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LSU Football Recruiting 2016: Assessing 2016 Signing Class Needs

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What positions will LSU targets for the 2016 Signing Class?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Not even a month removed from putting the 2015 signing class in the books, and the staff is already aggressively pursuing 2016 recruits. Realistically, many of these prospects were identified, two, even three years ago. LSU's Director of Player Personnel, Austin Thomas, identified a major key to successful recruiting is early identification:

"The way it is these days, coaches are getting scholarship offers out there earlier and earlier," [Thomas] says. "Prospects have to be identified earlier and earlier."

Thomas added he hopes to have his top 200 prospects for 2017 completed by this summer. It's a big reason LSU's class currently sits nearly a third complete, with seven commitments:

Let's take a look at the current depth chart, position by position and identify our recruiting needs for 2016.

Quarterback

2016 Roster (4)

Brandon Bergeron Senior
Anthony Jennings Senior
Brandon Harris Junior
Justin McMillan RS Freshman

Commitments (1)

Feleipe' Franks 4 Star

That list is in no way a reflection of an actual depth chart. Realistically, there are three scholarship QBs here. It's already pretty well known LSU would like to take a pair of quarterbacks in this class. The question is, who fills that second spot?

Need: 2

Running Back/Fullback

Current Roster (6)

Leonard Fournette Junior
Darrell Williams Junior
Derrius Guice Sophomore
Nick Brossette Sophomore
Lanard Fournette Sophomore
David Ducre Sophomore

Commitments (0)

Ducre is the roster's only scholarship fullback, though they've found success with walk-ons in that role. Five backs is a good crew, especially since none should be leaving for at least two years. The staff has only offered two running backs for 2016 thus far. One of those players (Devin White) is potentially a LB at the next level. I wouldn't be surprised if the staff took 0 backs.

Need: 1 (maybe)

Wide Receiver

Current Roster (12)

Travin Dural RS Senior
Avery Peterson RS Junior
John Diarse RS Junior
Malachi Dupre Junior
Kevin Spears RS Junior
DJ Chark Junior
Trey Quinn Junior
Tony Upchurch FS Sophomore
Tyron Johnson Sophomore
Jazz Ferguson Sophomore
Brandon Martin Sophomore
Derrick Dillon Sophomore

Commitments (2)

Stephen Sullivan 4 Star
Dee Anderson 4 Star

12 scholarship WRs and none are a sure bet to leave after the 2015 season. That's a somewhat astounding number that looks more like a team that runs more spread sets than 22 personnel. I suspect Travin Dural make take the plunge to the NFL after this season, considering he already flirted with the idea last season. Additionally, Brandon Martin is likely to not qualify. That still would put LSU with 10 WRs, quite the group. The number needed will depend on whether Martin gets qualified. If yes, then two should suffice. If no, then the staff will likely add three.

Need: 2 or 3

Tight End

Current Roster (7)

Colin Jeter Senior
Desean Smith Senior
Jacory Washington RS Sophomore
Bry'Kiethon Mouton Sophomore
Hanner Shipley Sophomore
Foster Moreau RS Freshman

Commitments (1)

Jamal Pettigrew 4 Star

LSU will lose only Dillon Gordon for certain after the 2015 season. Desean Smith is a candidate to declare early, based on his athletic tools and potential expanded role in the offense (if you extrapolate the bowl gameplan some). Assuming he stays, that puts LSU at six players. I could see the staff adding another TE in this class, but one would also be sufficient.

Need: 1 or 2

Offensive Line

2016 Roster (12)

Jerald Hawkins RS Senior
Jevonte Domond Senior
Josh Boutte Senior
K.J. Malone RS Junior
Andy Dodd RS Junior
Will Clapp RS Sophomore
Garrett Brumfield RS Sophomore
Toby Weathersby Sophomore
Maea Teuhema Sophomore
Chidi Valentine-Okeke Sophomore
Adrian Magee RS Freshman
George Brown RS Freshman

Commitments (1)

Donavaughn Campbell 4 Star

12 players is a good number. I'm almost certain that number will be 11, so long as Hawkins isn't injured or tremendously disappointing this season. Even with seven freshmen, I think LSU will continue to add depth and add another two or three commitments to go along with Campbell.

Need: 3 or 4

Defensive End

2016 Roster (7)

Tashawn Bower Senior
Lewis Neal Senior
Sione Teuhema Junior
Deondre Clark Junior
M.J. Patterson RS Junior
Isaiah Washington Sophomore
Arden Key Sophomore

Commitments (0)

Bower will both be draft eligible and may explore that route. I don't consider Lewis Neal a threat to leave early. LSU is exceptionally young and deep on the DL at this point, but they will want to add more bodies. Adding an impact DE should be a major priority in this class.

Need: 2 or 3

Defensive Tackle

2016 Roster (14)

Christian LaCouture Senior
Greg Gilmore RS Junior
Maquedius Bain RS Junior
Davon Godchaux Junior
Frank Herron RS Junior
Trey Lealaimatafao RS Sophomore
Travonte Valentine RS Sophomore

Commitments (0)

LaCouture will be draft eligible after this season and could look to explore his opportunity there. There's a mega talented haul of DTs in the state of Louisiana this season, not to mention some OOS studs with strong interesting in LSU. I suspect the staff will take three or four players here.

Need: 3 or 4

Linebacker

2016 Roster (5)

Ronnie Feist Senior
Duke Riley Senior
Kendell Beckwith Senior
Donnie Alexander Junior
Clifton Garrett Junior

Commitments (1)

Clifford Chattman 3 Star

The single biggest need of the 2016 signing class. Beckwith is a candidate to leave early, meaning LSU could enter 2015 with only four scholarship LBs, a dangerous proposition without any roster tinkering. The staff is well aware of the need and hitting the position hard thus far. I suspect LSU will take five players at LB.

Need: 4 or 5

Cornerback

2016 Roster (6)

Tre'Davious White Senior
Ed Paris Junior
Russell Gage Junior
Kevin Toliver II Sophomore
Donte Jackson Sophomore
Xavier Lewis Sophomore

Commitments (1)

Saivion Smith 5 Star

Tre White is almost a sure bet to leave early, meaning LSU sits with only five scholarship corners, assuming no position changes. Considering the lack of depth at LB, LSU will likely play a lot of nickel in 2016, meaning additional depth is needed. There's a high number of DBs on the board, and I suspect LSU will take another two or three corners.

Need: 3 or 4

Saftey

2016 Roster (6)

Corey Thompson Senior
Jeremy Cutrer Senior
Rickey Jefferson Senior
John Battle Junior
Jamal Adams Junior
Devin Voorhies Junior

Commitments (0)

Six could quickly become five if Devin Voorhies makes the shift to LB as many have hinted at. Similar to CB, LSU is hot after safeties, and I expect they will sign two or three.

Need: 2 or 3

Specialists

Long Snapper

2016 Roster (1)

Blake Ferguson RS Freshman

Punter/Kicker

2016 Roster (5)

Colby Delahoussaye Senior
Trent Domingue Senior
Cameron Gamble Junior
Kyle Pfau RS Sophomore
Josh Growden RS Freshman

Commitments (0)

Les typically likes to add a specialist a class, but this may be the year to skip a beat.

Need: 0

Summary

Let's quote each high end projection for each position of need:

Quarterback 2
Running Back 1
Wide Receiver 3
Tight End 2
Offensive Line 5
Defensive Line 5
Linebacker 5
Cornerback 3
Safety 2
Specialist 0

That's a 28 man signing class. Honestly, it's not entirely unrealistic if the staff can find a way to back count some players. If not, you can fudge down on RB, WR, TE, and one of either DL or OL and I think you'd be just fine.

The interesting impact will be on in-state prospect. Does LSU pass on players like Mykel Jones and Clyde Leflore, solely due to lack of need there? How the staff shapes this class will be one of the stories to watch in 2016. Clearly LB is the biggest need, but the rest of the roster contains pretty good depth throughout, allowing Miles and staff the flexibility to really add the best players they can add without regards to position.