Ed Orgeron knows as well as anyone that he has no time to waste.
Orgeron, who was announced as LSU’s 33rd head coach Saturday, has to act quickly. It’s recruiting season, and the initial contact period begins Sunday. The Tigers’ former recruiting coordinator was set to be on the phone Saturday night with recruits he hasn’t already spoken to, and he planned to hold a meeting with his staff Sunday morning before hitting the recruiting trail.
The first contact period, a two-week time frame, allows Orgeron and his staff to make in-home visits to current commitments and other top targets, especially those high school prospects who plan to enroll early at a university.
The removal of his interim tag couldn’t come at a better time. Though LSU lost only two of the 20 commitments to its 2017 class since Les Miles was fired, Orgeron's promotion is significant at this stage in the recruiting process.
Many of those commitments, including St. Stanislaus (Mississippi) quarterback Myles Brennan, voiced their support of Orgeron on social media when the news of his hiring broke Saturday.
“As you saw, we lost minimal commitments,” Orgeron said. “Those guys, in their talks with us, wanted me to be the head football coach. They said, ‘Coach, if you’re the head football coach, we’re coming.’ Now, I’m here. We have to go out and get them. Obviously, we know things change, but we have to go out and compete. Now, the real war’s starting in recruiting, but we’re ready to do it.”
And the Cajun from Larose will wage his recruiting war in Louisiana first. Orgeron’s ability to recruit the Tigers’ home state is a part of what made him such attractive candidate to athletic director Joe Alleva.
Of LSU’s 18 commitment for the 2017 class, which ranks fifth nationally according to 247Sports, six are from Louisiana. Notre Dame’s four-star defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, 247Sports’ highest rated player from Louisiana, highlights the in-state commitments.
Several of LSU’s top targets attend high school in Louisiana, such as Amite five-star wide receiver Devonta Smith and Southern Lab’s four-star outside linebacker Christopher Allen. Others, like IMG Academy (Florida) linebacker Dylan Moses, are originally from the state.
Moses, who plans to enroll early, was committed to LSU for two years before he decommitted in August 2015. LSU remained the favorite to land him until the 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker gave a verbal pledge to Alabama a week after LSU fired Les Miles.
“There's no question in my mind he's going to be able to recruit the state of Louisiana,” Alleva said of Orgeron. “He's one of the finest recruiters in the country.”
After Louisiana, Orgeron want to focus his recruiting efforts along the I-10 corridor to find “potential first-round draft picks.” He’ll go to the northeast or California, too, if a player catches his eye. How a prospect is rated by recruiting outlets does not matter to him.
“One star, two star, three star, four star, five star, any star, I don't care,” Orgeron said. “We going to get them.”
Players like Moses and Allen are key because they play positions where LSU lacks depth. The Tigers have just one linebacker committed to the 2017 class — Livonia four-star athlete Patrick Queen — and are losing two starting linebackers to graduation.
Other prospects, like Shelvin and Episcopal (Texas) five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, have elite size necessary to match up with teams in the SEC, specifically Alabama. 247Sports reported Saturday that Orgeron will make his first in-home visit to Wilson, who is uncommitted.
“You have to get great defensive line like (Alabama has),” Orgeron said. “You have to get great offensive line like they have, skill players. A lot of our players are as good as those players. I understand that. But we have to get better in some areas. We have to get better in our program in some areas to be able to beat them.”