Ed Orgeron learned something after Year 1 of sweeping changes to college football recruiting: be more particular about whom you sign in December and stick to the state.
That’s the plan moving forward, the coach said Wednesday after pulling in his first full signing class. The 23-player group, rated 15th in 247Sports’ composite rankings, came during a wacky recruiting cycle with two major changes.
An early signing period, Dec. 20-22, was instituted, and a more strict 25-man per-class signing limit was imposed.
“Being more selective as far as in the beginning of the recruiting period,” the coach said when asked about changes to next year after experiencing the new rules. “This year in the state of Louisiana, we feel like we have some of the top players in the country. We’re going to be more selective with our scholarships, fill specific needs, go to Houston a lot more. This year is a great year in Houston.
“We are already on some of the top players in Houston, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Stay close to home. All the players we lost (this year), that didn’t come here, were from our state. We feel like, if we do a good job in state, we’ll be very successful at LSU.”
The Tigers somewhat cornered themselves, leaving just four spots available for Wednesday’s national signing day after signing 21 in the early period, more than most teams (the average was 17 nationally). And although he did not fill the class, Orgeron said he turned away several players who wanted to commit to him weeks ago, gambling he’d land guys like Florida cornerback Patrick Surtain and quarterback James Foster. Alabama and Texas A&M nabbed those two instead.
“We had several guys that wanted to commit,” Orgeron said. “I didn’t have a scholarship for them. I wasn’t going to tell them I could take their commitment. I wasn’t going to lie to them. Now, some people may do that and feel good about it. I wasn’t going to do that.”
Best of the bunch
LSU entered signing day having doled out signing papers to four prospects for four open spots in the 2018 class: Scotlandville defensive back …
Fehoko, Giles starters
LSU will have, at least, two former Texas Tech players starting next season, Orgeron said Wednesday.
Red Raiders transfers Jonathan Giles, at receiver, and Breiden Fehoko, on the defensive line, are penciled in to get the starting nod when LSU opens the season against Miami. Giles and Fehoko sat out last season while serving the mandatory NCAA year-in-residence for Football Bowl Subdivision transfers.
Orgeron expressed his “confidence” in Giles to join a receiving corps that now has a dozen members with the signing of four this class: Terrace Marshall, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaray Jenkins and Kenan Jones.
“Very confident in Jonathan Giles. Here’s a guy who we couldn’t cover last year (in practice),” the coach said. “Add him to that mix and we got five new guys coming in. All do things different and are very talented. Obviously, four of them are young. I do believe having Terrace here early (is a plus). I do believe that Ja’Marr is close to our program and can pick up things in June. Kenan can too, so can Jaray. All four of those guys are going to be expected to play next year and two of them may start for us.
“I know Jonathan Giles is on our starting roster on offense, one of our better players on offense, and I’m glad to have him.”
“They win championships, and I want to be a part of that.”
Fulton status uncertain
The status this season of New Orleans defensive back Kristian Fulton remains cloudy.
Fulton, the No. 1-ranked player in the state in the 2016 signing class, did not play in 2017 because of off-the-field issues. He used a redshirt year.
“We’re going to have to see what happens with Kristian,” Orgeron said when asked. “That’s still up in the air.”
Fulton plays an important position and area of need: cornerback. The Tigers have four on the roster and added a fifth in Kelvin Joseph, a safety out of Scotlandville that coaches are moving.
Another assistant coming ‘soon’
Orgeron does plan to add a 10th full-time assistant coach to the staff, he said Wednesday.
The NCAA increased the number of on-field assistants from nine to 10 last spring. The Tigers are likely to add the assistant to the defensive side.
“We’re going to add the 10th coach, add a guy that fits our staff the best,” Orgeron said. “We have some ideas in mind. It should be happening soon.”
One hour before national signing day arrived, Ed Orgeron received the phone call he dreaded.