Ed Orgeron was stuck in Longhorn country.
Decked in his Southern California apparel, Orgeron entered a crowded high school gymnasium, following Texas’ most prized prospect in the 2004 recruiting class.
The crowd quickly spotted the prospect, a local celebrity of sorts — a national celebrity had the internet been in full swing back then.
They began to chant his name, along with something else.
“Ade-dree-aan!” they screamed. “Tex-as!”
“Go Texas!” another yelled.
“Ade-dree-aan! Tex-as!” they called again.
“He’s got this leather jacket on,” Orgeron said, recalling the recruiting trip to rural Texas. “And everybody is screaming.”
Orgeron did not win this recruiting battle.
Adrian Peterson signed with Oklahoma, developed into a first-round NFL draft pick and has made his way to seven Pro Bowls.
For Orgeron, Peterson is the big one that got away.
“People don’t realize we came that close,” Orgeron said, gesturing with his index finger and thumb an inch apart, “to getting him.”
He hopes none of the big ones get away Wednesday. And there are a lot of big ones.
This national signing day has the makings of being LSU’s most volatile in years. The Tigers head into Wednesday with 21 commitments, about six to seven away from their objective of signees.
Not so coincidentally, the Tigers have eight primary, uncommitted targets heading into the big day, and many of them are some of the nation’s most highly touted recruits.
Houston-area defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, like Peterson, is Texas’ top prospect and ranked the sixth-best overall prospect in the 2017 class, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.
Plaquemine safety Todd Harris is a top-12 player at his position. Amite’s Devonta Smith is the ninth-best wide receiver in the nation, and Alabama receiver Nico Collins is the fifth-best player in his state. Defensive ends K’Lavon Chaisson, of Houston, and Markaviest Bryant, of Georgia, are in the top 15 at their position. And Willie Gay, of Mississippi, and Tyler Taylor, of Georgia, play linebacker, a position of need for the Tigers.
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The eyes of the Tigers are on those eight. The action starts early Wednesday, with Taylor’s announcement at 7:45 a.m., and it'll finish late, with Wilson’s 3:30 p.m. signing airing on ESPNU.
In between, LSU’s 21 commitments are expected to sign with the Tigers — although a couple, including Mobile, Alabama-area defensive tackle Neil Farrell, could flip to another school.
Oh, yes, it’s sure to be a volatile day, a true test for LSU’s new coach, a man known for his ability to close on a recruit.
“It’s closing time,” Orgeron said last week. “We feel like we have an excellent class. We feel like we’re filling some needs on the defensive side.”
Ten of LSU’s 21 verbal pledges — including six who are already enrolled — are on defense. Six of those eight uncommitted targets are defensive players — all but one playing on the front seven, a critical area that Orgeron is focused on rebuilding to the days of Glenn Dorsey, Barkevious Mingo and Kevin Minter.
LSU has not had a front-seven player selected in the first round in the past three NFL drafts. The Tigers had four in a six-year span starting with Dorsey in 2008 and ending with Mingo in 2013.
“You win in this league on the defensive line,” Orgeron said in September after being introduced as LSU’s interim coach.
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No matter what happens, LSU will likely have more out-of-state signees than it has in, possibly, school history. At 14 non-Louisiana commitments, the Tigers need only to sign one more to equal what is believed to be the record of 15.
Of those eight targets, six are from outside of Louisiana. Orgeron promised upon accepting the full-time job that he would search nationally for top-flight talent.
Now, can he close on them?
“We have to recruit better,” he said at his introductory news conference. “We have to get players that are very similar to the benchmark of this conference.”