At this time last year, LSU’s football staff had corralled 15 commitments for the 2012 recruiting class. The Tigers didn’t hit 20 commitments until early October.
Fast-forward to the blur of a recruiting season LSU’s coaches have enjoyed this time around.
LSU reached 19 pledges for 2013 on Independence Day, continuing a trend of recent years in which top programs receive commitments at an increasingly rapid pace.
So when coach Les Miles holds the second of his two high-school summer camps this weekend, he and his staff may have their eyes fixed less on the immediate future, and more on the distant future.
“Unless a couple of kids come out of nowhere and really blow them away, I think this is going to be more of a 2014 evaluation, because this staff is so far ahead,” TigerBait.com editor Mike Scarborough said.
Signing Day 2013 is Feb. 6. Southeastern Conference schools cannot sign more than 25 prospects in a given year.
The Tigers have rebounded from a sour ending to last year’s recruiting season, when five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel and Shreveport linebacker Torshiro Davis, the No. 2 prospect in the state, reneged on commitments at the 11th hour and ballyhooed Dutchtown safety Landon Collins chose Alabama.
LSU’s class of 19 commitments is ranked third nationally by Rivals.com, fifth by 247Sports, 11th by Scout.com and 12th by ESPN.
Bayou Bengals Insider publisher Derek Ponamsky said the acceleration of the recruiting process can be traced in part to technology. Prospects can locate depth charts, research academic programs or review NFL draft results with a few clicks of the mouse.
“This used to be what kids would learn when they came on campus for an official visit. All these things are at their fingertips online now,” Ponamsky said. “The majority of people who come into LSU on official visits are guys who have already committed and are coming in just to spend some time here.”
Ponamsky said many prospects commit earlier because they might simply be tired of the process.
College coaches have more ways to keep in touch than before, be it a text or a tweet. Also, as recruiting websites grow and expand, recruits have more emails to answer, more phone calls to take and more text messages to review.
“These guys can’t go five minutes without their phone ringing,” Ponamsky said.
Ponamsky said LSU could make some noise this weekend if the Tigers see a defensive back they like. Defensive back and defensive line are still two areas of need for the 2013 class.
“I’d pay very close attention to the defensive backs,” he said. “They’d like to get three more defensive backs in this class. I know they have some guys coming in (for the camp) who know they have a scholarship (offer) if they can perform well.”
Scarborough said LSU has done the best job he can remember of going outside the state to get talent.
The list of eight out-of-state commitments include quarterback Hayden Rettig from Los Angeles, offensive lineman Ethan Pocic from Illinois and quarterback Anthony Jennings from Marietta, Ga.
Scarborough said LSU is experiencing a “bounce” from the success it had during last year’s regular season and the story lines that developed along the way.
“Watching LSU recruiting right now, it’s like 15 years ago when a kid got an offer from Miami,” Scarborough said. “Wherever that kid was, the state school over there was worried because Miami had offered.”
If the Tigers can land top targets Tim Williams and Kendell Beckwith down the stretch, Scarborough said this could be a recruiting class to remember.
Williams is a defensive end for University High across LSU’s campus. Beckwith plays quarterback for East Feliciana but is being recruited as a linebacker.
“It’s No. 3 in the country right now by Rivals,” Scarborough said of the class. “I don’t see any reason why it’s not in that same realm on Signing Day, and maybe even pushing for the top spot.”