The draft is normally in late April.

The event unfolds in some extravagant setting in a booming metro area, a three-day affair televised to a national audience.

Coach Ed Orgeron and his LSU staff held its own draft last month for the remaining openings in its 2018 signing class. It occurred in the quiet setting of a meeting room within the program’s football operations building — untelevised. As an NFL general manager does with his executives, Orgeron surrounded himself with his coaching staff members in front of something referred to as the "big board:" a list of the best high school recruits. 

An NFL team, in a normal year, might have seven selections in the draft. In this one, Orgeron and his coaches had four.

“What happens is, first of all, when you sign 21 in December, you have to go to the board,” he said. “You only have four left. You go to position of need and best player available. We had a draft. Had my staff up there, put the (recruits) up there.”

Their draft selections are coming into view as Wednesday’s national signing day arrives. He’ll know at various times Wednesday whether his four picks sign the deal LSU is offering.

The early signing day in December put a damper on the traditional first Wednesday in February, when thousands of high school football players sign National Letters of Intent to play at the next level. About 70 percent of recruits signed in December, according to ESPN, leaving a small pool of players for Wednesday’s action.

Orgeron and the Tigers are left with four open positions to fill their 25-man class. Their selections in that draft last month are pretty obvious: Scotlandville safety Kelvin Joseph, a commitment; Florida cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr.; Rummel receiver Ja’Marr Chase; and Alabama quarterback James Foster or Missouri defensive back Mario Goodrich.

There are other options, of course, but those five have risen to the top for the four open spots, it seems. The big fish is Surtain, the top-ranked cornerback in the 2018 class with a former Pro Bowl-playing father who starred at Edna Karr.

He’s a must-get, recruiting reporters say, a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder ranked as the sixth-best overall prospect in this year’s cycle.

“They’ve got to close on Patrick Surtain Jr. That’s a Corey Raymond deal all the way,” said Barton Simmons, 247Sports’ national recruiting reporter, referring to LSU’s defensive backs coach. “This is one of the guys he’s been working on for the longest.”

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Given his connections to the Bayou State, many expect Surtain to choose the Tigers, but a Southeastern Conference rival appears to be the biggest challenger. Surtain used an official visit to Alabama on the weekend of Jan. 19, and coach Nick Saban visited him in his home Jan. 16.

He’ll make his announcement at 9 a.m. Wednesday on ESPNU, the second target to announce Wednesday. Goodrich is scheduled to begin the day with a 7:30 a.m. announcement on a local Kansas City television station. Joseph is set to sign with the Tigers at 10 a.m., Foster will announce at 11 a.m. and Chase reveals his choice at noon.

Chase is the 15th-ranked receiver nationally, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, combining ratings from the major outlets into one figure. 247Sports has him as the state’s No. 1 player and a 5-star prospect.

Signings from Chase and Surtain could lift LSU’s class, for now No. 12 in the composite team rankings, inside the top 10, potentially extending a streak: the Tigers have finished inside the top 10 in all three major recruiting rankings every year since 2012. Already, the Tigers signed the state’s other elite receiver in Parkway’s Terrace Marshall.

“He’s a Jarvis Landry type of kid,” Simmons said of Chase. “If they land him, that gives them two of the top receivers in the country. That would be a heck of a finish for LSU. It should get them up to well inside the top 10.”

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In the rankings

The Tigers are trying to finish with a unanimous top-10 class for a sixth straight year.

 Signing year

 Rivals

 247Sports

 ESPN

 2018*

 11

 14

 12

 2017

 8

 7

 7

 2016

 6

 2

 3

 2015

 8

 6

 10

 2014

 2

 2

 2

 2013

 6

 6

 7

 2012

 18

 14

 14

 2011

 6

 8

 10

 2010

 6

 8

 8

 2009

 2

 1

 1

 2008

 11

 12

 11

*Class is not yet complete; this is a ranking of LSU’s 22 commitments/signees

Beyond The Border

LSU’s 21 early signees were nearly split 50-50 between in-state and out-of-state prospects. With four spots left, the Tigers stand at 11 in-state and 10 non-Louisiana players in this year’s class.

 Year

 Louisiana signees

 Out of state signees

 Texas signees

 Florida signees

 2018

 11

 10

 3

 2

 2017

 9

 15

 5

 0

 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


In the state

We break down how LSU has faired when it comes to signing the top 10 and top 5 players in the state each year since 2006. The Tigers currently have four of the top 10 in the state committed or signed and two of the top 5. Two of the top 10 are currently uncommitted.

 Year

 Top 10 Signed

 Top 5 signed

 Others in top 10 signed with…

 2018~

 4

 2

 Kansas (2), TCU (1), Miss. State (1)

 2017

 3

 2

 Alabama (3), Florida (1), Ga. Tech (1), MSU (1), Clemson (1)

 2016

 9

 4

 Alabama (1)

 2015

 7

 3

 Alabama (1) Notre Dame (1) Oregon (1)

 2014

 5

 2

 Alabama (3) Texas A&M (1) Florida (1)

 2013

 7

 4

 Alabama (1) Miami (1) DNS (1)

 2012

 6^

 2

 Alabama (2) Arkansas (1) Texas (1)

 2011

 7

 4

 Alabama (1) Auburn (1) DNS (1)

 2010

 7*

 4

 Texas A&M (1) TCU (1) Auburn (1)

 2009

 6*

 4

 Alabama (2) Mississippi State (1) UT (1)

 2008

 7*

 4#

 Alabama (1) Arkansas (1) Penn State (1)

~This class is not yet complete
^Didn’t offer one of the top-10 who signed elsewhere.
*Didn’t offer two of the top-10 who signed elsewhere.
#Didn’t offer one of the top-5 who signed elsewhere.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.

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