Some may have questioned the coaching ability of Kevin Steele when he was first hired, but fans made no mistake about it, he can recruit. Once a National Recruiter of the Year, the pot got a little sweeter when another former National Recruiter of the Year joined the squad in Coach O. Team them up with Corey Raymond, who has made an imprint throughout Florida and you have a recipe for a recruiting force that has been rarely seen before.
With the shoddy effort put forth by John Chavis before departing for College Station and a lack of emphasis from Brick Haley, the 2015 class put the pressure on the new staff and Raymond to put together an impressive 2016 class. Who are they looking at? Come on and take a look.
First, The Lone Committee
Clifford Chattman, S/LB: Kevin Steele picked up his first defensive recruit for 2016 in the safety/linebacker hybrid Clifford Chattman from McDonogh 35. The lanky 6'4", 175-pounder will be asked to put on weight, maybe some significant weight to become an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense Steele is seeking to implement.
With that, let's look at some of the recruits of interest who LSU is targeting that could possibly be one of the best defensive classes to come to LSU.
Chidi Okonya: Another recent offer, Okonya is listed as a defensive end, but at 6'5", 216-pounds, he may be a prime candidate for an OLB in Steele's 3-4 system.
Erick Fowler: The Texas defensive end has said he grew up an LSU fan, now it will be O and Steele's job to turn that fandom into a commit.
Josh Brown: One of the first d-line recruits offered by Orgeron, Brown is committed to Florida State and could be a tough pull to convince him otherwise.
McTelvin Agim: One of the more recent offers, LSU will look to overcome Oklahoma, Texas and in-state Arkansas if they want this pass-rusher.
Prince Sammons: When O said he would seek out the best players from across the country, offering the massive "Too Tall" Jones defensive end out of Ohio. Beating in-state defending national champ Ohio State will be a tough task, but I think Orgeron is up for the job.
Recruits of Interest
Andre Anthony: Kevin Steele will give a strong look at Anthony to bulk up and put in as a linebacker, listed as a 205-pound defensive end.
Shavar Manuel: Expect to hear a lot about the LSU coaches heading to IMG Academy in Florida in the coming year after they have put together a team full of top-tier recruits.
Willie Baker: Baker came close this past weekend to picking up an offer and could easily get one if he puts together a solid camp showing.
Antwuan Jackson: Hercules, as he refers to himself, picked up an offer recently which shows this staff has a high priority on him with the group of in-state talent that is available.
Briston Guidry: An impressive video helped get Guidry a deserved offer and he could become a defensive end in the 3-4 system.
Ed Oliver: LSU already has one top-ten player in the state of Texas, Oliver could very likely make it two. Definitely helps that we reeled in his teammate Toby Weathersby on NSD.
Edwin Alexander: The once LSU commit will of course be at the center of O's eyes as one of the top DTs in the nation.
Glen Logan: The Destrehan product may have the perfect size as a 3-4 DE and should be a major target for this d-line class.
Julian Rochester: One of the top defensive tackles in the class, but with the in-state and Texas DTs, they may not have to pursue him.
Kendell Jones: Jones amazed those in attendance at the LSU camps last year with his freakish size. While some work on his technique needs to be done, Coach O could definitely be the one to coach him up.
Rashard Lawrence: You know who the first person Orgeron went to visit after being hired? Yeah, this guy and for good reason. He, along with Alexander are the cornerstones for this defensive line class.
Stephon Taylor: Taylor must've impressed Orgeron enough because even with a loaded defensive tackle class, he still earned an offer, and with his McDonogh 35 teammate Clifford Chattman already committed, he may soon follow suit.
Ben Davis: There's a number of talented linebackers in the state of Alabama for the 2016 class. Look for Steele, who comes from the Crimson Tide, to try and steal one to Baton Rouge.
Caleb Kelly: The top recruit in California, Kelly is a strong lean to Oklahoma, which can be taken as a good aspect in that he is obviously not afraid to leave the West Coast.
Daniel Bituli: One thing Chavis did have is an impact in Tennessee, resulting in Bituli getting an offer. Look for Steele to build a new relationship with the top recruit.
Keion Joyner: One of, if not the, biggest target for Kevin Steele, Joyner has family in Abbeville and has a strong interest in LSU, even before Steele got here.
Krys Barnes: Another recent offer, Barnes' biggest offers to date are in-state USC and LSU. Look for Eaux to use his time at USC to try an establish a West Coast connection.
Lyndell Wilson: Like Ben Davis, Lyndell is another Alabama target Steele has his eyes on.
Michael Divinity: With a new and motivated linebackers coach, Divinity took a strong liking in Steele, who reciprocated the interest. Outside of Joyner, Divinity may be linebacker target No. 2.
Recruits of Interest
De'jon Harris: A linebacker teammate of Michael Divinity, Harris could be another one that could shine in the camp circuit.
Dontavious Jackson: Likely the best linebacker in the state of Texas, one could imagine he may be one of the next to receive an offer at the position.
Malcolm Roach: Here is one that could find himself earning an offer with an impressive camp showing. With a good size/speed combination, he has the potential to be a Kendall Beckwith-esque MLB.
Andraez Williams: Better known by the nickname "Greedy," Williams came close to committing to LSU last summer but decided to wait it out. LSU is still in the driver's seat, but be prepared for an Ole Miss push with teammate and soon-to-be Ole Miss commit Shea Patterson and Shea's ill-tempered family to help make a strong effort at him.
Chad Clay: A recently-announced top 4 put LSU in the lead for Clay, but with a number of top prospects at the position, Clay may have to show out some at the camps. Also, reeling in Clay likely helps with top 2017 recruit Deangelo Gibbs, along with bringing some help to Johnny Jones with 2016 basketball recruit Kodi Augustus.
John Broussard: LSU jumped out to an early lead with Broussard, but has recently felt pressure from Auburn. Expect that heat to be turned up once the coaches can get back on the road.
Khalil Ladler: Some folks on Georgia boards believe LSU leaders for the Georgia product, but I wouldn't be shocked in the least to see him stay in-state with the Bulldogs with the guys LSU could pull in.
Kristian Fulton: With a slight lead over Shyheim Carter for the top corner in Louisiana, Fulton has been a major target for Raymond and could join this class at any time.
Levonta Taylor: Heading out to the East Coast, Taylor may stay out there but that doesn't mean Raymond is going to stop his pursuit of a top-five corner.
Saivion Smith: Another one of those top IMG Academy recruits, it brings more reason to just have an LSU coach live on the campus of the school. That's allowed right?
Shyheim Carter: An Alabama commitment since July of last year, don't expect LSU to stop pursuing Carter anytime soon, especially with him attending Boys From The Boot.
Trayvon Mullen: You can almost consider Pompano Beach, Fla., to be an LSU pipeline at this point. Mullin has stated on several occasions that LSU is the leader and you could see him pull the trigger before his senior season starts.
Brandon Jones: The state of Texas boasts the top three safeties in the country, Jones rounds out that bunch. Unlike the other two, it seems Jones is more than likely A&M-bound, but expect Raymond to keep the pressure on him.
Cameron Lewis: The top in-state safety, Lewis came close to committing, but could do so in a month with his parents in tow this go-around.
Deontay Anderson: One of only two out-of-state recruits to attend Boys From The Boot (commit Dee Anderson being the other), Anderson appears to be an LSU-A&M battle, but watch for Alabama to make a late push.
Eric Monroe: Once stating LSU was his leader, it seems Texas A&M has since jumped out to the lead or at the very least make into the lead pack. Expect the staff to try and get Monroe back on campus to re-ignite that love for LSU.
Joejuan Williams: Rated as a cornerback for the time being, Williams will likely play safety at the next level. Chavis and his Tennessee connections started this interest, but the ace recruiter Raymond will look to strengthen his bond and overcome the Chavis departure.
Joshua Perry: Perry seemed to confuse some last summer in "committing" to LSU. It didn't come to fruition then, but not many other teams are going after Perry under the assumption he will finish at LSU.
Recruits to Watch
Nehemiah Augustus: There always seems to be one or two recruits that the message boards fall in love with every recruiting cycle. Augustus appears to be one of those kids, but will have to show at camps his height is not a detriment to his ability. He could also catch the eye of Steele and move down to linebacker.
It's a sight to see that LSU is the leader or in the lead pack for a number of the top defensive recruits in the nation, all of this coming before two former National Recruiter of the Year's joined the fray. Expect the trio of Orgeron, Steele and Raymond to show they are a force to be reckoned with and possibly make this the best defensive class in LSU history.