LSU holding No. 1 class after turbulent stretch

LSU holding No. 1 class after turbulent stretch

January 17th, 2016 by David Paschall in Sports - College

LSU football coach Les Miles received a victory ride after a late-November win over Texas A&M and has been smiling ever since, as his Tigers easily won their bowl game and have maintained the nation's No. 1 recruiting class.

Photo by Jonathan Bachman

SEC RANKINGS

Where the Southeastern Conference football recruiting classes stand according to 247Sports.com (including national rank):

1. LSU (1)

2. Georgia (5)

3. Ole Miss (6)

4. Florida (7)

5. Alabama (8)

6. Auburn (10)

7. Texas A&M (19)

8. Tennessee (21)

9. Arkansas (26)

10. South Carolina (29)

11. Kentucky (30)

12. Mississippi State (43)

13. Vanderbilt (54)

14. Missouri (59)

As LSU was preparing for its regular-season football finale in late November against visiting Texas A&M, Tigers coach Les Miles did not know whether it was going to be his final game in Baton Rouge.

There was also the matter of LSU's top-ranked recruiting class, which had the potential to implode with a change in command.

"We've made plans to tactically recruit our board," Miles said during a news conference. "We go forward and obviously I'm the coach, or something happens and I'm not the coach."

LSU defeated the Aggies 19-7, and Miles was given the opportunity to continue coaching by athletic director Joe Alleva. The Tigers went on to crush Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl to wrap up a 9-3 season, and their recruits have held firm.

The Tigers entered this weekend with the No. 1 class according to ESPN, Rivals.com and 247Sports.com. They are No. 2 nationally behind Florida according to Scout.com, which lists LSU with a healthy total of 14 four-star prospects.

"There are a few things about LSU that never seem to get the headlines," Southeastern Conference recruiting analyst J.C. Shurburtt said. "Corey Raymond is their secondary coach, and he's one of the best in the country at recruiting his position. In every recruiting cycle, they go into Texas and get two or three guys that everybody in Texas wants, and they go into Florida and get two or three guys that everybody in Florida wants.

"Then you throw in the fact they're the only major program in their state, and it's probably a top-seven talent-producing state nationally. The population that decreased after Katrina is back in full force, and players there dream of playing for LSU. We talk about a kid being hard to get out of Alabama, but it's twice as hard to get one out of Louisiana."

Shurburtt also considers LSU defensive line coach Ed Orgeron one of the best recruiters in the country, but the Tigers lost an effective recruiter Friday when running backs coach Frank Wilson was introduced as the new head coach at Texas-San Antonio.

LSU had Rivals' No. 1 class in 2003, when the Tigers landed quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn, tailback Justin Vincent, receiver Dwayne Bowe and safety Laron Landry. The Tigers were rated No. 1 by ESPN and 247Sports in 2009, when they signed receiver Reuben Randle, cornerback Morris Claiborne, safety Craig Loston and defensive linemen Michael Brockers, Bennie Logan, Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo.

There have been eight years in which LSU's class has been ranked No. 2 nationally, including the 2014 contingent highlighted by tailback Leonard Fournette and receiver Malachi Dupre.

This year's crop of commitments contains six members of Rivals' top 100: receiver Drake Davis (No. 33), safeties Saivion Smith (No. 38) and Eric Monroe (No. 46), defensive end Glen Logan (No. 69), defensive tackle Edwin Alexander (No. 77) and outside linebacker Erick Fowler (No. 79).

Davis and Smith spent this past season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and were recruited by Raymond.

The state of Louisiana's top prospects according to Rivals are Logan, Alexander and Metarie cornerback Kristian Fulton, who heavily favors the Tigers. It was at a signing day gathering last year when Miles was asked about a touted in-state prospect who signs elsewhere, and he responded with, "To hell with him," drawing roars from the crowd.

Though LSU's class is stout, it does have a noticeable absence at quarterback. Feleipe Franks defected from LSU's class in late November and enrolled last week at Florida.

"He was a Florida kid, and I think that had more to do with Florida having a good year and desperately needing a good quarterback themselves than anything that happened with LSU," Shurburtt said. "LSU does need to get a quarterback in this class, whether via transfer or whatever, and wherever this class is ranked, if there is not a quarterback added to the roster in this cycle, I don't know that you can consider it an overwhelming success because that position is so important and there is such a great need there."

Brandon Harris started for the Tigers this past season as a sophomore but completed just 53 percent of his passes and threw only 12 touchdown passes. Tanner Lee, the starting quarterback at Tulane the past two years, visited LSU this weekend, but he would have to sit out the 2016 season if he calls Baton Rouge his new home.

"If you look at the rest of the class, it's really good," Shurburtt said. "It's sort of set up for LSU because they're bringing in the corners and defensive tackles, which are higher-rated positions than a good class of guards. Things have settled down, so it's not surprising to me at all that LSU is No. 1."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.


Loading...