As Ed Orgeron promised, LSU landed a second running back.
Alabama native Tae Provens made his verbal pledge official on Thursday, becoming the Tigers' 19th signee of this early signing period.
Provens, an LSU commitment since June, is ranked by recruiting services as an “athlete,” but in Baton Rouge he’s expected to play running back — a remaining position of need for Orgeron and Co. The Tigers signed 10 linemen on Wednesday, Day 1 of the three-day early signing period. Now, it’s on to skill positions.
The Tigers lose senior Darrel Williams, and junior Derrius Guice is expected to leave for the NFL draft. Their top two receivers, Russell Gage and DJ Chark, are seniors.
Signee No. 20 is expected to come Friday, when Dallas native Jarell Cherry is expected to sign. No. 21 might, too: Parkway receiver Terrace Marshall, top-ranked nationally at his position, will choose among LSU, Texas and Texas A&M.
That would leave four spots available in the 2018 signing class with the traditional early signing day still to come Feb. 7. Schools are under a strict mandate this year: They cannot sign more than 25 players.
Orgeron alluded to his crammed class Wednesday. The Tigers’ 18-person haul Wednesday could have been more. For instance, Evangel safety ArDarius Washington, an LSU commitment, did not sign.
“We could have signed three to four more guys, and we didn’t want to do that,” Orgeron said. “We have certain slots we have to fill in the next four to five (open) scholarships, and we have to go after those guys. They’re big to our class.”
Those might include Florida cornerback Patrick Surtain, Rummel receiver JaMarr Chase, Curtis tight end Glenn Beal, running back Harold Joiner from Alabama, athlete Mario Goodrich of Missouri, quarterback James Foster from Alabama, Dunham’s Michael Williams, receiver Justin Watkins from Florida and Baton Rouge safety Kelvin Joseph.
Provens, who will enroll in January, gives the Tigers a speedy 5-11, 180-pounder at a position that is losing a lot. LSU will lose its top four rushers: Guice (1,153 yards), Williams (776), Gage (217) and quarterback Danny Etling (107). Just one expected returnee has scored a rushing touchdown: receiver Stephen Sullivan, who had one.
Provens, from just outside of Huntsville, Alabama, joins Wednesday signee Chris Curry, a top-15 running back prospect out of Florida. Provens is rated as the No. 57 prospect among those classified as “athletes” in 247Sports’ composite rankings. He missed four games with an ankle injury this past season and ran for 598 yards and six touchdowns. He rushed for 2,549 yards combined in his junior and sophomore seasons.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron is attempting to lock up the north part of Louisiana, and he believes this is a strong start.
Arden Key has likely played his final college game, and the Tigers will be down three defensive starters for the Citrus Bowl.