A debate is raging in the national office of 247Sports.com, the online recruiting outlet: In which state should University High School star turned IMG Academy graduate Dylan Moses be listed?

“He’s still got Louisiana in his blood. He’s a Louisiana kid at heart,” said Barton Simmons, director of scouting for 247Sports. “It’s a debate we’re having. Right now, we have him in Florida, but I’m of the opinion that he should stay under Louisiana.”

Moses’ departure left a void in Louisiana’s 2017 high school talent pool. Moses left for Bradenton-based IMG last January as the nation’s No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2017 — the standard-bearer for a group of Louisiana standouts. Now, he’s no longer considered part of the state’s 2017 class.

His absence is a reason, albeit not the only one, that this year’s group of Louisiana recruits isn’t as top-heavy or as deep as in previous years.

It pales in comparison to last year's, which was possibly the state’s most highly touted class ever. The 2016 Louisiana crop featured 21 players rated four or five stars in 247Sports’ composite rankings. This year’s class has 12.

Six of the top 10 in 2016 were ranked in the top five nationally at his position. Just one of the top 10 this year is ranked in the top five at his position.

“It’s cyclical,” said Hank Tierney, a longtime coach in the state who's now at Ponchatoula. “The state’s always going to have good talent. Some years are better than others.”

Several recruiting experts are calling this a “down cycle” in Louisiana, but there is plenty of talent in this class, even if it’s not as top-heavy as 2014 or as deep as 2016. Take, for instance, The Advocate’s Super Dozen, led by guys like Notre Dame defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, Amite receiver Devonta Smith, Southern Lab linebacker Chris Allen and Jennings running back Travis Etienne.

Those four, and more than 30 others, will play football at a major college somewhere. It’s the “where” that’s different this year: The vast majority of the state’s top players won’t end up at LSU, as they did in 2016.

The Tigers have commitments from just seven Louisiana prospects. They have verbal pledges from 14 out-of-state recruits.

Just two of the state’s top 10 players in 247Sports’ composite rankings are committed to LSU. Five of the top 10 are uncommitted, though, and LSU is heavily pursuing four of them with national signing day arriving Wednesday.

Since 2006, LSU has never signed fewer than five of the state’s top 10 players. Since 2005, the school has never signed fewer than 11 Louisiana prospects.

Why could both of those things happen this year?

“It’s the state being down and Alabama,” said Mike Scarborough, publisher of TigerBait.com, the Rivals.com affiliate that covers LSU.

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide are mining the state again, taking advantage of a transition year after longtime coach Les Miles’ firing and the promotion of Ed Orgeron. Allen, ranked the No. 8 outside linebacker in the nation, is a Bama commitment, and the Tide is battling LSU for three other players listed in 247Sports' composite top five in the state: Smith, Plaquemine safety Todd Harris and Neville defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis.

It’s more than just the Tide, experts said. It’s the state.

LSU has gone to other states for talent this year more than ever, a side effect of the “down cycle” in Louisiana but also a change in recruiting approach under Orgeron.

“Traditionally, we’ve seen LSU stick to Louisiana, east Texas and south Florida,” said Shea Dixon, reporter for Geaux247, the 247Sports site covering the Tigers. “I think that will change under Orgeron. The umbrella will widen of where these kids are coming from.”

It’s already happening. LSU could sign more non-Louisiana prospects in 2017 than it has in any of the previous 25 classes. LSU’s 14 out-of-state commitments — five of them have already enrolled — are just one short of matching the program high since 1992. The Tigers signed 15 out-of-state recruits in 2015 and 2007.

Before his promotion to interim head coach, Orgeron managed the recruiting territories of New Orleans' north shore and the Atlanta area. Atlanta is “Orgeron’s thing,” Dixon said. Just last week, the program offered five players at one high school in Grayson, Georgia, which is about 30 miles outside of Atlanta.

Orgeron has worked in Mississippi, Florida and California, too — all states with plenty of football talent.

“I’d expect LSU to start doling out California offers,” Dixon said.

Recruiting out of state is nothing new for the Tigers. Nearly half (about 45 percent) of the players in LSU’s previous 11 signing classes under Miles were not from Louisiana. LSU signed more out-of-state guys than Louisiana players in three of those 11 years.

But the need for out-of-state talent is greater this year — and in years to come, Scarborough said. Orgeron “has to” recruit more out of state than Miles did, he said.

“I don’t see the high number of players at key positions in this state for the coming years,” Scarborough said. “You’re not going to be able to get away with doing things Les did, like keeping your assistants on campus on Friday night of an SEC game (during the season). You’re going to have to go to Missouri and North Carolina and be seen.”

LSU’s low number of Louisiana commitments is a touch deceiving. Many of them have Louisiana ties or used to live in the state.

Safety Grant Delpit, an IMG Academy graduate who grew up in Houston, is native to New Orleans. Mississippi quarterback Myles Brennan’s family is from New Orleans, and receiver Stephen Guidry, a junior-college transfer, played at Pointe Coupee Central and Livonia.

"I was born in New Orleans," said Brennan, who was raised in Pass Christian, Mississippi, not far from the state border. "Parents went to Tulane. I’ve lived in Mississippi my whole life, but the family, we’re known as Louisianans. I’m still going to support my fans from Mississippi. I grew up here, but I do have a lot of roots in Louisiana."

Moses grew up in Baton Rouge and attended his first few years of high school on LSU's campus at U-High. He committed to Alabama a week after LSU fired Miles and enrolled in Tuscaloosa this month.

He was a significant recruiting loss for LSU — and for the state, too.

Although that's still up for debate.

“I still think Alabama,” Simmons said, “is landing a Louisiana kid.”


Beyond the border

LSU could sign its fewest Louisiana players in several years. The Tigers often look outside the state, but that’s true more than ever this year:

Year

Louisiana players

Out-of-state players

Texas players

Florida players

2017

7

14

4

1

2016

17

8

3

2

2015

15

10

5

1

2014

11

14

7

2

2013

12

15

0

3

2012

15

9

3

1

2011

15

7

3

0

2010

14

13

3

2

2009

13

12

4

0

2008

15

11

4

4

2007

11

15

5

3

2006

14

12

3

1

2005

8

5

4

1

2004

16

12

4

3

2003

15

12

4

2

2002

18

7

1

4

2001

14

13

4

5

2000

21

6

3

0

1999

20

8

4

0

1998

21

5

3

0

1997

16

10

5

3

1996

19

10

2

2

1995

19

6

1

0

1994

19

5

1

1

1993

19

9

4

4

1992

15

12

3

0

Note: 2017 players are commitments, although six have already enrolled

Breaking it down

Here's how LSU has fared when it comes to signing the top 10 and top five players in the state each year since 2006. For 2017, the Tigers have two of the top 10 committed and one of the top five. Four of the top 10 are uncommitted.

Year

Top 10 signed

Top 5 signed

Others in top 10 signed with …

2016

9

4

Alabama

2015

7

3

Alabama, Notre Dame, Oregon

2014

5

2

Alabama (3), Texas A&M, Florida 

2013

7

4

Alabama, Miami, did not sign

2012

6^

2

Alabama (2), Arkansas, Texas

2011

7

4

Alabama, Auburn, did not sign

2010

7*

4

Texas A&M, TCU, Auburn

2009

6*

4

Alabama (2), Mississippi State, Tennessee

2008

7*

4#

Alabama, Arkansas, Penn State

2007

5*

3

Tennessee (2), Alabama, Southern California, did not sign

2006

7^

5

Alabama, Ole Miss, American International

^ — Didn’t offer a scholarship to one of the top 10 who signed elsewhere
* — Didn’t offer a scholarship to two of the top 10 who signed elsewhere
# — Didn’t offer a scholarship to one of the top five who signed elsewhere

By the numbers

Louisiana’s four- and five-star prospects each year for the past 10 signing classes:

  • 2017: 12
  • 2016: 21
  • 2015: 13
  • 2014: 16
  • 2013: 12
  • 2012: 12
  • 2011: 12
  • 2010: 7
  • 2009: 11
  • 2008: 8
  • 2007: 13

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.