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Recruiting Roundtable: To the Finish

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Some thoughts on how LSU’s final spots shake out.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Notre Dame vs Louisiana State Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

LSU saw it’s recruiting class drop to 18 commitments with the loss of three-star linebacker Zach Edwards’ commitment. The move had been expected for some time now, but nonetheless, Ed Orgeron and Co. have only a handful of spots left in the Class of 2019, but with some big fish still out there. So how do things close out? We made some calls, with special guest star Sam Spiegelman.

Sam

With the de-commitment of Mississippi 3-star linebacker Zach Edwards on Tuesday night, LSU’s 2019 recruiting class now sits with 18 verbal commitments and room for seven more prospects before National Signing Day. Of course, there are several priority targets at critical positions of need still left on the board.

Positions that need to be addressed include wide receiver, defensive line, a second running back and one more piece in the secondary. It’s no coincidence that some of the top targets on Ed Orgeron’s board are at those spots.

Let’s examine the top targets:

RB: John Emery Jr., Noah Cain

WR: Trey Palmer, Devonta Lee, Jalen Curry

TE/OL: Ray Parker

DL: Ishmael Sopsher

LB: Nakobe Dean, Christian Harris

DB: Devin Bush, Chester Kimbrough, Raydarious Jones, Joey Porter Jr., Isaiah Rutherford, Trikweze Bridges

Remember that LSU can take as many as 25 players in 2019, but has not been able to fill an entire class the last two recruiting cycles. That may ultimately be the case again this year.

Emery is planning an August commitment, and if that’s the case, expect Mississippi State or Georgia to be the call. If it’s State, it’s hard to rule out LSU forcing a late flip. Cain, however, is resolute on waiting until December to make a decision. Heading into the fall, the Tigers have asserted themselves as one of the top two contenders for the 4-star back.

After an impressive haul of receivers in 2018, expect a small but talented group this cycle. Palmer and Lee are priority targets, but neither expects to make a decision until February. Palmer has long been an LSU lean; LSU feels good about where it stands with Lee, who has also been a regular visitor at Alabama. Curry has also been a regular visitor in Baton Rouge, making four unofficial trips since January. If Curry opts not to commit in August, LSU could make a run for the Houston 4-star.

Parker has publicly named LSU as his leader, but the team added a JUCO tight end during the elite camp. While LSU has recruited him as a tight end, Parker is still a take in this class — as a potential tackle. However, he may need to secure his spot sooner rather than later.

Sopsher is the top dog on Dennis Johnson’s board, and after four-star Mississippi linemen Byron Young and Nathan Pickering popped to Alabama and Mississippi State, respectively, the need to land Sopsher is amplified. LSU feels good about it’s chances with the Amite five-star, but may need more help pulling in another defensive lineman in this class.

The loss of Edwards was #expected, especially after taking Kendall McCallum and Donte Starks in the past month. Two inside backers would suffice, but Dean and Harris are two to watch. Alabama is the big favorite for both, and Harris now leaning toward a December commitment date could work in the home team’s favor.

LSU may not be done with five defensive backs. Sources in the building are eyeing a six-man class with Jones and Bridges atop Corey Raymond’s wish list. Both camped in Baton Rouge last month. Meanwhile, Bush and Kimbrough are eyeing late-summer commitment timelines. Both are leaning toward out-of-State options at the moment.

So, who will fill the final spots in the Tigers’ 2019 class:

19. Noah Cain

20. Trey Palmer

21. Devonta Lee

22. Ishmael Sopsher

23. Ray Parker

24. Raydarious Jones

Corey

I’m kind of glad the Edwards de-commitment happened sooner rather than later since we all expected it at some point, so now it puts us at seven spots. Just a little more wiggle room to finish this off.

Sam laid the groundwork so I guess I can get right into my picks, and not surprisingly, they’re quite similar to his with some slight variation:

19. Noah Cain: It just seems Emery is dead set on leaving the state and heading to Mississippi State, so why not bring someone back home who is a more complete and SEC-ready back?

20. Trey Palmer: Even with the haul at receiver last year, we still need to continue to replenish. Palmer continues to rise and make a name for himself, and helps us dig into that stronghold up north (more on that in a bit)

21. Devonta Lee: I think this is a big pickup for us. While his college position is yet to be determined (I see a linebacker), he is good friends with Palmer which helps our cause with him and he’s teammates with...

22. Ishmael Sophser: This is the guy. This is the guy that helps alleviate those recruiting worries and gets our foot deeply into an area that has been trouble for us lately.

23. Christian Harris: A little of a surprise, but like Sam said about his December decision, I think that want to play in state will grow and a team like Alabama may not wait around for him as well.

24. Twikeze Bridges: I just like the name Twikeze slightly more than Raydarious, so he gets the nod.

25. Jeffery Carter: How about this for a steal Sam? With Hampton likely going to safety and Bridges being a safety as well, there’s room for one more corner. Seeing Carter with some former Tigers recently, a push could be on.

I would prefer another tackle, but I think the staff wants more of a true tackle than a project like Parker. Maybe the momentum changes for Kenyon Green as the season progresses or we put our name in a Juco hat again.

Billy

The four big fish left on the board are all Louisiana kids, and I think LSU lands all four: Trey Palmer, Devonta Lee, John Emery and Ishmael Sopsher.

Palmer may be the next name to pop as a commitment, and I know some think Lee won’t be far behind. And I’ve heard the talk about Emery and Mississippi State, but I also know that LSU is still very confident in landing him. I don’t know if that means they think he’ll commit soon, or that they can just win out over time, but they have made two things clear to me A) he’s a bigger priority than Noah Cain, and B) they think they get him.

Same deal with Sopsher. I know all about the Bama connections in Tangipahoa Parish, but LSU has some of their own and I think they win out.

With Zach Edwards out, that leaves three more, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s maybe another defection or two that opens things up. The Noah Cain talk and Crystal Balls are fun to think about, but if Emery does make the call I think he goes somewhere else where the running back class is a little less crowded. If something changes with Emery, well, Cain is a pretty nice consolation prize.

If there IS a third back in this class, watch for Mike Hollins at U-High. LSU thinks a lot of him, he just plays the wrong position in this class to get an offer. His teammate Christian Harris is another interesting prospect — is he a linebacker? Is he on par with the ones LSU’s already recruited? Or will he wind up on offense in some capacity?

The other key positions are defensive line, offensive tackle and corner, and I think LSU tries to find the best players it can matched up with those priorities. They’ll try and get as many of the Mississippi defensive linemen to visit as possible, along with Jaquaze Sorrells out of Florida. Ditto the DBs Corey and Sam named. There’s also a chance for some in-state kids to get the call with a big senior year; maybe a Bertrand Carroll or an Earl Barquet.

Give me Harris, Sorrells and maybe Ray Parker for those final spots. Another corner would be nice, but LSU signed a good group there, so it’s lagniappe.