Happy Crootmas Eve, everyone. We are mere hours away from the inaugural Early Signing Period in college football. We’ve seen some side effects of the early signing period already, with athletic directors making swift decisions on terminating coaches and finding their replacements. Many assume the majority of prospects will sign during the three-day period this week, which means schools absolutely cannot afford to lose any time on the recruiting trail. In year’s past, coaching searches could extend into late December, during recruiting dead periods, where little would be lost. This year, schools are hitting the road aggressively trying to lock up as many potential prospects as possible before doing a soft reset before the more traditional February signing day.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at where LSU stands. We will review the current verbal commitments, the uncommitted targets expected to sign during this period and what remains ahead.
Verbal Commits — Locked In
Jarell Cherry, Defensive End
The four-star end from Dallas is locked in to sign with LSU this week. He’s been honed in on LSU for a while and didn’t even take any other visits. He looks to be signing this Friday.
Micah Baskerville, Linebacker
Perhaps no commitment in LSU’s class has risen quite as much as Baskerville, who was formerly a three-star recruit and finished his season with a US Army All-American bowl bid. Baskerville is an early enrollee and he will sign this week as well.
Chasen Hines, Defensive Tackle
Hines put a minor scare into LSU fans when he tweeted he was speechless at the departure of Jeff Grimes. Though Hines has said he wants to be recruited as a defender going forward, Grimes played a major role in his recruitment. That said, LSU sent Dennis Johnson in home with him the next day and Hines came to Baton Rouge this weekend for his official visit. All signs point to him signing with LSU this week.
Davin Cotton, Defensive Lineman
Cotton lost his entire senior season to an ACL tear, but he’s locked in to both sign this week and to enroll early.
Kenan Jones, Wide Receiver
One of LSU’s longest tenured commits, he’s rock solid and just completed his official visit this weekend. He will sign this week.
Jaray Jenkins, Wide Receiver
Jenkins is another long-time commit that suffered a season ending injury this year. A few weeks ago, there seemed to be some open questions about whether or not he would sign this week, but after taking in his official visit this weekend, it seems he is set to sign.
Dare Rosenthal, Defensive Lineman
Rosenthal is an interesting, complicated prospect. The former Alabama commit has an offer list that rivals most five-stars nationally. Yet, his status steadily declined from early hype of him potentially being a No. 1-overall type of talent. He ended a brief detour to IMG prematurely and settled back into small school ball in Louisiana, not enjoying being away from home. He’s a risky prospect, but I think sports one of the biggest upsides of anyone, not just in LSU’s class, but nationally. He visited this past weekend and is set to sign this week.
Cameron Wire, Offensive Tackle
Like the other offensive line commits in this class, the staff needed to firm things up with Wire on his official visit this past weekend. All signs point to him signing this week.
Cole Smith, Center
Things got interesting this week after the Grimes announcement and rumors began to circulate that Smith may take a late visit to Mississippi State, where his father played football. Smith never connected with Dan Mullen, but new head coach Joe Moorhead showed renewed interest. Fortunately, news leaked over the weekend that Smith would be shutting it down to sign with LSU this week and enroll early.
Dominic Livingston, Defensive Tackle
LSU’s most recent commit, Big Domo will sign this week after picking LSU just under two weeks ago.
Zach Sheffer, Tight End
The Florida native is all set to sign this week and enroll early at LSU.
Nelson Jenkins, Defensive Tackle
Another in line of long-committed players that lost his senior season due to injury. Some word that Jenkins may wait and take a visit to Alabama in January. They’ve stuck to recruiting the three-star prospect, if that gives you any indication of his talent level. All signs point to him signing this week.
Tae Provens, Running Back
The Alabama all-purpose back is all set to sign this week and enroll early at LSU.
Damien Lewis, Offensive Line
The JUCO guard committed over Thanksgiving and he’s locked in to sign this week.
Dantrieze Scott, Linebacker
Jumbo linebacker prospect officially visited LSU last weekend and plans to sign this week.
Damone Clark, Linebacker
The Baton Rouge native took in his official visit this weekend. Although he contemplated taking January visits, he’s since confirmed he will be signing this week.
Chris Curry, Running Back
Curry just took in Baton Rouge over the weekend and reportedly plans to sign this week, though there isn’t any official statement of his intent to do so, it appears. Curry hasn’t visited anywhere else, so it would be a major shocker if he opted not to sign this week.
Verbal Commits — Keep an Eye Out
Badara Traore, Offensive Tackle
The massive JUCO tackle committed to LSU just inside two weeks ago. Unfortunately in that time frame, LSU lost Jeff Grimes, his future position coach, and Austin Thomas. Whereas Traore looked locked in as of a week ago, he opted to take an official visit to Tennessee over this last weekend before the signing period. As a JUCO player, he will sign this week. Thus far, there’s not been any rumblings of a Tennessee flip, but this will be one to monitor, as he is set to make a “final decision” on Wednesday.
Travez Moore, Defensive End
The JUCO edge player is a bit of a mystery prospect. There isn’t much known about his JUCO season and it seems he wasn’t terribly productive. Interestingly, his rating just saw a bump on 247. He’s long been an athletic upside prospect with an impressive frame and athleticism. There remain questions about his grades status, so it will be interesting to see if he is able to sign. If not, I expect he won’t be part of this signing class.
Ardarius Washington, Defensive Back
The diminutive DB won’t be signing this week. He’s pushed his signing back to to February and intends on a TCU visit in January. My guess is he winds up signing with the Horned Frogs, even with two teammates signing with LSU during the early period.
Terrace Marshall, Wide Receiver
The five-star wideout will be committing in a ceremony this Friday at Parkway High School. Marshall has been picked to LSU for just about as long as he’s emerged as a major prospect. Even though his HS teammate Justin Rogers is likely to stick with his TCU commitment, Marshall remained pointed to LSU. He has his pick of elite teams, but this race is down to Texas A&M and LSU. A&M were early favorites for them, because he liked their offense under Kevin Sumlin, but they faded with the instability and eventual firing of Sumlin. He also like FSU, but ultimately was too far from home. Combine FSU’s old coach and A&M and voila, you have a contender. They’ve put a thick press on for Marshall, but the house money seems to be on LSU. We’ll stay on top of it, in case things change between now and Friday, but I expect him to done the purple and gold.
Justin Rogers, Quarterback
Rogers has seemed destined to follow his own path from the beginning. LSU tried to get into his plans, but it never seemed to materialize. He just visited TCU this past weekend and there’s no indication he has plans to do anything but sign with the Horned Frogs.
Anthony Cook, Cornerback
The four-star Houston native is an early enrollee that will be making his decision on Wednesday. His recruitment has been a bit of an odyssey. At one point, he was rumored to be eying Ohio State, but down the home stretch his final two became in-state Texas and LSU. He planned to make an announcement and then pushed the date back, reportedly because LSU gave him a lot to think about on his official visit. Houston is NOT a Texas recruiting stronghold, though new coach Tom Herman is working hard to correct that, considering his ties there. LSU put up a helluva fight here, and Corey Raymond remains one of the best recruiters in America, but I think the draw of the Horns will just be too much in the end.
I’m not yet sure how the full class plays out, but for Early Signing Day purposes, here’s what I expect to go down:
2018 Early Commits
What Lies Ahead?
Nineteen total signees with the addition of Terrace Marshall and the loss of Ardarius Washington and Travez Moore. That will leave LSU with six spots to fill out the class. My guess is that three of those will be DBs (Patrick Surtain Jr., Mario Goodrich and Kelvin Joseph). The other three spots will probably be some type of competition based on need and interest.
For example, running back Harold Joiner has insisted LSU is his leader, but his father would like him to stay home at Alabama. Additionally, there are question marks about his eligibility. Does the staff feel like they need one more back in this class, after signing two already?
Four-star wide receiver JaMarr Chase has been ice cold on LSU for a long time now, but things are starting to finally heat up as we approach the reality of making a final decision. Seems unlikely the staff wouldn’t take his commitment, so you have to think they are holding a spot for him.
Receiver Justin Watkins, formerly a commit, is widely believed to be picking LSU at the Under Armour All-American game, but does he still have a spot if Chase wants in?
Athlete Michael Williams, a lower rated prospect that drew some late attention this cycle as a defensive end, took his official visit this past weekend, but it’s unclear if the staff will have room for him.
What about QB? James Foster is the only realistic name left on the board and he’s drawing interest from schools all over the country. Could LSU be his landing spot? They will have to fight off some impressive suitors.
Surprises? There’s a couple of elite OL the staff has been pushing for visits in recent weeks, but no clear dates set as of yet. Now that Grimes is departing, it seems unlikely, but perhaps O/Cregg can make magic happen. LSU’s got a nice offensive line haul, but they don’t have a commitment from a true underclassman difference maker to build out future depth. Otherwise, options look scant. Chase would definitely fall into the surprise category.
Year one of early signing period should be interesting. In the old system, it technically operated the same, where the signing window just opened on the first Wednesday in February. This is a narrow three-day window, but it seems announcements will be all over the spectrum. On a personal note, I begrudge the timing of having to follow this shit around Christmas, when we should all be focusing on friends and family time. They should consider moving the dates back a week or something. I do think this will have the intended consequence. The bulk of the prospects will sign, cutting down on the year-end shenanigans and such. Stay tuned for our usual array of commitment pieces and updates. Let’s see what O can do to close out his first full signing class.