry, and Derrick Dillon, while losing players like Erick Fowler and Torshiro Davis. Some guys making announcements on the first Wednesday in February have ruled in favor of LSU – Malachi Dupre and Kristian Fulton come to mind. Others, like Trayvon Mullen last year, picked to play elsewhere.
For the most part, though, the Tigers have had a pretty good idea of how Signing Day was going to play out, with as much certainty as an endeavor like recruiting 18-year-olds can permit. Things have basically been wrapped up before 9 a.m., as many players send in their faxes while the coffee is still brewing.
In 2017, however, all bets are off. LSU enters this year’s final day of recruiting with as many balls in the air and hats on the table as in any year previous.
This makes sense, of course. The Tigers are coming off a season which saw a midseason coaching change, after Joe Alleva handed Les Miles his walking papers at the end of September. Then came two months of uncertainty, as Alleva promoted Ed Orgeron to interim head coach but continued to search nationally for the full-time replacement to Miles. That stretch of time, from Miles’ firing to Orgeron’s eventual hiring on a permanent basis, set LSU back on the trail. The Tigers limited in-season official visitors to save as many visits as possible for January, when a head coaching solution would be set in stone.
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In 2017, all bets are off. LSU enters this year’s Signing Day with as many balls in the air and hats on the table as in any year previous.
In the meantime, though, Orgeron and co. held on to a strong core of commits, like safety JaCoby Stevens, offensive lineman Austin Deculus, and, despite a few waves during the search for an offensive coordinator, quarterbacks Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse. They added guys like Stephen Guidry, the No. 1 wide receiver in the junior college ranks, and made inroads with elite uncommitted players who’d become priorities after the season.
Hence the late shuffle. Orgeron and his staff crammed as many guys as they could into three weekends of visits in January, looking to take a class they’d kept ranked at No. 6 nationally, according to 247Sports, and springboard it into the top five.
Thanks to some excellent work, that could very well happen – something no current SEC coach has done in his first year on the recruiting trail.
Here’s how it can happen:
LSU is the favorite for five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, who is among the five best players in the entire country. If the Tigers fend off Texas and Florida State for his signature, they’ll vault up the rankings and add a program-defining noseguard to their already talented stable of defensive linemen.
Wilson’s commitment, if it happens, could directly lead to fellow five-star K’Lavon Chaisson joining the fray. An Arden Key clone, Chaisson has interest in both Texas and Colorado, but LSU has to feel good about where it sits heading into the home stretch.
Then, there’s in-state guys like five-star receiver Devonta Smith and four-star safety Todd Harris. Smith warmed to LSU late with the addition of Matt Canada to the offensive staff, and Harris would join five-star Stevens and four-star Grant Delpit to form perhaps the best safety trio LSU – or any other school – has ever signed.
Add in Neville defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis, four-star linebackers Willie Gay and Tyler Taylor, wide out Nico Collins, and a few other names, and LSU still has a lot of pieces in play to add around an already solid class.
It’s a credit to Orgeron, recruiting coordinator Dameyune Craig, and general manager Austin Thomas, along with the rest of LSU’s staff, for keeping the foundations of a great class in place. Anything added on Signing Day is, to speak in the tongue of Orgeron’s Cajun brethren, lagniappe.
Of course, things could go poorly in the final hours. Everyone remembers “5 for 5,” when LSU thought it might land all of Speedy Noil, Gerald Willis, Tony Brown, Leonard Fournette, and Jamal Adams in January 2014. The Tigers ended up taking ‘only’ two – those two turned out okay, eh? – and every recruiting observer learned an important lesson about how the whole process works.
But, this year, that’d be alright. The staff has put in place a class that can compete for championships as it stands today. When the calendar flips from January to February at midnight, there’s no need to have the panic button ready for pressing. To be sure, there will be more players to come on Wednesday. Whether or not they are as elite or numerous as fans may hope remains to be seen.
What’s certain, though, is that Wednesday will be a Signing Day to remember. Buckle up, folks. Things are about to get weird.