Ed Orgeron, Foster Moreau

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, left, high fives tight end Foster Moreau (84) after defeating Louisville 29-9 in the Citrus Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) ORG XMIT: FLJR118

John Raoux

Foster Moreau’s mother told him to sleep in.

As a 17-year-old senior in high school, he did not argue with the request, especially after waking up feeling sick. He slept in so much that he didn’t get into the shower until about 10 a.m. that Wednesday. He’ll never forget the day: Feb. 4, 2015.

You might know it better as 2015 national signing day.

He awoke without a committable scholarship offer from LSU.

“I’m in the shower listening to music on a speaker. And I hear my phone ring, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God,’ ” Moreau said recently, recalling that morning. “I have soap in my hair. I jump out the shower and bolt to my phone. It’s coach (Cam) Cameron.

“I pick up, and coach (Les) Miles is on the line. He goes, ‘Hey, Foster, how ya doing?’ ”

That’s how it happened. More precisely, that’s when it happened.

Moreau received his LSU scholarship offer two hours into national signing day, immediately committing and then signing a few hours later at a function at New Orleans' Jesuit High.

He was the last LSU signee that year to be offered a scholarship, occupying the final available spot in the group. You can call him Mr. Irrelevant, the term usually used to describe the last player selected in the NFL draft.

There are Mr. Irrelevants at the college level, too. In fact, Moreau is far from the first or last Mr. Irrelevant in an LSU signing class. He’s not even the only one on the current team.

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lsufootball.042117 HS 268.JPG

Tight ends Foster Moreau, in the distance acting as a batter, and Colin Jeter were the last players added to LSU's signing classes. 

Dutchtown High product Lloyd Cushenberry was offered a scholarship three days before signing day last year. Destrehan High receiver Justin Jefferson, the brother of former LSU players Rickey and Jordan, didn’t officially have a spot in the 2017 class until August.

The school is on a successful streak with these late additions. Moreau has six starts under his belt and is expected to be the Tigers’ starting tight end this year, a 6-foot-6, 250-pounder whom coaches raved about this offseason as a physical player and team leader. Cushenberry, after a redshirt season last year, is competing for a starting spot on the offensive line.

There are former LSU Mr. Irrelevants now in the NFL. Linebackers Duke Riley and Deion Jones, in 2013 and 2012, were the last signees in their class to receive LSU scholarship offers. They were selected by the Falcons in the second round of the draft in consecutive years.

“Just goes to show you how much we know,” a chuckling Ed Orgeron said earlier this summer.

Recruiting is no exact science, but it is a numbers game.

Coaches dole out dozens of scholarship offers each year, despite NCAA rules limiting them to signing, on average, 25 players per class. Not every offer is what is termed in the recruiting world as a “committable" offer. For example, LSU has extended offers to 235 players for the 2018 class, according to 247Sports.com.

“They can’t take that many,” said Sonny Shipp, a recruiting reporter for Geaux247, the 247Sports site covering LSU. “They’re going to extend some offers to kids they’d take in a heartbeat, but you see so many offers extended these days. It basically means, ‘Come to camps so we can evaluate you.’ Or, ‘We’re going to keep an eye on you.’ ”

The scholarship offer, Shipp said, is the new version of the recruiting letter. Prospects years ago would receive a letter from a school, acknowledging the program’s interest in the player. That still happens, but the meaning has changed.

About "95 percent" of prospects whom a school is seriously recruiting hold scholarship offers, Shipp said. 

Those holding offers that aren't committable are relying on other prospects — ranked higher on a team’s recruiting board — to choose their college destinations first. The wait sometimes lasts until signing day.

“Coaches hold spots for kids they hope they get,” Shipp said. “When they don’t, that’s when these guys come into play.”

You don’t have to explain all of this to Moreau.

He waited out signing day morning announcements of LSU targets: Mississippi linebacker Leo Lewis and Patterson receiver Daylon Charlot. The latter made his commitment to Alabama just before 10 a.m., minutes before Miles rang Moreau’s phone.

“That whole week, I was looking at the other offers and recruits I knew who could potentially come here and weren’t committed anywhere else,” Moreau said. “It really just got me steamed up a little bit thinking about it. I was like, ‘God, just go there! Just don’t go here!’ ”

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Duke Riley

Duke Riley received a scholarship offer from LSU six days before national signing day. 

Sometimes, the line between a real and a non-committable offer blur. Communication from the coaching staff isn’t always crystal clear.

LSU offered Moreau around Christmas, about six weeks before signing day. He announced his commitment in a tweet before having to remove it after learning, no, it was not necessarily a committable offer.

The most recent Mr. Irrelevant, Jefferson, needed a 2017 signee to leave the program to get a spot. Seth Stewart, an offensive tackle signee from West Virginia, spent just a few days in Baton Rouge in June before leaving the team.

Tight end Colin Jeter, then a junior-college player, didn't get an offer until June 2014, well after signing day, while attending an LSU camp. Jones and Riley forced the decision on Tigers coaches, committing to Nebraska and TCU, respectively, before offers arrived. 

Cushenberry might not have received his offer if linebacker Erick Fowler hadn’t dropped his LSU commitment the weekend before signing day in 2016. Coaches knew Fowler would be publicly decommitting on national signing day and signing with Texas, Shipp said.

It’s no coincidence that Cushenberry landed his offer Monday, two days before signing day and a day after Fowler removed "LSU commit" from his profile on Twitter. Cushenberry visited campus that Monday, two days before he had planned to sign with Mississippi State.

“Monday they told me, ‘The spot is yours,’ ” Cushenberry said. “We continued to talk until signing day. I was pretty much stressing out.”

So was Moreau, just a year before. His backup plan was to sign with Tulane.

“The weekend before (signing day), coach Miles said he didn’t know if he would have an offer,” Moreau said. “Coach Frank (Wilson) was very positive, but a lot of it was coach Cameron. Coach Cam, I’ve heard from multiple sources but never from him, he’s the guy who got me here. He really stood on the table for me, is what I’ve heard from other coaches, as the guy who got me here.”

Moreau openly discusses his route to Baton Rouge. He’s not ashamed of it and doesn’t feel neglected for being the very last offer of the 2015 class.

He feels the exact opposite.

“To some extent, it’s motivation, but it’s really just a blessing,” he said. “That scholarship could have gone to a lot of guys. Getting that, I figured I should work harder than anybody else. If someone is still in the weight room, I’m not leaving until they are.”

Moreau is poised to not only be a starter this year. He is one of a handful of team leaders, a gregarious and boisterous player who outlasted so many other more highly touted signees in that class.

Eight players in that signing class never made it to campus, transferred or were dismissed. Meanwhile, the Mr. Irrelevants fight on, thriving in Baton Rouge as another season approaches.

“When I signed, I just felt like, ‘It’s time to work,’ ” Cushenberry said. “Everything that happened in high school, it doesn’t matter. It all goes away, the stars and rankings.”


MR. IRRELEVANT

LSU’s last four signing classes each included a late scholarship offer, doled out in the days preceding national signing day. That player occupied the last open spot in that year’s signing class. The final player selected in the NFL draft each season is known as Mr. Irrelevant. Here’s LSU’s version of that:

 Class

 Player

 High school

 Career

 LSU offered…

 2017

 WR Justin Jefferson

 Destrehan

 Joined team a week into camp this year

 Summer after national signing day

 2016

 OL Lloyd Cushenberry

 Dutchtown

 Redshirted last year but battling for starting RB position

 Two days before national signing day

 2015

 TE Foster Moreau

 Jesuit

 Six-game starter who’s poised to lead the TEs in 2017

 Morning of national signing day

 2014

 TE Colin Jeter

 Kilgore (Texas)

 Two-year starter who signed free agent deal with Colts*

 In June after national signing day

 2013

 LB Duke Riley

 John Curtis

 A 12-game starter as a senior and second-round draft pick

 Six days before national signing day

 2012

 LB Deion Jones

 Jesuit

 A 100-tackle senior year led to a second-round draft pick

 December before national signing day

* — Jeter was injured during training camp and agreed to a settlement with the Colts

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.