A busy weekend filled with a number of recruits visiting was the perfect final volley the LSU staff was looking to make. Sunday brought further good news when JuCo pass-rusher Soni Fonua announced his commit following his visit. His commitment brought the class to 22, 19 signees from the Early Signing Period and the commitments of Fonua, Ray Parker and Maurice Hampton. That leaves three spots to finish out or likely four.
Ray Parker Is Out
Parker, a 6-5, 250-pound tight end in high school that would likely move over to tackle, committed way back on October 1. The Early Signing Period came and passed without a signature from Parker, irking the staff a good bit. Mix in concerns about his grades with a number of recruits still vying for a select few spots, and we have the makings of Parker being told to look elsewhere.
His departure brings us back to four final spots. Which players will sign their names on their LSU Letter Of Intent on Feb. 6 to get the Tigers to 25?
Obviously, committing on Sunday means he’ll be signing on Wednesday. For the numbers sake (and another reason to post his highlights), his name starts off this list
Hampton, the top-15 cornerback and two-sport star, has been one of the longest commits of this class, early signees included, after making his announcement back in 2016. While LSU fended off slight pushes from SEC foes Auburn and Ole Miss, even with his signing, the biggest worry of Hampton for fans is still ahead. A top-rated baseball prospect, LSU fans will be in wait-and-see mode to see where he is taken in the MLB Draft in June. It’s been reported that it would take a significant offer to take Hampton away from Baton Rouge, but LSU fans will have to sweat this one out even longer.
If you had told me before the 2018 season that Sopsher would be coming to LSU, I would laugh you out of the state. Keeping top-ranked in-state defensive tackles away from Alabama has proved to be trouble for the LSU staff for a number of years, but this is the year that could prove a changing of the guard. Sopsher comes off a visit to LSU this weekend, so Baton Rouge will be fresh on his mind before the quiet period begins. Things appear to be trending towards the good guys, but it’ll be one to sweat up until he announces.
A teammate of Sopsher at Amite, Lee could also be a contributing factor in helping bring Sopsher to LSU. The pull to Alabama hasn’t been as strong for the top-10 athlete, and it could be due to there is not a dead-set position for him at the next level. He’ll likely get his first shot at receiver for the Tigers, but Corey Raymond and Bill Busch could bring him into the secondary as a safety as well. Even though he’s trending towards the good guys, never count out Alabama.
An Alabama commit since April, Williams has continued to be a constant target of Corey Raymond, and that relentless pursuit should pay dividends come Wednesday. He was among the coveted group that visited this past weekend, and reports are that it sealed the deal for Williams and his family. A cornerback at Daphne in Alabama, Williams projects as a safety if he makes it to Baton Rouge.
We’re up to 24 if all of those guys sign for the Tigers. The last spot here is where it gets interesting. It could go to Jay Ward, a top-30 cornerback according to 247 that garnered heavy interest from Raymond, but he appears to be trending to Kentucky as a sign LSU has slowed up there. Garmon Randolph, a 6-6 tight end out of Georgia could be another possibility if they press. Finally, Auburn commit George Pickens, a top-five wide receiver out of Hoover, could be a flip pick and the best actual option for this spot, but it will be tough to flip him from Auburn and is a grade risk.
What I think will happen is they’ll hold onto it and watch the transfer portal over the spring. They did it last year and it got Orgeron an extension as they used that open scholarship on some guy named Joe Burrow. Not saying they will reciprocate that same success, but I think Pickens would be the only remaining recruit that I would spend that last spot on.
Adding Sopsher, Lee and Williams, along with removing Parker, puts LSU with a 289.10 team score on 247, which would put LSU third and ensure a top-5 class. That same score would be the highest for the Tigers since 2016, and second highest since 2014. It stresses the importance of a strong finish that could further shift the tide in the right direction for LSU moving forward.
A couple more notes from me based on some conversations I’ve had. For the most part, I agree with Corey and Dan on this close:
- Agree on Ray Parker being left out. I’m told he’s actually closer to 230 pounds than he is 250, and LSU’s staff has moved on. Never say never in situations like this, but it seems like tackle is off the board for Parker, and they don’t like him enough as a pure tight end.
- LSU will close with Soni Fonua, Mo Hampton, Devonta Lee and Christian Williams for sure. Fonua committed, obviously, and LSU’s had a ton of momentum with the other three. I do think they land Ishmael Sopsher. LSU’s had more going for them in that recruitment than most realize, and I think they’ve done some very strong work that we’ll try and detail after the fact. I’m still hopeful that they’ll land one more defensive lineman as well, but it looks like Charles Moore/Byron Young are going to go down to the very end. If not, as Corey says, it does make a lot of sense to hold a spot for a potential transfer. As the market becomes busier, one can argue that’s a smart thing to hold in reserve every year.