Ed Orgeron and his LSU football coaching staff set about to building a foundation for their program with the early signees in this 2017-18 recruiting class.
Or, more to the point, they went about the business of foundation repair for a program that began to show some significant cracks in recent years.
LSU went extra-heavy on the heavyweights with Wednesday’s crop of signees. Ten of the 18 are offensive and defensive linemen. The intent was to address huge needs for the Tigers, and in the opinion of this writer, to address what has grown to be the biggest gap between LSU and SEC West bell cow Alabama.
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Linemen don’t always move the needle in recruiting rankings. It’s not easy to make a highlight reel out of someone making a pulling block or a tackle compared to a tailback zipping out of the backfield or a cornerback making an acrobatic interception.
Admittedly, six of the 10 linemen LSU signed were rated as three stars, according to 247Sports’ national composite rankings — not the types of guys who are going to come popping out of a cake live on ESPNU or writing the name of their school in sparklers when they sign.
That number doesn’t count Texas Tech defensive tackle transfer Breiden Fehoko, who has gotten rave reviews in practice and shared the team’s Alvin Roy Award for strength and conditioning with fullback J.D. Moore.
But at its heart, with or without the Matt Canada shifts or the Gus Malzahn up-tempo attack, football is still the same game it has always been: You block, you tackle, you run and you throw better than the other guy, and you’ll usually win.
LSU had to get back to that basic, and Orgeron has good reason to believe it starts with this recruiting class.
“We had to start with the lines,” Orgeron said during LSU’s online recruiting show Wednesday. “It’s a big man’s game. Game is won up front. We wanted to get big. Wanted to go with size.
“We got it.”
During the first two weeks of preseason camp in August, offensive line coach Jeff Grimes did not have enough healthy scholarship linemen to cr…
The result may be a class ranked “low” by recent LSU standards. After Wednesday’s 18 signees, the Tigers were ranked No. 15 by 247 Sports, 12th by ESPN and 12th by Rivals. Some LSU rooters may label those numbers disappointing, while others who perpetually expect the roof to cave in on the Tigers' program may welcome them as proof of their theory.
Shea Dixon, recruiting analyst for 247Sports, said LSU has built a foundation for this class that is on the right track.
"With the two signing periods, (Orgeron) wanted to sign a majority of offensive and defensive linemen early," Dixon said. "Februrary will be very heavy on the skill players: receivers, running backs, quarterback, cornerback. That’s when we’ll see the final piece of this class take shape.”
If LSU gets to the 25-scholarship limit with the skill players it’s still pursuing, like five-star cornerback Patrick Surtain or four-star receiver Justin Watkins, both of Florida, Dixon figures the Tigers have a shot to land in the top 10 once again when the final rankings come out in early February.
“If they end up in the 8-12 range, that’s probably a consensus real good effort because, A) they will have rebuilt in the trenches, and B) it’s a year where Louisiana isn’t as deep as it usually is.”
LSU coach Ed Orgeron made it known with this 2018 recruiting class -- it needed to big.
This is the first year for the early signing period, so it’s natural that perceptions of this LSU class will be based on old reflexes.
At best, the Tigers get a B+ for their efforts so far but at worst an “incomplete” with a maximum of seven spots remaining to fill over the next seven weeks. The skillful work of bringing in talented skill players starts Friday, as LSU is hoping to sign Parkway wide receiver Terrace Marshall, the state’s only composite five-star prospect this year, and keep him out of Jimbo Fisher’s clutches at Texas A&M.
The only other big void is at quarterback. Louisiana No. 2 Justin Rogers, a dual-threat quarterback also from Parkway, signed Wednesday with TCU. LSU is still in hot pursuit of Montgomery (Alabama) Lanier quarterback James Foster, like Rogers a four-star dual threat, as well as Birmingham Mountain Brook running back Harold Joiner, the third-ranked prospect in Alabama.
Should LSU get Joiner, it will fill another big need (the Tigers did sign four-star tailback Chris Curry on Wednesday from Lehigh Acres, Florida). Orgeron indicated Wednesday he may sign two more running backs and dropped a weighty hint that he may already have one committed.
“If you’re not happy where your class is,” ESPN recruiting coordinator Craig Haubert said Tuesday on the SEC Network, “just hold on.”
The final touches on this recruiting cycle are yet to be completed. For now, though, LSU has a good foundation from which to build.