Early today, LSU receivers coach Dameyune Craig sent out a pair of tweet signaling LSU may have gained another member to the 2017 verbal commitment list.
☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️##251— Dameyune Craig (@CoachDCraig) August 13, 2016
PurpleReign2017!!!!!!!!!☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️— Dameyune Craig (@CoachDCraig) August 13, 2016
This came as a bit of surprise, as there were no known pending announcements nor LSU football events that might precede a commitment. On Twitter, Wes Shepherd directed me toward Justin Thomas, citing the area code in Craig’s first tweet.
Sure enough, the recruiting services later confirmed that Spanish Fort DE Justin Thomas pledged to LSU. Thomas wasn’t a heavily picked prospect on the Crystal Ball, but of the three predictions prior to the commitment today, only LSU recruiting beat writer Shea Dixon picked Thomas to LSU. The other picks were for Bama, where he also holds an offer. Thomas also holds offers from Tennessee, Arkansas and South Carolina, which suggests his 3-star, .8656 may not be an accurate portrayal of his abilities.
As a prospect, he looks like your vintage 3-4 DE body type. At 6’5”, 255 he’s got a good, rangy frame to grow into. He doesn’t strike me as the type that’s terribly explosive, but he looks exceptionally stout at the point of attack. He seems like his future may be at the 5 or 4i technique. He does flash some pass rush skill, but this isn’t going to be your Buck LB of the future. You can check out his highlights here:
Overall, the clearest thing I can say is that he looks vintage. This is a true 3-4 down lineman and you’re gonna see LSU recruit a lot more of them in the future. What’s more interesting is that this brings LSU’s class to 20 total commitments. Half of that class is 3 stars. Is that a case of strong evaluations by the staff? Let’s not forget that last year’s class started with a lot of lower ranked players that eventually emerged as national level prospects.
How many spots remain? LSU is still actively after Cam Akers (likely not coming here), Devonta Smith (probably Bama), K’Lavon Chaisson (probably OU lean), Isaiah Buggs (probably coming here), Marvin Wilson (toss up), Dylan Moses (likely coming here), Christopher Allen (likely coming here), then a whole ton of guys that are probably fringe or contingencies.
It should be interesting to see how the coaching staff fills out the class. If they could somehow close with Buggs (who I think is an instant impact starter), Wilson, Moses, Allen and one more top 100 type, this class will stack up nationally.
As it stands, they are currently the no. 3 ranked class nationally. I would expect Myles Brennan and Saahdiq Charles’ rankings to rise a bit. I don’t really care what people rank Clyde Edwards-Helaire. That’s the closest thing to Maurice Jones-Drew that’s come around football in a while. The rest of the prospects, I understand the rankings, if not agree with them.
Perhaps most interesting to me is LSU looking to make inroads back into Bama. Thomas and Neil Farrell are legitimate D1 prospects, but perhaps not surefire takes. So the question is how much of this is LSU just trying to build stronger relationships?
At the end of the day, this staff is closing with another strong class. And more importantly, they seem to be doing the work to fill depth in the defensive front seven that’s been lacking the past few years.