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Early Signing Period: Primer & Open Thread

A few things to look out for as the Early Signing Period opens today.


A 13-0 season, a conference championship, a Heisman Trophy winner and a College Football Playoff appearance are all pretty good feathers in the cap of LSU and Ed Orgeron. But Coach O made his bones as one of the nation’s most relentless recruiters, and that’s paying off so far this cycle with a class that sits well in the top five of the 247 Sports composite rankings, and could be poised to compete for the No. 1 overall class if some things break right.

247 lists the Tigers with 23 commitments at the moment, but we know a few of the players on that list — defensive backs Lorando Johnson and Malcolm Greene and pass-rusher Demon Clowney — will not be a part of the class. Greene will “flip” to Clemson publicly this signing period, but that’s old news to LSU’s coaches.

Additionally, lineman commit CamRon Jackson is already set to delay his signing to February’s National Signing Day Classic™ with some grade issues to sort out.

That said, LSU will look to sign anywhere from 17 to 22 players over the next three days, pending on a handful of uncommitted prospects.

The Expected Signings:

  • Arik Gilbert — 5-star TE — Marietta, GA
  • Elias Ricks — 5-star DB — Bradenton, FL
  • Kayshon Boutte — 4-star WR - New Iberia, LA
  • Jaquelin Roy — 4-star DT — Baton Rouge, LA
  • Antoine Sampah — 4-star LB — Woodbridge, VA
  • Jordan Toles — 4-star S — Baltimore, MD
  • BJ Ojulari — 4-star EDGE — Marietta, GA
  • Josh White — 4-star LB — Houston, TX
  • Jacobian Guillory — 4-star DT — Alexandria, LA
  • Max Johnson — 4-star QB — Watkinsville, GA
  • Eric Taylor — 4-star DT — Trussville, AL
  • Koy Moore — 4-star WR — Metairie, LA
  • Kole Taylor — 3-star TE — Grand Junction, CO
  • Marlon Martinez —3-star OG — Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Xavier Hill — 3-star OG — Olive Branch, MS
  • TJ Finley — 3-star QB — Ponchatoula, LA
  • Ali Gaye — 3-star DE — Garden City, KS

As Dan pointed out on Monday, these 17 names are all definitely set to make things official. Finley will even begin practicing with the team as a part of Peach Bowl prep on Thursday. Gilbert, Johnson and Ricks are set to enroll this spring as well. As for the big storylines of the day today, they are expected to play out as follows (all times CST):

  • 10 a.m.: Marcus Dumervil (televised on ESPNU) — LSU expects to land this four-star, top-100 overall prospect as the jewel of the offensive line class.
  • 11 a.m.: Phillip Webb (ESPNU) — Likewise, the 247 Crystal Ball predictions indicate the Tigers will land the nation’s No. 4 outside linebacker out of Buford, Ga.
  • 1 p.m.: Jordan Burch (ESPNU) — This is the potential big news of the day. The No. 2 defensive end and five-star prospect out of Columbia, South Carolina, has narrowed down his list to LSU, South Carolina and Georgia, with Clemson and Alabama believed to be on the outside looking in. Burch took a late visit to Athens last weekend, leading to some speculation that the Bulldogs could be pulling out in front, but as of the latest, sources at LSU still felt like they had a good shot to bring this home. We’ll see if the Tigers land an extra Christmas present.
  • Jermaine Burton: 2:30 p.m. — The four-star receiving prospect out of Calabasas, Calif., has been committed to LSU for some time. But he is originally a Georgia native, and has gotten some family pressure to switch to the Bulldogs, which led to a recent official visit. Opinions seem a bit mixed on whether Burton will flip or stay with the Tigers, but either way he will announce his intentions on Wednesday afternoon.

Other storylines to follow moving forward from the Devember signing period into February:

  • Five-star receiver Rakim Jarrett is, per reports, officially putting off his signing until February. Rumor has it this has been in the works for some time, as his high school doesn’t hold an early ceremony for players. However, there’s long been attempts by several programs to try and flip Jarrett’s commitment. LSU is not happy that he’s continuing to string this process out. Alabama, and the local Maryland Terrapins are believed to be the big competition.
  • Likewise, five-star tailback Zach Evans appears to be holding off his decision as well, with local pressure from Texas A&M. It wouldn’t be shocking if he maybe sends his paperwork in on the down-low, but there doesn’t appear that there will be any public announcement. Evans is scheduled to make a public commitment at the Under Armour All-American Game on January 2.

If LSU lands their 17 current commitments, Webb, Dumervil and holds on to Burton, that will put them at 20 signees entering the final recruiting period, and five spots left to fill. Jackson will likely have his spot, assuming he gets his grades squared away. Tailback — Evans ideally, although there will be contingencies pursued as well — will be one focus, along with another safety and some additional linemen.

There’s also the possibility of keeping an open spot for transfer players, such as Houston quarterback D’Eriq King, the subject of some recent message board speculation. My guess is that spot would depend on the potential signees available, as well as which underclassmen return for the 2020 season. Most expect players like Justin Jefferson, Grant Delpit, Jacob Phillips and K’Lavon Chaisson to decare for the NFL Draft. But if Orgeron can hold on to players like Tyler Shelvin, Jacoby Stevens or offensive tackles Saahdiq Charles and Austin Deculus for another year, they may try and see if a veteran player like King can raise the ceiling of that 2020 team.

But that’s all questions that will be answered following the playoff run over the next month. For now, let’s enjoy what should be a damn strong signing class.