Fireworks in LSU’s 2016 signing class came in January, when five highly touted prospects enrolled early.
Booms were heard in the summer, when eight recruits committed in an 18-day span in June.
And the feel-good story of the class? That happened Sunday, when Zachary quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. announced his commitment.
That didn’t leave much for coach Les Miles and staff on Wednesday’s signing day — aside from securing a haul of stars ranked, collectively, in the top-five nationally despite some bumpy moments.
“When you look at a class that is this talented as this class alongside a veteran team,” Miles said, “we like our chances.”
LSU finished signing day with a smaller-than-expected 23-member class that ranked between Nos. 3 and 6 nationally — a far cry from a group expected to reach 26 to 27 signees and give a serious run at claiming the mythical recruiting national title.
After all, the Tigers entered Wednesday with 23 commitments and the No. 1 ranking in three of four recruiting outlets. Then came the bumps.
Four-star linebacker Erick Fowler, of Texas, flipped from LSU to Texas, and Florida four-star cornerback Trayvon Mullen picked Clemson. Texas safety Deontay Anderson, while skydiving, announced for Ole Miss rather than LSU.
Amid all of the signing-day mess, a radio personality on a local Baton Rouge station suggested offensive coordinator Cam Cameron would be leaving the Tigers — a report that the school, Miles and Cameron denied vehemently.
“Not true,” Cameron said in a text to The Advocate.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Cameron said in a statement released by the school.
Even a national ESPN reporter, embedded with the staff Wednesday, asked Miles and Cameron about the report.
“What kind of fraud would I be if I left today?” Cameron told ESPN’s Marty Smith. “Every one of my recruits called me. I’m not going anywhere.”
Those were midday fireworks on a ho-hum signing day that still produced one of the highest-ranked classes under Miles and nearly broke a record.
LSU signed 19 prospects ranked in the ESPN top 300 — tied for the most ever in a single signing class, the network said. The Tigers reeled in a whopping 16 four-star recruits — the most of any school aside form Florida State and Ohio State (17 each).
Miles and crew nearly swept the state, signing nine of Louisiana’s top 10 prospects in a banner year. In 12 signing classes under Miles, LSU had never signed more than seven of the state’s top 10 players, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.
Five-star Rummel cornerback Kristian Fulton, the top player in the state, signed with the Tigers at about noon Wednesday to cap a whopping 17 Louisiana signees.
“LSU hasn’t dominated Louisiana like this since 2003,” tweeted Barton Simmons, director of scouting for 247Sports.
LSU’s class finished at No. 3 in 247Sports’ composite team rankings, which combine all of the major recruiting sites. Since 2002, only two LSU classes ranked better in the composite poll: No. 1 in 2009 and No. 2 in 2014.
Alabama stormed to its fifth straight No. 1 ranking, and Florida State was second. Ohio State, Michigan, Ole Miss, Georgia, Southern California, Auburn and Clemson rounded out the top 10.
“I think more than anything, it has to be guided with the idea that you’re answering needs and not necessarily getting rankings,” Miles said. “And there’s some guys on that board that I certainly recognize as great players, and some guys that I recognize as guys that we did not go after.”
ESPN ranked LSU’s class No. 1 as late as 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. After the site shifted the rankings to account for new signees, the Tigers fell to third.
“The signing class, again, whether it’s No. 1 or No. 3 — when I left the (war) room it was No. 1 — the key piece is that you answer needs,” Miles said.
In a front-seven-focused year, LSU signed seven of them, including three defensive tackles, each ranked in the top 17 at their position. They signed just one linebacker, early enrollee Michael Divinity, but Miles said the coaches plan to move Texas native Rahssan Thornton from defensive end to linebacker.
Position moves like that are expected to come more frequently in new coordinator Dave Aranda multiple, varying defense. Miles twice Wednesday referred to the defense as “Okie” — a three-defensive linemen, four-linebacker scheme.
“(There’s) opportunity for him to stand up and play very significant football as a true freshman,” Miles said of Divinity.
He’ll have to beat out a few veterans on a deep, experienced squad that’s expected to return 18 starters.
Add in the third-ranked signing class, and expectations are high.
They got even higher Wednesday night when Miles, speaking to hundreds gathered at the Tiger Gridiron Bayou Bash in the River Center, said, “This is a team that can win it all.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.