LSU’s 2020 recruiting class is in the barn, at least as far as high schoolers are concerned. So what do we think?
I think it’s a great class. Yes, the Early Signing Period takes away most of the steam in February, especially after misses on our the two final targets (although one remains to be seen). I know the common fan will be slightly upset with the finish after winning a national title, but that will factor more into 2021. It’s hard to argue the other side when this class statistically ranks as the best in over a decade.
The only complaint I might have is our depth at linebacker, but I don’t believe anyone could have accounted for Queen having the postseason run that he did that would create a larger void too late into the recruiting season. Antoine Sampah and Josh White are both great players, and may have to be relied upon much more heavily than initially intended.
You could say the handling of the wide receivers was done poorly, but it’s hard to account for a personality like Jermaine Burton, which wound up in turn costing us Rakim Jarrett, who had a rough all-star week. They still brought in Kayshon Boutte and Koy Moore before adding Alex Adams, who is a real sleeper in this class, later on.
Anyone disappointed is an eternal pessimist and not worth hearing. The staff took huge swings in both periods and (maybe) struck out twice. It happens. This class is loaded. And it hits every part of the team. The lines. QB. Running back. Receiving targets. Linebackers. Secondary. We nailed everything but specialists, which we do not need. And for context, LSU finished with 300.54 points in the 247 composite ratings. That’s the most they’ve tallied in the rankings history. This class isn’t just good... it is ELITE.
I see a lot of concerns about the linebackers voiced, but O outright said we are moving to a 4-3, so the need immediately lessens. There will be some retro-fitting in 2020, but we can discuss that later. I think we’ll overall be fine there, as long as we hit it hard next class.
This class seriously has everything. Transcendent star potential? Arik Gilbert. Monster defensive line haul? Roy, Guillory, Taylor and probably Webb & Ojulari with the transition. Continuation of DBU? Ricks, Toles, McGlothern. Restocking the offensive skill spots? QBs, receivers and a back all signed. Beef up the offensive line? Signed a T, a couple interior guys. Oh yeah, and locked down a couple stud linebackers to boot.
I really have to stop myself from getting too excited about Arik Gilbert. That kid can truly be transformative. Like a Gronk or a Travis Kelce or a Jimmy Graham circa 2011-type of player. AND he’s already on campus! Jordan Toles is also a kid that seems like a next-level athlete as well, with his basketball skills. I know there’s some two-sport talk but that kind of thing rarely works out and he’ll be on the field next year. The defensive front-seven haul is elite. Sure, it would be nice to hold on to Jalen Lee, and him going to Florida is less than ideal, but I can understand taking the swing at Jordan Burch and McKinnley Jackson, and LSU definitely had a shot at both.
It’s insane that LSU can have a 300-plus score in the 247 Composite and that’s only third in the conference. I think it’s indicative of just how much the major recruiting powers — Georgia, Bama, Clemson, Ohio State, LSU, etc... — really are starting to dominate the top of the class to the point of almost a zero-sum situation. How LSU fights to stay in that group will be a big deal moving forward in the coming years. That, and the talent shift towards the state of Georgia.
Any thoughts on the dramatics from recruits like Zach Evans and Jordan Burch?
Personally, I don’t think it’s all that fair to link them. Evans kind of played games with a lot of teams and probably won’t wind up in a top-shelf program now, and will have to settle for somewhere like Ole Miss. Burch, I think, was legitimately torn and wound up in a weird spot where his commitment ceremony was literally taking place a couple of feet away from Will Muschamp. I can see where it felt awkward.
That said, I gotta say, it felt like LSU was going to pull that flip off. It’s easy to talk about bagmen but for a prospect like Burch South Carolina’s not about to get outbid in their own town. So I don’t think it came down to that. My best guess is that there were some concerns — I mean let’s be real, Muschamp’s not going to last there, probably not beyond 2020 — but in the end his heart was with South Carolina, because that’s home and that’s where he’s from. And that’s easy to understand, and that’s a pull that’s worked in LSU’s favor a bunch of times. And the kid needs to go where his heart is.
Recruiting is difficult. I have empathy for both. If you watched the Michael Vick 30 for 30, they did a nice job depicting the amount of pressure some of these kids bear. For them, it’s not just choosing the right program where their talents can be maximized. Or even about grabbing the bag of money. For many, they feel the weight to pull up their entire family, or worse, an entire community, with them. That’s a heavy burden to bear when you are 17,18,19 years old and barely know the difference between your right hand and your left. Thinking about trying to make a decision on behalf of your entire family. One that could possibly change the well being of an entire generation. No pressure.
In this case, neither handled that particularly well. As an outsider, Jordan Burch made a short-term decision. There’s probably more to his calculus than meets the eye, but hard to see going to a middling program under a coach likely to be dismissed within a year as a great long-term decision for a guy with next level upside. And I would believe that if the alternative choice were Florida, Alabama, Ohio State, Auburn etc. and not LSU. For Evans, he seems hot headed and impressionable. He could grow, mature and learn from this situation. Or he could languish in his mistakes and wind up playing out his days at a lower tier program. Seems unlikely he’ll just wind up at a program like, say, Tennessee, and be a solid, dependable back with no further issues.
But who knows. People are wildly unpredictable. Hopefully it works out for the both of them. All I know is that LSU will be fine.
Zachary Evans was just a headcase. He goes to North Shore, a powerhouse in Houston that has sent several to LSU and most major colleges in Texas. All he had to do was keep his head on straight and he’s set. He gets suspended earlier in the season, misses a half of a playoff game so he can take the ACT again (not too bad since he came back and dominated on the field, just not on the ACT reportedly) and then gets suspended for the state title game because of a CELL PHONE. He got lucky Duncanville’s QB tore his ACL in the semifinal otherwise his team loses that state title and he likely takes the brunt of it.
I think Burch was just conflicted. I don’t think we’ll never know the full story, which of he or his mom was favoring whichever side, the dark underbelly of the whole saga, etc. One thing that does suck for him (and it’s not the first time this has happened, but the defensive line coach leaves for Penn State a DAY after he signs. I’m sure LSU has gone through with that practice before, but it’s an awful thing for these 18-year-old kids that put their faith in someone like that.