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ATVS Roundtable: Recruiting Post-ESP

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Talking the hits and misses of the early signing period.

SEC Championship - Georgia v LSU Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

So what do we all think about LSU’s efforts in recruiting so far?

Dan

LSU took big risks in cutting committed players to go for big fish and it didn’t pay off on early signing day. Now they have six spots to fill by February. Not the position Coach O imagined he’d be in, I wouldn’t think. I’m okay with taking the big shot. LSU was right there with a lot of top 50 players.

I worry a little about the optics. Clearly the staff kept to their own rankings, because when it comes to saving spots, cutting a guy like Ali Gaye seemed to make more sense than, say, Major Burns. Especially when O says we now need to sign a corner to finish. But that tells me they must really like Gaye. And frankly, this staff has really nailed evaluations on “fringe” prospects like Damien Lewis, Justin Jefferson, and Cordale Flott.

So I feel somewhere in the middle. I don’t punish them too heavily for taking the shot, but we need a strong finish to help mitigate the damage of losing multiple recruits for what turned out to be nothing. Otherwise you are giving up scholarships and that’s an entirely different animal.

Corey

I don’t have an issue with the taking a shot and looking elsewhere, but now it’s really going to come down to how they finish in February. Dan mentioned their evaluation on guys like Flott, and I think the performance of the freshman corners this year, plus adding a plug & play guy on Stingley’s level like Elias Ricks makes someone like Burns a little more expendable. It was confusing with Orgeron’s comment, but I think he was implying he wants someone that can play both corner and safety.

I think Lee was drifting towards moving inside on the line, and with Guillory already in the class and among the leaders of the pack for a dominant guy like McKinnley Jackson, that leads to becoming expendable. Not to mention the performances of Shelvin and Ika this season.

I will say the only one that truly hurt me was the Clowney departure because I had hooked my car on that train, but that might have been more due to his cousin and the potential that may have been there.

Regarding the two receivers we lost, that stings a little, but it just makes the 2021 class a lot more important. Boutte is a plug-and-play guy for Jefferson’s role, Brady made it evident that he wanted Koy Moore in this class even with the other three in the class, and I think if he adds a little more weight to his frame (easy to do with that cafeteria and the “Moffittization” program) he can become a quicker Jarvis Landry.

I think a strong February finish will make fans completely forget about the processing these past few weeks.

Billy

I’m in the same boat on cutting guys loose. You have to go for the best players you can, and it seems clear they had a good shot at Burch, even if it didn’t work out. And even there, it may not be over yet. Plus, there’s still the McKinnley Jackson sweepstakes.

Although Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss probably makes that recruitment all the more interesting.

Really, it’s just about the finish and meeting your needs. Find a running back; the ship has apparently sailed on Evans, but Jahmyr Gibbs is still out there, ditto Ashaad Clayton out of New Orleans. If you have the rest of the pieces on offense, the running back becomes a lot more fungible. And otherwise, this class met them. Loaded up on both sides of the line of scrimmage, got two quarterbacks into the pipeline and loaded up with some premium assets at pass-catcher and pass-rusher. Just have to close the deal on the remaining ones.

I’m not going to say that rankings don’t matter — we know the correlation with success at this point — but I think we’re seeing increasing issues on the micro-level. There’s no way Jacobian Guillory isn’t a top-10 defensive tackle. Ditto Jordan Toles as a top-five safety. So dropping a few spots by a few decimal points isn’t much of a concern for me.

So who are some of your favorite players in the class? Is it all about the stars, or are there some underrated guys that you like?

Dan

You guys know me, I’m a sucker for high upside athletes. Arik Gilbert’s got that prototype physique to go along with insane athletic skills. It sucks to miss out on receiving targets, but that dude could put up tight end numbers that look like Burrow’s next to the rest of LSU’s QBs.

I bet Xavier Hill winds up outperforming his ranking. He’s coveted by too many top programs to not.

Otherwise, I’m eager to see those two EDGE guys... Webb and Ojulari. LSU’s pass rush is about to go next level, especially if you have them on the field with a guy like Roy.

Zach

Ricks is the obvious answer for favorite player. Top corner back, early enrollment where have I heard this before? This year it was Derek Stingley, next it’s Elias Ricks’ turn to be the best freshman defensive back in America. Oh and good luck throwing against LSU the next few years with Stingley and Ricks manning the outside.

I also like Jordan Toles but I’m partial to two-sport guys. I’m curious how he’ll manage playing basketball and football but excited nonetheless. And speaking of biases, as a lefty I have bought all the Max Johnson stock. My heart is so full.

Billy

I feel like Arik Gilbert kind of got undersold. A big reason missing out on Jarrett and Burton doesn’t matter that much is that dude has a chance to be a total game-changer. And yeah, he’s a tight end, but he’s a receiver. That kid caught 100 passes his senior year of high school, and probably would’ve gotten an NFL tryout if he was eligible. And him being here in the spring means he’ll get on the field quickly, and I’d be surprised if he isn’t among LSU’s top-three pass catchers next year.

On the other end of the spectrum, Josh White is an impressive guy on tape. He’ll need to put on some weight, especially if LSU stays in a 3-4, but he’s a sudden player that gets to the ball really quick. And he was the defensive player of the year for the entire city of Houston. That’s a heck of an honor.