LSU mailbag: QB targets, recruiting class size and early signing day tidbits

Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly mailbag, a question-and-answer forum between readers and LSU team and recruiting reporter Sam Spiegelman. In this edition, we touch on which quarterback will most likely land in the team’s 2018 recruiting class, the size of this year’s haul and more on H-backs, defensive backs and early signing day madness.

Justin Rogers’ last official visit to LSU gave him plenty to consider. In fact, I think the 5-star quarterback was contemplating a flip.

However, after the dust settled, I believe Rogers is still solid to TCU and will wind up signing with the Horned Frogs on Dec. 22. He’ll head to Fort Worth for his official visit this weekend, which should lock him with the team he committed to back in May.

If and when Rogers puts the pen to ink with TCU, then LSU will shift its full attention onto 4-star Alabama dual-threat quarterback James Foster. Recruiting coordinator and area recruiter Tommie Robinson offered Foster back in October after evaluating the 6-foot-3, 210-pound prospect’s senior film, which included his season stats — 149-for-236 (63 percent completion percentage), 2,238 yards, 29 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions.

Since then, Foster has received two in-home visits from Robinson, who has yet to visit LSU. He’ll make his first trip to campus for an official visit after the dead period on Jan. 12.

While LSU garnered momentum early on with Foster, Florida State offered a few days later. Then, things got interesting when former Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher took the job at Texas A&M. His first move was to offer both Rogers and Foster.

LSU sits somewhere at the top along with Florida State, Texas A&M and Alabama, but the Tigers’ chances are much lower than they were just a month ago. Still, they sit in a better spot with the uncommitted 4-star quarterback than they do with Rogers, who is nine days away from signing with TCU.

Remember, the depth chart suggests LSU  needs to take a quarterback in 2018, but sources in the building will not take a quarterback just to take a quarterback.

The NCAA implemented a new rule limiting college football teams to a hard cap of 25 players beginning this year.

In years past, teams could oversign after a year in which they undersigned. Teams used to be able to take advantage of the 85-scholarship cap when it came to recruiting and loaded up their classes to reach the 85-player plateau. Naturally, there was speculation that LSU — which signed 23 prospects to its 2017 recruiting class — would be able to sign upward of 27 prospects in 2018. That is no longer the case.

Sources on the LSU side have since confirmed the rule that limits the team to 25 signees in the 2018 recruiting cycle.

They count as part of the 25 prospects embedded in the recruiting class. So, 4-star offensive tackle Badara Traore, 3-star defensive end/outside linebacker Travez Moore and 3-star offensive guard Damien Lewis are technically recruits. They count the same as say, Tae Provens or Damone Clark, even though they are coming from a junior college versus a high school.

Transfers are counted on that aforementioned 85-scholarship limit. Breiden Fehoko, Jonathan Giles and Thaddeus Moss all transferred to LSU in the offseason, but did not count toward the team’s 2017 or 2018 recruiting classes.

There are a couple announcing their commitments during the early signing period:

  • Anthony Cook, 5-star CB (Houston)
  • Devonta Jason, 4-star WR (New Orleans)
  • Terrace Marshall Jr., 5-star WR (Bossier City, La.)

Both Cook and Jason will announce their decisions on Dec., 20, the first day of the signing period, while Marshall will commit to either LSU, Florida State or Texas A&M during a nationally televised segment on ESPN on Dec. 22.

I believe the Tigers have a 50-50 shot with both Cook and Jason and could very likely secure a commitment from one of those blue-chip recruits. When Marshall announces his decision on Dec. 22, I fully expect his choice to be LSU, pushing the total number of commitments to 21 in the recruiting class.

Not necessarily.

With the assistant coaches out on the road, they are also evaluating a ton of prospects — in the 2018, 2019, 2020 classes and beyond. This is a great opportunity for coaches to see prospects up close.

Corey Raymond dished out an offer to 4-star Missouri athlete Mario Goodrich III, who recently de-committed from Nebraska. Perhaps he felt that an offer would spark interest, and with Raymond leading the charge, we know that it’s for a position in the secondary.

LSU has one defensive back committed to this class in 3-star Ar’Darius Washington, with some big targets closing in on decisions. That includes Cook as well as 4-star safety Kelvin Joseph and 5-star cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. With coaching changes occurring all throughout the country, it’s unclear whether that will hurt the Tigers’ lead for either Joseph or Surtain. And if Washington does not sign with LSU on Dec. 20, which he is currently not expected to do, that could force Raymond to look toward alternative options at the position.

In my opinion, the increased push for Goodrich is more geared toward the latter. Like Washington, Goodrich is a return specialist that could see snaps on the offensive side of the ball. At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, he certainly fit the bill for what Raymond looks for as a nickel safety.

LSU holds a commitment from 3-star H-back Zach Sheffer, who committed back in June after visiting for the team’s elite high school prospects camp. He has remained very solid ever since, only visiting LSU and making his official visit for the Auburn game. He’s set to sign his letter of intent next week and graduate from Nease (Fla.) High School in December and enroll next month.

By landing transfer Thaddeus Moss from N.C. State in the offseason, there isn’t a glaring need for another tight end/H-back in the 2018 class. Foster Moreau is only a junior and there are youngsters such as Tory Carter and Jamal Pettigrew still in the mix heading into next fall.

Nonetheless, tight ends coach Steve Ensminger continues to prioritize 3-star John Curtis (La.) tight end Glenn Beal, who has LSU in his top group of schools. Beal has nearly committed to the Tigers a handful of times dating back to last February and is scheduled to finally commit on National Signing Day this year.

If I were to pick today, I’d say Beal winds up in Baton Rouge. However, with numbers getting tighter by the day and other positions left to address, I am unsure whether a second tight end is what the Tigers need to round out this 2018 haul.

There’s definitely reason to believe that Matt Canada will not return as LSU’s offensive coordinator next season.

After LSU’s lopsided victory over Texas A&M, coach Ed Orgeron addressed the rumors that Canada could be in the mix for some head coaching jobs across the country. LSU’s coach could not have been more blunt, indicating that he hoped Canada pursued those opportunities.

Since then, Canada spent one week out on the road recruiting on the West Coast and in Texas. Now, he’s back in Baton Rouge working up a game plan for the Tigers’ Citrus Bowl game against Notre Dame. Whether LSU will be using that game plan remains a question.

Some sources have suggested that Canada could be in line for the Louisiana-Lafayette head coaching job. It seems as if we’ll get an answer to that question later on this week. If Canada is not named to that position, then it’s very likely he winds up back at LSU for 2018.

If Canada does leave, it would have a minimal impact on the recruiting class. Under Orgeron, area recruiters and position coaches — not to mention the head coach himself — play the bigger roles on the recruiting trail. Those members of LSU’s staff likely will remain intact, so I would not expect much to transpire with the team’s 2018 recruiting class.

Canada was playing an integral role recruiting Rogers, and the fact that he did not go in-home with the 5-star quarterback likely puts a damper on the team’s chances of flipping him before Dec. 22. Canada has not recruited Foster, who has remained in touch with Orgeron and Robinson. There are some 2019 and 2020 quarterbacks who were being courted by Canada, which will likely force them to wait to see who Orgeron would tab to fill that position for next year.

The only offensive coordinator Orgeron has mentioned as a potential replacement for Canada is tight ends coach Steve Ensminger, who served as the interim play caller when Orgeron replaced Les Miles as the Tigers’ head coach on an interim basis in 2016. Aside from Ensminger, any guesses on the next offensive coordinator would be pure speculation on my part.

As of today, I’m projecting three running backs to fall to LSU in the 2018 recruiting class. Four-star Chris Curry and 3-star Tae Provens are already on board and slated to sign with the Tigers next week. LSU remains squarely in the mix for 4-star Alabama tailback Harold Joiner and 3-star athlete Pooka Williams. It’s safe to assume that one of those backs finds a way into the class.

If LSU lands three backs in 2018, it may be a smaller haul of running backs in 2019. All of a sudden, the depth chart will look a little less attractive. Of course, LSU would lose Nick Brossette after his senior season and it’s unclear whether Lanard Fournette will stick around.

LSU holds a commitment from 2019 4-star running back Tyrion Davis, who despite interest from a bevy of other schools is very solid to the Tigers. LSU remains in a very strong position with both 5-star running back Noah Cain and 4-star running back John Emery Jr. Cain is the No. 1 back in the class and Emery is a top-100 prospect and the top running back in Louisiana for 2019.

Both Cain and Emery are LSU leans — at least for the moment — but a lot will hinge on what the team’s depth chart will look like next fall. If it’s loaded, it may drive away either Cain or Emery. If there’s some attrition, which is expected, LSU may be able to reel all three backs in.

As mentioned earlier, I believe LSU is the favorite for Marshall, who announces his commitment on Dec. 22. It will be nationally televised on ESPN.

As for Jason, it’s much more cloudy. He de-committed from Kansas, but is still strongly considering the Jayhawks. He’s high on Mississippi State and has a ton of connections to the program, where his former high school teammates Keytaon Thompson (football) and Lamar Peters (basketball) currently reside. If his current teammate Corione Harris flips to Mississippi State on Dec. 20, it may be an opportunity that’s too hard to pass up for Jason.

Still, Jason has been much more receptive to LSU’s push the past few months. He has made a string of visits to Baton Rouge to meet with Orgeron and wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph, which certainly works in the Tigers’ favor. One thing for sure is that Jason has been impressed with the new-look offense and wants to be close to his home in New Orleans. He has connections to several current LSU football players, too.

Expect Jason to choose either Mississippi State or LSU on Dec. 20. My gut says State, but a lot will hinge on whether Orgeron makes his way to Algiers later this week before the dead period kicks into gear.

The post LSU mailbag: QB targets, recruiting class size and early signing day tidbits appeared first on SEC Country.

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