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LSU Recruiting is Bonkers Right Now: How Do All These Pieces Fit?

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Auburn v LSU Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The 2020 signing class is a clusterfuck.

Not in the “OMG Arkansas what are you even doing?!” type of way but in the “all your base are belong to us” sense. Over the weekend, LSU nabbed two additional 4-star talents in safety Malcolm Greene and EDGE BJ Ojulari. This, just days after pulling the stunner of the 2020 cycle by landing 5-star TE Arik Gilbert, who, probably not so coincidentally, is HS teammates with Ojulari.

This is all great news. Except that LSU is now sitting at 24 public commitments with murmurs of two additional silent commitments, not to mention remaining in heavy pursuit of some of the nation’s truly elite prospects like 5-star Zachary Evans (who was on campus this weekend) and OT Marcus Dumervil (whose crystal ball is tilted to LSU). It’s a problem, but not the type you complain about. Orgeron and staff have some decisions to make so let’s take a look where we stand and consider some solutions to the problem.

Quarterback - 2 Spots & 2 Commits

QB Recruits

Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Max Johnson 4 244 0.9125
TJ Finley 3 402 0.8858

If there’s one true gripe about LSU’s recruiting class, it’s the QB talent, or lack thereof. The new offensive scheme seems to have attracted top skill players across the country, but that didn’t yet manifest at QB. LSU took a couple of pledges early in the cycle, as most QBs commit early and other than some flirtation with Haynes King haven’t really looked back.

The 2020 QB class isn’t stellar. DJ Uiagalelei (Clemson commit) looks special and Bryce Young (Alabama commit) is promising but beyond those two, it’s a lot of questionable players. Every QB needs development, so once you get past that top tier, I can’t really blame the staff for rolling with two guys they got to evaluate consistently in person. Johnson and Finley have promise. I don’t love either of them and think it’s possible neither could wind up being the starting QB for this program, but Johnson’s pedigree + frame and Finley’s tools make them as intriguing QB options as someone like Haynes King (A&M) or Harrison Bailey (HS teammate of Arik Gilbert and B.J. Ojulari) who is going to Tennessee.

That said, it’s numbers crunching time. The staff’s been married to the idea of taking two QBs in this class, but If LSU decided to part ways with Max Johnson, I wouldn’t be broken up about it either. He’s not so good that you can’t spare to lose him and LSU still has Finely in their back pocket. If you are going to pull a scholarship, you try not to do it locally.

Running Back - 1 Spot & 0 Commits

RB recruiting continues to be all over the map. The staff went hard for Kendall Milton, who eventually pledged to Georgia. Tank Bigsby came on the radar in the Spring but he wound up at Auburn. Ashaad Clayton is the top in-state back and a guy that’s probably a take in most classes and the staff has mostly held him as a backup plan.

The RB pursuit is now squarely focused on Zachary Evans. It’s been an on-again, off-again affair with Evans, who, at times, appeared to be a Texas A&M and Georgia lean. Evans just took in Baton Rouge and the staff is going all-in on working to land his pledge. A few recent crystal balls were made in LSU’s favor, but Evans is a quiet kid that no one seems to have a real read for.

This one will play out until February, but I suspect it may now be Evans or bust with spots this tight.

Wide Receiver - 4 Spots & 4 Commits

WR Recruits

Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Rakim Jarrett 5 19 0.9915
Jermaine Burton 4 40 0.979
Kayshon Boutte 4 47 0.9763
Koy Moore 4 274 0.9057

Just as a reminder, 247’s rating projects any player at a .9000 or above to be an NFL-caliber player. So LSU’s secured commits from four NFL caliber WRs, three of which are top 50 caliber players overall. Not top 50 at their position, but four of the 50 best players in the entire cycle.

The board here overturned this summer when guys like Jarrett and Burton wanted to jump on board. The staff parted ways with Kris Abrams-Draine, who wound up at Ole Miss and Darin Turner, who wound up at Arkansas.

Jarrett is frequently discussed as a flip candidate and he recently visited Tuscaloosa, but he always re-iterates his plan to sign with LSU. He’s a national-level recruit, so LSU will need to fight to secure his signature, but I don’t think there’s that much drama ahead here. Burton is locked in. His family is from the Southeast, and LSU checked all the boxes, so nothing to worry about there. Boutte keeps flirting with Bama and he could be one to keep an eye on. Moore is the lowest rated guy, but someone the staff really liked. He’s improved tremendously from his JR. to SR. year.

I think we’re locked in here. 4 for 4.

Tight End - 1 Spot & 2 Commits

TE Recruits

Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Arik Gilbert 5 10 0.9956
Kole Taylor 3 398 0.886

The tight end is finally a focal point of the LSU offense after years of turning it into a glorified sixth offensive lineman. LSU’s tight ends (Thad Moss & Stephen Sullivan) have 32 catches for 367 yards and one TD through eight games. Foster Moreau caught 22 balls for 274 yards and 2 TDs all of last year. It’s nice to see the expansion of the role in the offense.

Coach O sent TEs coach John Decoster on a recruiting mission this season to find a TE target. Decoster went after the top guys in the nation, including Gilbert, Drew Sanders (5-star Bama Commit), Darnell Washington, and looked to have struck out. In that same time span, Decoster found Kole Taylor, who looks like a natural receiver with a very projectable frame. Taylor’s in a similar bucket as Koy Moore as a guy the staff likes more than the recruiting services.

That said, now that Gilbert is in the fold, how does the staff handle Taylor? I can’t see them keeping both guys. Taylor is a good talent, but Gilbert is a superstar.

Offensive Tackle - 2 Spots & 1 Commit

OT Recruits

Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
CamRon Jackson 3 511 0.8756

The staff pursued the best OTs in the nation, including Paris Johnson (Ohio State commit), Andrew Gentry (uncommitted), Chad Lindberg (Georgia commit) and Marcus Dumervil. Dumervil is the one they found footing with and he looks to be an LSU lean, though it will be a battle with Florida and Louisville (family ties) down to the wire. CamRon Jackson is my projection here, though sites list him as a DL. At six-foot-five and 272 pounds, he’s got an OT frame. The other guy to watch is Ty’kieast Crawford, who just took in Baton Rouge this weekend.

Jackson is one of the lowest rated commits in LSU’s class, though it’s tough to see the staff parting ways with an in-state commit. There’s a potential finish of Dumervil and Crawford here with Jackson on the outside looking in.

Guards & Centers - 1 Spot, 1 Commit

Interior OL Recruits

Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Marlon Martinez 3 661 0.8669

Martinez is the lowest rated commit in LSU’s class to date. That said, his film is solid and he’s got a connection to Marcus Dumervil. LSU went pretty heavy on the interior last season, signing Kardell Thomas, Anthony Bradford, Thomas Perry and Charles Turner. That lessens the need for any signees in this cycle.

It’ll be interesting to see if Martinez remains a take. Does the staff continue to try and get back into the mix with Sedrick Van Pran? If the staff decides Martinez isn’t critical to landing Dumervil, I could see this being a spot they free up.

Defensive Line - 4 Spots, 3 Commits

DL Recruits

Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Jaquelin Roy 4 42 0.978
Eric Taylor 4 278 0.9047
Jalen Lee 4 321 0.8958

Roy was always “the guy” for this class so making sure he was in the fold probably ranked as priority no. 1 for this cycle. Lee and Taylor are two prospects with strong offseason programs that emerged as takes. They aren’t the sexy picks, but these are the types of guys you build strong fronts around. Jacobian Guillory is the remaining big fish that most have circled.

Anything else? Lagniappe. Could LSU get back into the mix with McKinnley Jackson, their former commit? He keeps showing up to campus, as he did this weekend. The staff already shifted Patrick Jenkins and Jordan Berry out of the class. More movement wouldn’t be entirely unforeseen. 5-star DE Jordan Burch, a Clemson commit, just took his official visit this weekend. What if he wants in? You take him and figure it out.

I see this one shaking out as expected. Guillory picks LSU in January, the class winds up with the current commits and him.

Edge - 4 Spots, 4 Commits

Edge Recruits

Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Demon Clowney 4 123 0.9412
BJ Ojulari 4 139 0.9386
Alec Bryant 4 258 0.9088
Ali Gaye 3 24 0.8728

One of the most fascinating spots to watch the rest of the way will be this grouping. The staff went long and far in pursuit of the top talents here and wound up with four guys (depending on where you slot Ali Gaye, who could be an interior DL).

There’s a clear body type the staff likes here. All three of the HS prospects are in the six-foot-three range and all three are 225-240 pounds. That’s just the commits. The staff remains after Donnell Harris (six-foot-four, 210 pounds) and Phillip Webb (six-foot-three, 230 pounds).

At various points, every single name mentioned either committed to LSU or considered it. If Harris or Webb want in, it will be interesting to see how the staff adjusts. Gaye seems easy enough to move out of the class, though he does solve the potential immediate need for help. I’d love to see what the staff’s internal board looks like. Webb seems like a long shot but Harris seems like a real possibility. Do they like him more than Alec Bryant or Demon Clowney?

Inside Linebacker - 2 Spots, 2 Commits

ILB Recruits

Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Antoine Sampah 4 62 0.9714
Josh White 4 126 0.9401

Decidedly less muddy picture here, but still some convolution, because, of course there is in this signing class. Sampah and White are two guys Aranda loved and both were early takes. They look locked in despite having the pick of the field and both coming from out of state.

The interesting pieces comes in Edgerrin Cooper, an Oklahoma commit from Covington. The staff recently extended him a committable offer and a bevy of crystal ball flip picks came through shortly thereafter. Is he still a take after the shocking Arik Gilbert decision? Sampah and White are about as good of a 1-2 ILB punch that you’ll find in America. Cooper, to me, feels like Ashaad Clayton, who winds up at LSU nearly every other cycle but this year, there’s simply no more room at the inn.

Cornerback - 2 Spots, 3 Commits

CB Recruits

Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Elias Ricks 5 12 0.9952
Major Burns 4 157 0.9341
Lorando Johnson 4 226 0.9165

Ricks is one of the jewels of the class and while Burns lists as Safety on 247, he projects on the outside as a press man corner. Lorando Johnson is guy they like at Nickel. Bill Busch recruited him and he fits that mold of a hybrid type of player this staff likes to find each cycle.

Ricks and Burns aren’t going anywhere. We hear little about Johnson, so curious if he could be another odd man out. In this case, he’s a good player but could be a grades risk.

Safety - 2 Spots, 2 Commits

S Recruits

Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Jordan Toles 4 88 0.9597
Malcolm Greene 4 314 0.8961

Toles is a stud and climbing rankings. He’s got some Delpit-like qualities. Greene is a bit of surprising take but the staff really likes him. Wondering if he will take the spot they planned for Lorando Johnson? Some rumors that Greene may not count to the 25, but he does.

At any rate, they are done at S. Two was always the magic number there.

Special Teams 0 Spots, 0 Commits

No need for any takes here. LSU is starting a freshman kicker, has their snapper in order for the next several years and another year of Von Rosenberg at punter.

25 Spots, 24 commits, 11 Targets

All in all doesn’t seem like a bad spot, but the struggle will be sorting through the remaining targets. Here’s a list of guys LSU remains heavily in the mix with:

Remaining Recruits

Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Player Star Ranking 247 Composite Ranking 247 Composite Rating
Jordan Burch 5 2 0.999
Zachary Evans 5 9 0.9956
Phillip Webb 4 37 0.9809
Donnell Harris 4 48 0.9753
Marcus Dumervil 4 95 0.9558
McKinnley Jackson 4 114 0.9456
Ashaad Clayton 4 138 0.9387
Jacobian Guillory 4 155 0.935
Ty'Kieast Crawford 4 166 0.9307
Jahmyr Gibbs 4 290 0.9026
Edgerrin Cooper 4 333 0.8936

What happens if more than one of these players wants in? That’s where the staff must get creative. Some of these players you simply don’t turn away. From a need perspective, I would rank these priorities:

  1. OT
  2. DL

Everything else is a debate. I’d probably put EDGE third, and that looks like it will simply be the staff choosing who they want most there. RB is a bonus in this class, even as good as Evans is. But we need more OT and DL depth, so the staff must close as such.

LSU is on fire right now and recruits are starting to take notice. Coach O is delivering on all the promises he made when he was hired to helm the program. Having too many recruits want in to your program is exactly the kind of clusterfuck every coach wishes to have.