A year ago, the excitement bubble over LSU recruiting slowly collapsed like a cake that lost its lift.
First, Dutchtown’s Landon Collins picked Alabama over LSU, then Alabama beat LSU in the BCS national championship game.
Hot shot quarterback Gunner Kiel switched commitments from Indiana to LSU to Notre Dame, prompting a frustrated LSU coach Les Miles to question the measurables of his chest. And the final flat tire: Torshiro Davis’ signing day flip from LSU commitment to Texas signee.
Going into Wednesday, National Signing Day 2013, LSU is hoping to avoid such negative drama — and generate a few excitement bubbles of its own.
At the top of LSU’s list is the player at the top of everyone’s list: Logansville (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s unanimous No. 1 prospect.
Nkemdiche (6-foot-5, 265 pounds), his father and Logansville teammate David Kamara, a cornerback expected to take the junior college route, made an official visit to LSU over the weekend.
Based on a number of positive Twitter messages by Nkemdiche, the Tigers made a favorable impression on the nation’s No. 1 player, appearing to dig into the lead Ole Miss reportedly has for his signature.
Can LSU crack the lead? In a rare interview Monday with Fox Sports, Nkemdiche spoke of Ole Miss, saying: “Together the recruiting class that’s coming in, we can do some special things.”
Mickey Conn, Nkemdiche’s high school coach, told The Associated Press his star prospect has “clammed up pretty good” about his plans.
“I think it’s been extremely tough on him,” Conn said. “He’s getting pulled in more directions than what most people want.
“Having a brother who is playing at Ole Miss adds more pressure to Robert. He wants to make the right choice.”
Nkemdiche’s older brother, Denzel, is a linebacker at Ole Miss.
Robert Nkemdiche is scheduled to announce his decision at 6:35 a.m. Wednesday on ESPNU.
While Nkemdiche’s signing day drama will end early, Priest Willis’ recruiting saga will apparently go into overtime.
Multiple reports Tuesday said that one of LSU’s top remaining targets, Willis (6-2, 199) — a safety from Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos De Niza — will not sign with a school Wednesday.
Willis committed to UCLA two weeks ago after an official visit to Westwood, but LSU has remained in hot pursuit, making a recent in-home visit.
Asked by Rivals.com whether the Tigers are making a late run, or whether he is definitely sticking with UCLA, Willis replied: “not sure.”
LSU also remains hot after several other prospects, including defensive end Tashawn Bower (6-5, 241), an Auburn commitment; wide receiver Eddie Jackson (6-1, 178), an Alabama commitment; and Rummel tight end Cethan Carter (6-4, 240), who is committed to Nebraska.
Though much final-day juggling can be expected, LSU goes into the biggest day of recruiting with a highly ranked top-10 class.
LSU’s recruiting haul so far is ranked No. 4 nationally by 24/7 Sports, No. 5 by Rivals and Scout and No. 6 by ESPN.
The Tigers have 14 players off the 24/7 Sports Top 247, six off the Rivals 100 and 13 in all off the Rivals 250, six off the ESPN 150 and 14 off the ESPN 300, and three off the Scout 100 and 13 in all off the Scout 300.
Players may begin signing at 7 a.m. local time. LSU’s website, LSUSports.net, will feature a live signing day show starting at 11 a.m., while ESPN’s Holly Rowe will report from LSU throughout the day.