Les Miles welcomed 18 new Tigers, not counting the 5 early enrollees already on campus, into the fold yesterday, and we spilled an inordinate amount of pixels on all of them. Signing Day is the culmination of over a year's worth of work, so it makes sense that we all want to know the details on these new players and personalities.
I don't want to dismiss the yeoman's work our recruiting gurus have done these last few days (and all year long), particularly Dan, who spent so much time talking about Signing Day that he really needs a lozenge or something. I devour that stuff just like the rest of y'all, and I love learning about the new guys and getting excited about the future.
But here's the thing: this is all a numbers game. Outside a few very notable exceptions (I'm looking at you, Leonard Fournette), the individual players do not matter. What matters are trends and the big picture.
This doesn't mean we shouldn't fall in love with Drake Davis because of his amazing piece in The Player's Tribune (I know Billy linked to it yesterday, but if you missed in the Signing Day excitement, stop what you're doing and go read it now). It doesn't mean I'm not unreasonably excited by Ed "Roux Ga Roux" Alexander because his Cajun Werewolf nickname gives me an excuse to post Blue Dog pics for the next four years. Like so:
And those details are the spice of life, and what makes being a sports fan worthwhile. We're supposed to fall in love with these players, or at least or own conception of them. They will represent us for the next four years.
But, right now, it's all potential. And Signing Day is not about bringing in fully formed talents, it's about bringing in potential. Five stars sometimes turn into Jamal Adams and sometimes they are Clifton Garrett. The key on Signing Day is not to bring in one particular guy, but to bring in as many guys who have the best chance possible to become future contributors.
Which means the most important thing about this Signing Day is that Les Miles and his staff signed nine of the top ten players in Louisiana. The one player they did not sign may not have had a committable offer either. For LSU to compete for titles, it needs to defend the borders and keep as much of the instate high school talent in the state for college. Mission accomplished.
This means the biggest disappointment about Erick Fowler deciding to go to Texas is not that we lost Fowler specifically, but that this class only has one true linebacker in it right now, a true position of need on the depth chart. Now, Devin White will likely change positions and Layton Garnett committed as a preferred walk-on. So the cupboard is not completely bare, but losing one more chance to have a future elite linebacker is a tough blow. It's not the Fowler the individual decommitted, but that LSU now has a thinner linebacker class than it anticipated.
What makes this class so exciting is that nearly every player in it is a likely future contributor. This is not a class full of longshots and projects behind the studs at the top. There weren't any wasted pickups. Heck, Lindsey Scott is one of the lowest rated guys in this class, and he's a critical signee for our quarterback depth chart.
The verdict on this class won't come in for years, when these prospects turn into players, when they are no longer represented by potential but by their production. There's no telling who those players who will be the biggest producers in the future actually will be, but it is a strength of this class that there are so many possibilities.
If recruiting is a numbers game, and it is, the numbers added up quite nicely yesterday.