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LSU head coach Ed Orgeron reacts after LSU place kicker Jack Gonsoulin was successful in kicking the point after the touchdown in the second half against Notre Dame, Monday, January 1, 2018, in the Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. Notre Dame won 21-17.

It’s a busy week and a busy weekend for LSU – and it has nothing to do with the coaching staff shuffling.

The Tigers welcomed in eight of an expected nine new players this month, a large haul of 2018 signees who enrolled in class this week. And they’ll host at least four highly touted prospects on visits this weekend.

Badara Traore, the top-ranked junior college offensive lineman in this class who signed last month, has not yet arrived, but he’s expected to be here in the coming days, the school confirmed Thursday.

The arrival of the eight signees was expected as the university announced the group last month when they signed during the early signing period. The list includes two junior college players, guard Damien Lewis and defensive lineman Travez Moore, along with the Evangel duo of linebacker Micah Baskerville and D-tackle Davin Cotton, and Florida tight end Zach Sheffer, running back Tae Provens, receiver Terrace Marshall and Mississippi center Cole Smith. Cole Tracy, the Division II kicker transferring to LSU, is not arriving early, as the school initially announced.

The open-contact period begins Friday, when coaches can visit prospects off campus and host them for official visits. Coach Ed Orgeron heads out onto the road then before at least four prospects visit campus, all of them with potential to join a 2018 signing class that has three open spots remaining: Rummel receiver Jamarr Chase, Florida cornerback Patrick Surtain, Missouri athlete/defensive back Mario Goodrich and quarterback James Foster of Alabama.

The Tigers signed 21 players during the early signing period last month and received a commitment from Scotlandville Magnet safety Kelvin Joseph last week, giving the school 22 of a maximum 25 players in the 2018 class. The school is “tight” numbers wise, Orgeron said last month, potentially forcing them to turn away at least one of the prospects visiting this weekend.


A breakdown of the nine players who enrolled this week at LSU

OT Badara Traore

Hometown (School): Hyde Park, Massachusetts (ASACollege in New York)

Height, weight: 6-6, 310

National position rank: 1st*

Where he fits: Traore is someone the staff expects to play immediately on the offensive line, a potential replacement for departing tackles KJ Malone (graduation) and Toby Weathersby (NFL draft). Orgeron called Traore the biggest get of the 2018 early signing period, a player who can make an immediate impact on the line.

*ranked among junior college players

WR Terrace Marshall

Hometown (School): Bossier City (Parkway)

Height, weight: 6-4, 202

National position rank: 1st

Where he fits: Marshall could very well start immediately for LSU in 2018, something Orgeron revealed last month. The rangy, speedy wideout gives the Tigers an instant impact at an inexperienced position. Of the nine receivers on scholarship, just two have more than 10 career catches and five haven’t caught a single pass.

ILB Micah Baskerville

Hometown (School): Shreveport (Evangel)

Height, weight: 6-2, 215

National position rank: 13th

Where he fits: Baskerville joins an inside linebacker group that, all of the sudden, has solid depth and experience, too. It’s tough to see him playing immediately behind starter Devin White and talented 2017 signees Tyler Taylor and Jacob Phillips, who both saw significant snaps as freshman last season. And don’t forget about Patrick Queen.

DT Davin Cotton

Hometown (School): Shreveport (Evangel)

Height, weight: 6-4, 259

National position rank: 23rd

Where he fits: Cotton enters a loaded position group, excluding the four other interior line signees. In the spring, Cotton joins a group that includes presumed interior starters Breiden Fehoko (DE), Ed Alexander (NT) and Rashard Lawrence (DE), with backups in Neil Farrell, Glen Logan and talked-about NT Tyler Shelvin.

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DE Travez Moore

Hometown (School): Bastrop (Co-Lin CC in Mississippi)

Height, weight: 6-4, 250

National position rank: 1st*

Where he fits: Moore is seen as a hybrid player who can swing back and forth between LSU’s defensive end spot and the outside linebacker/edge rusher position of Buck. A junior college player, he’s experienced enough to step into a potential starting/rotational role with rising sophomore K’Lavon Chaisson in filling Arden Key’s cleats.

*ranked among junior college players

C Cole Smith

Hometown (School): Pontotoc, Mississippi (Pontotoc)

Height, weight: 6-4, 280

National position rank: 8th

Where he fits: Smith’s playing time increased greatly with the departure of center Will Clapp. Clapp, a fourth-year junior, announced Thursday that he was turning pro. Rising redshirt sophomore Lloyd Cushenberry sat behind Clapp, but because of depth problems, the dropoff is steep behind Cushenberry.

TE/HB Zach Sheffer

Hometown (School): Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida (Nease)

Height, weight: 6-2, 229

National position rank: 26th

Where he fits: This is a crowded position group, but the Tigers did lose starting H-back JD Moore, potentially opening the door for Sheffer to see some time. He’s a versatile guy that coach Steve Ensminger said would be cross trained at both TE and HB. He’ll battle guys like Tory Carter and David Ducre at HB and be behind starting TE Foster Moreau.

RB Tae Provens

Hometown (School): Gurley, Alabama (MadisonCounty)

Height, weight: 6-2, 194

National position rank: 57th*

Where he fits: Provens is seen as an ideal spread running back, not the burly, between-the-tackles runner that LSU is accustomed to, but more of the shifty, scat-back that excels in open space. There is playing time to be had for any running back, as the Tigers’ three returning tailbacks combine for zero starts and 61 career carries.

OG Damien Lewis

Hometown (School): Canton, Mississippi (Northwest Mississippi CC)

Height, weight: 6-3, 326

National position rank: 3rd*

*ranked among “athletes” not running backs

Where he fits: Lewis is seen somewhat as an immediate impact player if the Tigers need him. They might not, but he likely begins spring in a backup role at one of the guard spots, behind Garrett Brumfield and/or Ed Ingram. Brumfield is still weighing his options to leave early for the NFL draft, something that could impact Lewis’ playing time.

*ranked among junior college players

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.