It's finally here, folks. In mere hours, the newest batch of LSU talent will be donning their purple and gold hats/suspenders/baby onesies and signing their letters of intent. After years of anticipation and months of rumors and drama and way more stress than any 18-year-old should probably endure... tomorrow is the day.
It's been a long while since we've had a NSD with so many pieces in play. LSU is currently sitting at 19 commitments. Even two of those 19 are holding announcement ceremonies with the potential to flip. We are still in play with players from Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California. I've followed recruiting closely for over a decade now, and I have to say tomorrow will be the wildest LSU-related NSD that I can ever remember.
The sheer volume of prospects along with the remaining quality are unparalleled. Sure, we've endured the drama of Joe McKnight in 2007. We've seen the inevitable Ryan Perrilloux flip in 2005. We've inked top classes; we've inked solid classes. But we've never seen anything quite like this. And I say that even if LSU were to somehow completely strikeout tomorrow.
It's important to remember that tomorrow is a WIN for LSU. No matter what happens. This class will finish top 5 nationally. That's an outstanding effort, regardless of "what could have been." We will sign the nation's no. 1 overall player. And as a hidden bonus, we'll be on ESPN all damn day and if nothing else, a hat on the table of many, many big time announcements. All of that exposure does nothing but further this program's endeavors to become an elite national recruiting power.
Handy Long-form Reference
Over the past few days I've churned out preview pieces for each respective position group. Those can all be found here:
All of the following players have verbally committed to LSU. All ratings are from 247 Composite Scores.
Ed Paris, S, ****
Brandon Harris, QB, ****
Leonard Fournette, RB, *****
Clifton Garrett, LB, *****
Jamal Adams, S, *****
Trey Quinn, WR, ****
Garrett Brumfield, OG, ****
Davon Godchaux, DE/DT, ****
Deondre Clark, DE, ****
Jacory Washington, TE, ****
Devin Voorhies, ATH, ****
Will Clapp, OG, ****
Darrel Williams, RB, ****
Tony Upchurch, ATH, ****
John Battle, DB, ***
D.J. Chark, WR, ***
Donnie Alexander, LB, ***
Russell Gage, ATH, ***
Cameron Gamble, K, ***
All times listed are on CST
Sione Teuhema - Not Televised, 8:00 a.m.
Final Schools: LSU, Oklahoma State, Texas
Trey Lealaimatafao - YouTube, 8:30 a.m.
Final Schools: LSU, Oregon
Travonte Valentine - Not Televised, 9:30 a.m.
Final Schools: LSU, Miami
Kenny Young - ESPNU, 9:38 a.m.
Final Schools: LSU, Texas A&M, UCLA
Malachi Dupre - ESPNU, 9:50 a.m.
Final Schools: Alabama, FSU, LSU, Ole Miss, UCLA
Davon Godchaux - Not Televised, 10:30 a.m.
Final Schools: Auburn, LSU, UCLA
Derrick Kelly Jr. - Not Televised, 1:00 p.m.
Final Schools: Florida, FSU, LSU
Adoree' Jackson - ESPNU, 1:05 p.m.
Final Schools: Florida, LSU, UCLA, USC
Deondre Clark - Not Televised, 2:00 p.m.
Final Schools: LSU, OU
Lorenzo Carter - ESPN, 2:40 p.m.
Final Schools: Florida, FSU, Georgia, LSU
Emanuel Porter - Not Televised, Unknown
Final Schools: LSU, Texas, TCU
Paul's Fearless Predictions
If you asked me to make these picks in three hours, I might give you a different set of names. There is that much unknown on the horizon. So I'll go one by one and give a brief explanation for each remaining target.
Trey Lealaimatafao - LSU
LSU came on late for Lealaimatafao, but he's developed a budding relationship with Jacory Washington and took it upon himself to visit in January when he had only one remaining official visit left, which was committed to Oregon. Lealaimatafao is the right combination of positional need for LSU and the pieces falling into place. He decommitted from Texas after Mack Brown stepped down, his sister lives in Baton Rouge and goes to Southern and he's made fast friends with a couple of LSU commits. He could shock and go Oregon, but I think all signs point to the Tigahs on this one.
Malachi Dupre - LSU
For the longest time, Dupre's been considered a heavy LSU lean. For months, his Crystal Ball sat at 100% LSU predictions. After cramming in five official visits in a couple of weeks, many are questioning if LSU is still his top choice. He's thrown around hefty praise for FSU, Ole Miss and UCLA. The appeal of FSU and UCLA is quite obvious. Yet, I still think the home team wins out. It's no shock that he'd be impressed when schools are rolling out the red carpet for him, but he's a guy who nearly committed on the spot the day LSU originally offered. The coaches have put in the time. In a radio interview just yesterday he talked about how the bond is so tight that he now talks about more than football with the coaches. I don't think it's lost on him how big of a need he fills for LSU, and he'll reward their efforts.
Kenny Young - Texas A&M
Based on Crystal Ball picks, UCLA is the favorite here, but there have been picks roll in for each of his three main contenders in the past 24 hours. Just yesterday Young tweeted "Gooooo Aggies!" And followed that up by telling A&M commit Frank Iheanacho, "Let's get it!" What recruits say on social media can be fool's gold, but it's worth noting that Young's teammate Mattrell McGraw will also decide tomorrow between Oregon and Texas A&M. He's considered an Oregon lean, so that may have no impact on his decision.
I've thought for a while Kenny may head out of state. He did have a lengthy phone conversation with Frank Wilson on Monday that reportedly left him thinking hard about things. But I'll stick with my gut here and say he heads to A&M and be pleasantly surprised if he doesn't.
Travonte Valentine - LSU
Next to Malachi Dupre, Valentine is arguably the most important player left on LSU's board. Missing on Gerald Willis put LSU in further need to add DL bodies to this class, and Valentine is a big one. He's been committed to Florida, Miami and Louisville at various points in the process, but I think the writing is on the wall with this decision. Valentine was scheduled to visit Miami last weekend and opted to skip. It'd be a major upset if he chose Miami tomorrow.
Davon Godchaux - LSU
Godchaux's been committed to LSU since September and never seemed to waver until recently. He decided he wanted to take a couple of visits, proclaiming all the while that he was 100% committed to LSU. However much his handling of this may have irked me, I do think the kid just genuinely wanted to take the chance to take a couple of free trips and feel wanted. Based on what I've seen, he's less having an announcement tomorrow than just signing his letter of intent, so I expect that to be LSU. If he does opt for UCLA or Auburn, well, good luck out there young'en.
Derrick Kelly Jr. - Florida
Just one week ago, Kelly's reported finalists were LSU and FSU. He left his Baton Rouge visit very impressed and subsequently never made his previously scheduled trip to Tallahassee (unsure if he or FSU canceled). That lead many, including myself to be confident that'd he wind up in Baton Rouge.
In the past few days, picks have started to roll in for Florida. Kelly announced his final two would be LSU and UF, though FSU is still lingering if they are able to find room. It's all a bit worrisome. I THOUGHT he'd pick LSU, because the UF information seems to have come from seemingly nowhere. That said, the UF side seems confident and distance may have come into play here.
Adoree' Jackson - LSU
Here's your shocker. Jackson's recruitment has been a long, winding cycle. If you haven't yet, go read this piece about him. He's a remarkable young kid. And perhaps I'm just tossing on my purple and gold shades when I read that article, but it seemed awful favorable toward LSU. Perhaps it's the seeming annoyance of his HS coach with the USC staff, the fact that he said Adoree' is a kid that he's "such a feel kid," and then later detailing that Adoree' was most excited to see Les Miles of all the coaches?
Recruiting is almost nearly about reading the tea leaves. Most recruits aren't nearly as hard to decipher as Adoree' has been. I can safely say that I think no one truly knows where he's headed, maybe not even himself at this point. But for me, when I play connect the dots, LSU makes the most sense (and yes, I realize I'm trying to apply logic and reason to recruiting, but go with me here).
Here's what we know:
- He wants to long jump in college and work toward the 2016 Olympics
- LSU's long jumper just captured a National Championship to add to the lengthy history of track success
- He wants to at least try both sides of the ball
- LSU is open to this idea as evidenced by sending Cam Cameron and John Chavis for the final in home
- He's originally from a small town in Illinois, not California
- Of his four finalists, LSU is the only school he officially visited
- He has not been to Florida since June of 2013
- He did visit UCLA and USC unofficially, this past weekend, but reports vary as to seriousness/length of those visits.
- Before visiting UCLA/USC he called LSU coaches to ease any concerns about the visits.
- He did NOT call Florida coaches to do the same.
- He likes Les Miles.
I know, I'm walking down a black hole here. It's all probably a silly mental exercise. But to me, there's just something there. I think Adoree is a kid that marches to his own drummer. He wants to do things his way. From all reports this is HIS decision, not his parents or others. From reading the ESPN article above, he reminds me a lot of Patrick Peterson. He's a kid, in a confident but not brash way, that can just smell his own greatness. I think he wants to write his own story, and I think the LSU coaches may have done a masterful job of selling him on how LSU is just the place to do it at.
Lorenzo Carter - UGA
After being on the fringes for most of his recruitment, LSU brought a heavy press late in the process. I think the LSU coaches feel, or at least felt, that they are in prime position to steal Carter's services right out of Georgia. Les and Brick apparently made quite the impression on his family. Reports of his interest seem to vary. Some say the hiring of Pruitt helped UGA, others say it hurt. Some say Florida fell out of favor due to their struggles, others think that's the choice. Some think FSU may be in prime position to swoop in. The crystal ball is heavily tilted to UGA.
We've known Brick Haley to pull signing day surprises, but I'm not sure this is one he can pull off. It seems UGA has endured the transition of a new defensive staff and done just enough to keep the Georgia product home.
Deondre Clark - OU
I think LSU did all they could to ensure Clark would ink to the Tigers tomorrow, but I'm not sure it will be enough. Mama is openly and vocally pushing him to stay home and attend OU. I think she may win out. I hope that I'm wrong.
Emanuel Porter - LSU
There's no real way to get a read on this situation because there's been almost no information since his official visit. We do know that Cam Cameron stopped in last Saturday for an in-home. Word leaked today that TCU threw out a late offer to another tall WR, could that be a tell of Porter's intentions? Or completely unrelated?
I'm going with LSU because I think the opportunity for playing time and the fact that, well, LSU > TCU will be enough to push him to Baton Rouge. But I don't feel an extreme amount of confidence in that, either.
Sione Teuhema - LSU
A late surprise and a BIG one. Teuhema was a long time Texas commit before showing up in Baton Rouge last weekend for a surprise visit. Before picking the Longhorns, many presumed he was an LSU lean. He and his younger brother, 5-star OT Maea Teuhema, are a package deal. Further, their cousin, Patrick Vahe, is a 4-star OG currently committed to Texas.
By flipping Teuhema, LSU stands to gain the commitments of 5-star and 4-star 2015 offensive linemen. All of the crystal ball picks are trending LSU. In fact, the Teuhema's decommitted today. This one is LSU.
You can follow all the LOIs rolling in on LSU's official site HERE.
I have LSU with a big close on National Signing Day, one that will place them firmly as the no. 2 class in the nation and squarely in the middle of national recruiting discussions all day long. I feel most confident about the following prospects picking LSU:
Valentine, Lealaimatafao, Teuhema, Godchaux and Dupre.
Excluding Dupre from the above list, I'd be surprised if any of the other four picked anywhere else. Jackson is clearly my pick for signing day surprise. Kelly I'm uncertain about with the recent Florida news and Porter because there's such little information available about him, though the Crystal Ball favors LSU.
Assuming LSU can pull Dupre, and a couple of the DL, this is an excellent, excellent class that hits on every position. This is the type of class National Championships are born from.
If Dupre elects to go elsewhere, it'll be quite the blow to the class both from the standpoint of losing yet another top-flight Louisiana prospect AND because of the extreme need for playmakers at the WR position.
At any rate, enjoy the day. Follow me on Twitter. I will be up and at 'em early, talking 'crootin and all kinds of mess all day long. Stick around ATVS, because we'll have plenty of content here, as well, including our usual open thread. I may even, if I can work up the gumption, do a live Google Hangout to talk about the class.