Yes, Robert, I can hear you. - Streeter Lecka
Greeting recruitniks, it's National Signing Day Eve and the phone lines are buzzing though generally without much answer. If you haven't yet, take some time to dive into Kris Brauner's outstanding coverage of this recruiting class in the LSU Signing Day 2013 Preview. Kris did an amazing job covering all the current commits, so this space won't spend much time there.
The Current Class
There's almost nothing that could happen to make tomorrow a bad day for LSU. All reports indicate that all current LSU commits are locks to sign their LOIs, which is good news after a weekend of consternation regarding Frank Herron, who had this to tweet today.
Seven of LSU's 27 commitments are already enrolled, which is especially good news for the two top-tier QBs.
Of the rest, the lone guy that may offer even a shred of worry is Josh Boutte. Boutte visited ULL over the weekend and is apparently quite close to his girlfriend who is in school there. Boutte has assured the coaches he will sign and he remained in contact with the staff all weekend, but it's worth keeping on the radar in the very least. I expect he will sign with LSU.
The are three commitments with serious academic questions: Jeremy Cutrer, Rashard Robinson and Quantavious Leslie. Cutrer's situation is well-documented. There's been some discussion about whether the staff will allow him to sign tomorrow or not, but I'm suspecting not. As for Robinson and Leslie, both have work to do, but the staff is prepared to allow both to sign. Leslie tweeted out that LSU held up their end of the bargain and now he needed to hold up his. Between he and Robinson, Leslie is probably the more "important" piece. As we saw all season, LSU lacked big-time receiving targets, and while Leslie isn't in the Coradarrelle Patterson realm, he's quite good. Certainly good enough to play right away. He needs to pass two classes to qualify, while Robinson needs to boost his ACT. There's a decent chance both get in.
Keep in mind, the max players LSU can sign is 25 without penalty. If they go over, they will lose two scholarships in 2014. Some suggest that it may be worth that loss depending on who takes the remaining spots... but I'm not sure how to feel about that. 2014 looks like a very, very special class in the making. You'd hate to lose spots off of it.
Reportedly, LSU will back count both Fehoko Fanaika and Avery Johnson. If Cutrer fails to qualify as expected, that sets the overall total at 24, meaning only one spot remains... and frankly, if it remains unfilled, this is still a great class.
Clearly all eyes will be on Robert Nkemdiche tomorrow morning. He announces at 6:30 AM CST. LSU made a strong, strong impression on Nkemdiche during his visit and certainly gave the big fella a lot to think about. Nkemdiche is probably not in the Jadeveon Clowney realm of other-worldliness (who is?), but he's a pretty special talent.
Even turning off my LSU homerism, the draw is LSU is obvious. Recent success. Number of DL going to the NFL. National TV. Chance to play for National Titles. Chance to play in the SEC. Thin depth chart means opportunity to start tomorrow. I've long thought Nkemdiche to LSU made an awful lot of logistical sense.
But recruiting isn't a sense game. Despite the strong impression, most seem to believe Nkemdiche will stick to his guns and follow Father Hugh into Oxford. I won't say that's a bad decision, but that's a bad decision. Look, Nkemdiche will get his money no matter what. But if he was really sold on the "Building something special at Ole Miss" fraudulent bill of rights, well... best of luck to him.
If he does pick Ole Miss as expected, LSU fans will have a headache to deal with the next three seasons.
Prediction: Ole Miss
Bower is a hot name that surfaced over the past couple of weeks, after he visited Baton Rouge a couple of weekends ago. Recently, LSU felt they were in great shape to land Bower. Today, he announced his three finalists are LSU, UF and Auburn (where he's currently committed). Reading the tea leaves, this is an LSU/UF battle, and it seems to be a coin flip.
Bower isn't the Frank Herron/Robert Nkemdiche level of player, but he's still a very good one. He's got raw, brute strength and honestly reminds me more of Michael Brockers (long frame that will fill out but naturally strong) than, say, Sam Montgomery. Landing Bower would cap an already stout LSU DL class.
That being said, most of the pub seems to be that he will choose Florida tomorrow. I can't fault Bower for that choice. I'm hoping he picks LSU (obviously), but I'll stick to my gut on this one...
Willis is a long-coveted DB prospect from Arizona. Throughout the process it seemed as if LSU held on to the driver's seat, though Willis remained generally positive about each school he visited and liked. For a good while, many believed he and good buddy Tahaan Goodman were a package deal. Whether or not that is actually true it did wind up that way, as both committed to UCLA a couple of weeks ago.
LSU, for its part, never seemed tremendously interested in Goodman. He seemed to almost be pleading for an offer or visit on Twitter at times, and it never came to fruition. Still they remained steadfast in their pursuit of Priest, even after he publicly announced for UCLA. Days later Miles and co. wound up taking their in-home and this one isn't considered to be over...
The major reported factor here is that Willis' parents supposedly prefer LSU to UCLA. Miles, as he often does, made a good impression on mom and pops. Still, it seemed Willis would wind up at UCLA until... today... he suddenly delayed his signing until Friday. For LSU fans this will bring about memories of Janzen Jackson, but no two recruits are alike, so hold off on the character assassination just yet. It's a difficult decision, and if the kid and parents haven't come to terms yet... then why should he sign? Priest's mom will return home on Friday, which is the given reason for his delay (just like Jackson), but to me, this one has all the pieces in place...
Eddie Jackson, Artie Burns, Jamal Carter and Ricky Seals-Jones
LSU flirted with and/or outright pursued some of these guys, but they've all given pledges elsewhere. I don't expect any movement on this front, though there's been on and off internet chatter about all of them. I wouldn't expect any of these guys to be Tigers when the ink dries tomorrow.
Turning an Eye to 2014
Les Miles churns out quality recruiting classes like a factory line.
Idiots Skeptics will say LSU recruits itself, but clearly they weren't around in, oh, the 90s? The 2013 class will range anywhere from grass-eating good to damn strong, but the 2014 class could truly enter that special realm.
It's not uncommon for the start of every recruiting cycle to feature most every top recruit in the country citing LSU as a school of interest, but generally you can sort through those and already know how few of them will actually wind up in purple and gold. What makes 2014 unique is that kids are saying it... and LSU's got outrageously great chances to get a good many of them.
For instance, let's just take a gander at 247's 2014 rankings.
7 of the top 100 are from Louisiana. Consider that at this time last year Tre White was a nobody from a small school in northern Louisiana... and that gives you an idea of the talent level in the state.
And that's just in-state guys. Edward Paris, Kain Daub, and Tony Brown are all 5-star talents that rank LSU high (well who knows on Daub, but LSU is the odds on favorite for both Paris and Brown).
Did I mention they already have three commits? Devin Voorhies is a top 100 talent that I imagine LSU will have to out minister Hugh Freeze to hang on to, though William Clapp and Jacory Washington are two in-state kids that will likely be this class' biggest advocates.
When I mentioned earlier that I didn't love the idea of giving up two spots in this class for an extra guy in 2013... I meant it. If the final two spots were Willis and Nkemdiche, I could probably get over it. If we give up a 2014 spot for Bower... I'll be less thrilled.
Tomorrow will be a great day, Tiger fan. Pop open an Abita, root on all the signees and get ready to see some great football played over the next four years.