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Stars Head to LSU for Final Monster Recruiting Weekend

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How will LSU close?

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 recruiting cycle is finally nearing the finish line. While LSU inked 19 prospects during the early signing period, Coach O hopes to close with a full 25-man class, leaving six spots in play heading into next Wednesday. That means we could see a flurry of activity leading up to the day and we haven’t likely seen the last of the twists and turns in this cycle.

That being known, let’s take a look at the prospects that remain in play, as well as the list of visitors for this weekend.

Visitors

Ishmael Sopsher, 5-Star, Defensive Line

Everyone’s well aware of Ish at this point. Everyone knows the story here. Ish keeps insisting he will go wherever will take both he and his older brother, Rodney, a prospect without any acclaim. Of late, Rodney was reclassified into the 2020 signing class, meaning he will not be a hit against any team’s 2019 total.

Ish is a tough read. The most cynical will insist he’s been a Bama lock for years running now and LSU is wasting its time. Recent Amite prospect Devonta Smith and nearby Kentwood, LA prospect Shyheim Carter are oft-cited as evidence of a brewing pipeline built by Saban himself.

The other side of the coin shows experts industry wide having Ish be an LSU lean throughout his prep career, with Bama making a strong push over his senior campaign.

I’m at a point of failing to believe anyone with “insider” information on this topic. Frankly, I think it’s just as plausible that Orgeron and staff have cooked up Ish to Bama rumor mongering as a way to deliver a major PR win on Signing Day, down to local LSU media going along with the rib. It’s curious to me that despite so many local media insisting Ish isn’t likely to come to LSU, almost none have actually bothered to shift their crystal ball picks away from LSU. I’m not saying it’s conclusive, I just think it’s worth considering.

Rodney Sopsher, 0-Star, Defensive Line

I don’t have much to say here, other than he’s visiting this weekend with Ish.

Christian Williams, 4-star, Defensive Back

Williams is a prospect that’s been stuck in a monitoring stage for the past several weeks while the staff kept several pieces at play. For a while it looked like the staff may turn to 3-star Jay Ward or 4-star Brendan Gant, but it seems they’ve settled their focus on the 4-star Alabama commit. Despite his verbal commitment, the entire recruiting world knows he isn’t to sign with Alabama. Now, all signs point to him winding up at LSU. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him flip his commitment this weekend.

Garmon Randolph, 3-star, Tight End

Randolph is an interesting prospect, at 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds. He’s taken official visits to Baylor and Ole Miss. His offer list, though, is a whose who of blue bloods: Bama, Auburn, Florida, Michigan and FSU amongst others. Is he a late bloomer? I’m always suspicious of guys with tons of “offers” but don’t seem to have true interest. Not that he’s a terrible prospect, just that he’s probably rated the way he is rated for a reason.

His recruitment may well be tied to Ray Parker, who opted not to sign with LSU during the early period. Is Randolph a fall back? I think this is a guy the staff would only take if they don’t think they can fill all six remaining spots with higher rated defensive line targets. If the ship sailed on Parker and LSU can’t flip a Byron Young, Randolph may well end up in this class.

Charles Moore, 4-star, Defensive Line

The one-time Mississippi State commitment has made quite a show of his recruitment, visiting Florida State and Florida in January, after taking an earlier visit to Auburn in December. Most seem to think Auburn hold the keys here, but Florida is also a major player, as Moore originally gave his commitment to Dan Mullen, when he was still at State, in August of 2017.

Moore gets the award for “Every Visit is my no. 1 school” recruit of the year. I don’t draw much confidence in him based on that alone. Then again, if he’s truly that impressionable, LSU having the final visit may be enough to outright seal the deal. I imagine the staff will put the full court press on this weekend. And there’s some out there that say LSU and Auburn may be his real top two. That said, I’m expecting his ties and relationships to Auburn to win out in the end. In all the turmoil, they’ve consistently stayed in his top choices.

Byron Young, 4-star, Defensive Line

Another stud DL that LSU and Bama are battling for. Confidence in landing Young rises and falls by the week. A month ago, there was widespread speculation he may not have a spot in Bama’s class, but that seems to have been cleared up as of now. The coaching instability is an interesting thing to monitor here. Bama’s DL coach is likely on his way out the door. They are hiring Mississippi State’s defensive line coach, who was Young’s primary recruiter for State. That’s probably enough to seal the deal for the Tide.

But, LSU gets that last visit and he’s been insistent on taking it. Last weekend, he left his Mississippi State visit early after falling ill. Feels like it would be a shock, but it’s always worth paying attention when a prospect comes for an official visit, especially when it’s the last visit weekend of the cycle.

Devonta Lee, 4-star, Athlete

Ishmael Sopsher’s HS teammate, Lee is one of the most gifted athletes in the 2019 signing class. Is he a WR? A safety? A LB? At 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, he’s got options. After a brief flirtation with Kentucky, it’s pretty well accepted that Lee will be picking LSU on signing day.

Soni Fonua, 3-star, Defensive Line

A late name in the hat, Fonua is a JUCO guy that the staff likes on the edge. At 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, he’s built ready to play in 2019. Well, at least you hope he’s not Travez Moore 2.0. Fonua visited Nebraska earlier this month and they seem to be the primary competition. Considering the lack of edge commitments in this class, I think they find room for him.

Peter Parrish, 4-star, Quarterback (SIGNED)

Already signed Parrish is just now able to find time for his official visit to Baton Rouge. He will get to take in the sights and help recruit.

Kendall McCallum, 3-star, Linebacker (SIGNED)

Same with Parrish. McCallum is a 2019 signee who will take his official visit this weekend.

Prospects to Watch

Obviously everyone above is worth monitoring. Here’s a few more names to peep.

Maurice Hampton, 4-star, Defensive Back

The 4-star DB opted not to sign in the early period and instead chose to take in a few more visits. Reportedly, he’s all locked into LSU now, though Major League Baseball looms. He’s a talented baseball prospect, expected to be a top 3 round pick. Would that be enough to sway him? Some say probably not, as he’s had a comfortable living growing up and he would need life-changing money to make the leap. That could also very well be a negotiating tactic for him to get as much as he can.

Still, I expect him to sign. LSU seems comfortable with the risk. We will see if he actually winds up on the roster.

Ray Parker, 4-star, Offensive Line

Plenty of rumors about Parker after he opted not to sign in the early period. For a while, many believed he may have forfeited his spot with LSU entirely. Parker took only one other visit, to Tennessee. Some say he is insistent on giving TE a shot at the next level while LSU only wants him as an OL. A lot of rumors swirling here...

Nathan Pickering, 4-star, Defensive Line

Took in Baton Rouge a couple weeks ago. He’s sticking with State.

George Pickens, 5-star, Wide Receiver

After flirting heavily with LSU, interest seems to have died. Pickens is a grades risk. He’s not coming to LSU.

My Picks

LSU’s got 6 spots to fill and my best guess is it will look something like this:

1) Maurice Hampton
2) Devonta Lee”
3) Christian Williams
4) Soni Fonua
5) Garmon Randolph
6) Ishmael Sopsher

I feel highly confident on the guys in 1-3 spots. 4-6 it gets spotty and are ranked in order of my confidence. Fonua gets a spot out of need. O passed on an in-home with Ray Parker. I think that says all you need to know about where the staff feels on him. They’ve moved on. Garmon Randolph visits, gets his offer and commits this weekend. If the staff can sway Charles Moore, pencil him in and Randolph out.

Ish, I’m just going on a limb. I’m going with my mini conspiracy theory. O’s been working this kid practically since arrived in Baton Rouge. O also knows the value of winning PR battles. So I’m calling my shot that Ish picks LSU on signing day, “shocking” the community and getting LSU PR points for a major recruiting victory over Bama.

Or, he might just sign with Bama.