LSU football

LSU recruiting map

LSU football coachEd Orgeron misses the chase.

What’s the chase? That’s his favorite part of recruiting — the excitement of being on the road chasing after a highly touted defensive end or a blue chip linebacker, the competition of battling other assistants for a top-ranked running backs or a five-star receiver.

He’s no longer on the chase year around. Head coaches are restricted much more than assistants in what they can do in terms of recruiting. That’s never more evident than right now — during the spring evaluation period.

LSU assistants have been spread across the Southeast, each visiting up to eight high schools a day, watching dozens of teenagers participate in spring football practice and speaking to 30 or more high school coaches per week.

And Orgeron? He’s recruiting, yes, from behind a desk, while also traveling the state as the key note speaker at six stops on the Tiger Athletic Foundation’s Tiger Tour.

“I’m on the phone all day, texting recruits, calling coaches, calling our coaches on the road, watching film, doing as much recruiting as I can,” he said. “It’s different. I’d much rather be out there, but I do enjoy the Tiger Tours, coming out and meeting the people from Louisiana. It’s been a blast.”

In many ways, this is the beginning of the chase. It’s the all-important spring evaluation period — a 39-day stretch of time from April 15-May 31 (minus Sundays) where assistants are allowed to visit high school and watch spring drills.

More appropriate, maybe, this is the beginning of the race — the race to December’s new early signing period and the traditional February signing date.

“This is their big chance to get out and evaluate all of their top guys,” said Shea Dixon, recruiting reporter for Geaux247.com, the 247Sports site covering LSU. “It’s most important for guys new to the staff like (offensive coordinator Matt) Canada who has expectations of bringing in a quarterback, but he’s never seen any of them throw in person until these last couple of weeks.”

Canada and the rest of Orgeron’s staff members have been scattered from west Dallas to south Florida for the past three weeks. The eight position assistants and general manager Austin Thomas have covered their recruiting territories — they each have specified regions — while also scouring the nation for top prospects at the position they coach.

Loaded with video recordings they took of prospects and notes they scribbled down, assistants were scheduled to return Friday for a recruiting meeting with Orgeron.

“We’re coming in (Friday) and have a midway recruiting evaluation meeting. It’s going to be very important to see what we have there,” Orgeron said earlier this week. “We’ll go over every player they went to see. They have a questionnaire they fill out and they have an evaluation tape they make and we’ll discuss where we’re at with the young men. If there’s some new players that we need to discuss, we look at the (recruiting big) board and see where we’re at.”

Right now, LSU has the third-ranked 2018 class in the nation, with 15 commitments after safety Caleb Sterns flipped from the Tigers to Texas earlier this week. That’s more pledges than any team except one: No. 1-ranked Miami and its 17.

“They’re out to a fast start, been aggressive,” Dixon said. “That was (Orgeron’s) approach. ‘Fences have been down so we’re going to do our evaluations and hand out a lot more Louisiana offers than in the past.’ ”

The Tigers’ class is two-thirds complete by May, but it’s far from finished. Twelve of the 15 commitments play on defense. They’re lacking in two key areas: running back and receiver.

“They’ve got to finish strong offensively,” said Mike Scarborough, publisher at TigerBait.com, the Rivals.com affiliate covering LSU.

You don’t have to tell Orgeron.

“Obviously we have a tremendous recruiting class right now,” he said, “but we still have some big holes to fill, especially on the offensive side.”

The Tigers don’t have a running back committed and have just one receiver commitment.

Orgeron expects running back Derrius Guice to leave school after his junior season this year, something Guice revealed in December.

That would leave the Tigers with three scholarship running backs next season.

“Our major focal point in recruiting is to go get the best running back in the country,” Orgeron said this week on a podcast posted on the school’s website. “We’re going to sign two (running backs). This is the position of need for us.”

The Tigers have 19 offers out to running backs or all-purpose backs, according to 247Sports. Six of those are committed elsewhere, and just one of those is from the state of Louisiana.

Birmingham’s Harold Joiner is the one to watch, Dixon and Scarborough say. The 6-3, 220-pounder is ranked as the ninth-best running back in the 2018 class. He’s got a whopping 28 scholarship offers, including from his in-state schools Auburn and Alabama.

Whoever signs will likely see the field early.

“Those guys are going to have to step in and play,” Orgeron said. “That’s been our recruiting sales pitch the whole time.”

Receiver is a position with just as much need. Counting signee Racey McMath, LSU’s roster includes eight scholarship receivers — a product of so many departures. Jazz Ferguson became the fifth wideout to transfer from LSU in the last year in December.

The Tigers have offers out to 33 receivers, the most, by far, of any position group in the 2018 class. Seven are from Louisiana, led by Parkway’s Terrace Marshall, the top-ranked wideout in the nation, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.

Tight end coach Steve Ensminger, over the Shreveport area, and Canada visited Parkway already during the spring evaluation period, dropping in to see Marshall and his teammate, highly recruited quarterback Justin Rogers. Rogers plans to announce his commitment on May 31, and most feel he’s picking between LSU and TCU.

On Monday, coaches — minus Orgeron — will return to the road for the chase. In fact, several of them were scheduled to return to the road as early as Friday night after the meeting. Others, even, were heading to watch high school spring games Saturday.

Most assistants are designated to recruit in both an area of Louisiana and an area of the southeast. Thomas is the only assistant with no in-state recruiting territory. A Tennessee native with deep roots there, Thomas is in charge of recruiting much of his home state, along with the Atlanta area. He’s recruiting, through a waiver, in place of defensive line coach Pete Jenkins.

Secondary coach Corey Raymond’s recruiting territories span from Orlando, Florida, and south to Key West. He’s also in charge of recruiting near his hometown of New Iberia. Mickey Joseph, the first-year receivers coach from New Orleans, has his hometown, too.

Ensminger splits the Dallas area with Grimes, and they’re in charge of territories in state. First-year assistants Tommie Robinson and Dennis Johnson split Houston, a critical area of recruiting for LSU. Robinson, an Alabama native, also takes Mobile and Baton Rouge. Johnson leads the charge in Monroe.

The coordinators each have small recruiting areas in-state only, but Canada searches for quarterbacks nationwide, and Dave Aranda combs the country for inside linebackers.

The chase reignites Monday — or in some cases, earlier.

Said Orgeron: “This is a big-time period for us.”


247Sports team recruiting rankings

 Rank/Team

 Commits

 4 & 5 stars

 1 Miami

 17

 12

 2 Penn State

 13

 7

 3 LSU

 15

 7

 4 Ohio State

 9

 9

 5 Notre Dame

 11

 6

 6 Clemson

 8

 6

 7 Florida State

 8

 5

 8 Nebraska

 10

 5

 9 Washington

 8

 5

 10 Texas

 8

 5


LSU’s 2018 commit position breakdown (15 total commits)

  • Defensive line: 6
  • Defensive backs: 3
  • Linebackers: 3
  • Offensive line: 2
  • Receivers: 1
  • Quarterbacks: 0
  • Backs: 0
  • Fullback/tight ends: 0

2018 LSU commitments (15 total)

 Name

 Hometown (School)

 Position Rank

 Commit Date

 CB Kelvin Joseph

 Baton Rouge (Scotlandville)

 5th

 Feb. 2016

 OLB Adam Anderson

 Rome, Georgia (Rome)

 4th

 April 2017

 DT Davin Cotton

 Evangel Christian (Shreveport)

 19th

 Feb. 2017

 DE Jarell Cherry

 Dallas, Texas (Carter)

 13th

 April 2017

 S Nadab Joseph

 Hialeah, Florida (Champagnat)

 21st

 June 2016

 OG Chasen Hines

 Marshall, Texas (Marshall)

 14th

 March 2017

 ILB Damone Clark

 Baton rouge (Southern Lab)

 12th

 Jan. 2017

 DE Jamarcus Chatman

 Rome, Georgia (Rome)

 13th

 April 2017

 ILB Micah Baskerville

 Shreveport (Evangel Christian)

 16th

 Feb. 2017

 DE Travez Moore

 Bastrop (Copiah-Lincoln CC)

 1st *

 Feb. 2017

 WR Jaray Jenkins

 Jena (Jena)

 76th

 March 2017

 OC Cole Smith

 Pontotoc, Mississippi (Pontotoc)

 6th

 March 2017

 DT Nelson Jenkins

 Plaquemine (Plaquemine)

 46th

 Feb. 2017

 S ArDarius Washington

 Shreveport (Evangel Christian)

 52nd

 Feb. 2017

 DE Jaquon Griffin

 Rome, Georgia (Rome)

 43rd

 April 2017


WHERE Y’AT?

While at LSU’s coaching clinic in March, Ed Orgeron announced recruiting territories for his new assistants. Outside of their territories, most of the assistants will recruit nationally for their position. For instance, OL coach Jeff Grimes is responsible for the Lake Charles area, but he’ll also recruit linemen nationally.

Assistant

Staff position

Recruiting territories

Jeff Grimes

Offensive line coach

East Dallas, Alexandria and Lake Charles areas

Austin Thomas*

General manager

Tennessee, Atlanta area

Matt Canada

Offensive coordinator

North shore

Mickey Joseph

Receivers coach

New Orleans area, River Parishes

Corey Raymond

Secondary coach

South Florida, New Iberia area

Dave Aranda

Defensive coordinator

Lafayette area

Dennis Johnson

OLBs coach

Houston area, Monroe area

Tommie Robinson

Running backs coach

Mobile area, Houston area, Baton Rouge

Steve Ensminger

Tight ends coach

West Dallas, Shreveport area

*Is recruiting in place of D-line coach Pete Jenkins, through a waiver

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.