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LSU Football’s 2020 Class Is Hitting A Crunch

LSU v Mississippi Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

A month ago, I put together a look ahead of what’s to come as national signing day rapidly approaches for the 2020 LSU signing class. This came shortly after LSU pulled three high profile commits to add to their already overstocked list of verbal pledges. Since the new rules strictly limit schools to signing just 25 players a class, it is transparently obvious that LSU would have to do some pruning to their current commit list to nab all the players on their wish list.

It’s been only a month and though we have more data, things are murkier than they’ve ever been. So let’s work backwards through the headlines to try and make sense of where things stand.

Jalen Lee Decommits

This one came as a little bit of a shocker. Lee visited Ole Miss unofficially for the LSU game but quickly came out and re-affirmed his commitment to LSU. Days later, he opened things back up. Ole Miss, Alabama and Florida could all be at play here.

To me, this reeks of LSU feeling bigger fish are on the way. That’s not intended as a slight on Lee’s ability, as he’s still an SEC caliber player. In most years, Lee would be a lock to sign with this class, especially as he plays just up the road in Watson (shout out to Adam Henderson). But it’s clear LSU surveyed their remaining targets, surveyed their current verbal commitments and identified the pieces they felt most comfortable moving on from. He fits LSU’s scheme as a true 3 or 4 tech end, with good size, too. So why move on?

First, let’s talk about Jordan Burch. If LSU were to add DL targets, it didn’t make sense for the attrition to come from other parts of the class. So this is the staff making a play for what they feel are upgrades. Burch is the no. 2 overall player in the class. He’s been heavily rumored to be a Clemson lean throughout the process, but quietly murmurs are rising that LSU are surging. What’s the smoke? Well, Burch’s good friend just committed to the LSU baseball team:

Burch visited LSU officially for the Auburn game, with his mother in tow. He took in Alabama fortunately to watch us beat them. Those are his only official visits to date and he’s since canceled a planned trip to Clemson. Burch is committing on the first day of the early signing period, December 19th and as of today has no further visits planned. This would be an astonishing recruiting pull and Burch is a truly elite DL talent.

The other name to keep an eye on is McKinnley Jackson. Jackson once committed to LSU as a sophomore, but eventually wound up opening things back up. Jackson won’t pull the trigger until February and he’s been a tough read throughout the process. He visited Alabama in September and trips to Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M loom. I’ve seen predictions range from Bama to Texas A&M, but LSU seems to keep coming up in the conversation. Jackson’s more of a true 0-tech, which LSU just landed when Jacobian Guillory went public, but building a deep DL rotation remains a constant priority for Coach O. Where things will get interesting is if another of LSU’s DL commits, Eric Taylor, really starts shopping. There’s rumors he may be eyeing some visits to SEC schools and while he may not publicly decommit like Lee, his status may be in the exact same position.

If Taylor leaves, it’s clear the staff is angling to swap Lee and Taylor for Burch & Jackson. Or, more matter of factly, swapping a pair of top 300 players for a top 10 and top 100 one. That’s a trade off any coach in America would make.

Alec Bryant Decommits

The other piece here is EDGE Alec Bryant re-opening his process yesterday. Bryant committed to LSU back in February. There’s probably a little more nuance to Bryant’s case, though it’s eerily similar to Jalen Lee. LSU kept pursuing top talents nationally, once the picture cleared and they emerged as favorites for several top targets, Bryant became a redundancy. There’s also the potential that he’s not as clear of a scheme fit as their other targets. While Bryant’s build matches Ojulari and Clowney (LSU’s two other EDGE commits), he doesn’t offer near the athleticism. Now that Phillip Webb, another 5-star type of talent, looks increasingly more likely, that makes four players at the same role, three of which offer a more total package than Bryant.

The other path for Bryant is to bulk him way up and make him a 3 or 4 tech DE, but that seems just as unlikely. Bryant looks more like a vintage 4-3 DE, the type of guy in a John Chavis scheme. It’s one of those things where the staff probably felt he was good enough to take and use as an OLB but as soon as better options seemed viable, they decided to walk that path.

What this means is that Webb is a near lock to pick LSU. The crystal ball is tilted heavily in our favor these days. And his only remaining visit is to Florida this weekend. They aren’t considered a real contender for his services. By the by, if we pull this off... hat tip to Dave Aranda, whose recruiting is often maligned. He’s the primary recruiter and main reason Phillip Webb is interested in LSU and the primary recruiter for Antoine Sampah, a Virginia LB. Two top 50 OOS players with a litany of top tier offers. The guy can recruit.

Remaining 2020 Targets

The list isn’t terribly different from a month ago. Zach Evans is the RB target the staff would like to close with. Marcus Dumervil is atop the OT board. Guys like Ty’Kieast Crawford, Xavier Hill and Edgerrin Cooper are worth monitoring, but my guess is all would be more backup type options at this stage in the game.

LSU’s close is going to be epic and their class is already near tops in the nation.

2022 Commitment!

To cap it all off, LSU nabbed the no. 1 CB from the 2022 class, Khamauri Rogers. Long way to go here, but here’s some highlights:

IF Rogers stays as the no. 1 CB in America for 2022 AND he stays committed to LSU, it would be the 3rd straight season LSU inked one of the top 2 overall CBs in a given signing class. From Stingley (1) to Ricks (2) to Rogers (1). It’s too bad Pat Surtain Jr. went to Alabama and will miss out on the fun.

One More Nugget

The nation’s no. 1 ranked dual threat QB for the 2021 cycle, Caleb Williams, is heading to Baton Rouge for an unofficial visit starting Wednesday. He will stay in town through the Thanksgiving holiday and to watch LSU square off with Texas A&M this weekend. Georgia’s been the early favorite here, but momentum is starting to pick up for LSU. I can imagine the hot stadium and watching Joe Burrow light things up could stir some emotions. Could LSU kickstart that 2021 class with a major pull this early?