LSU football goes coast-to-coast to get standout players its needs
Despite the fact that 2013 has been an above-average year for football talent in Louisiana, and that LSU has kept most of the top talent it wanted in state, LSU’s coaches have nonetheless wracked up plenty of frequent-flyer miles to assemble this year’s class.
Of LSU’s current haul — 27 commitments and one early junior college signee — 14 players are from out of state.
By comparison, only six of LSU’s 21 signees last year weren’t from Louisiana.
LSU literally has gone coast-to-coast to build the Class of 2013. From Hollywood, to land quarterback Hayden Rettig (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) of Los Angeles Cathedral, to the Everglades to pull in defensive tackle Maquedius Bain (6-5, 285) of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University and athlete prospect Rashard Robinson (6-2, 161) of Pompano Beach Blanche Ely.
LSU also reached up well into the Midwest and lassoed one of the most highly regarded prospects in the entire class: offensive tackle Ethan Pocic (6-6, 285) of Lemont, Ill.
“Obviously, they’ve got a national brand, and that’s very influential,” ESPN senior recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said. “You look at your needs, the roster, where you have to fill holes, and maybe you decide to branch out a bit.
“But the one thing in your corner if you’re LSU is you don’t have to sell who you are. In California, Washington, Ohio, they all know who you are. You have instant credibility in the eyes of high school coaches, parents and kids.”
That instant credibility may have played to LSU’s favor when it came to recruiting quarterbacks, a need position where the talented crop in Louisiana again fell short. So LSU went out and got not only Rettig at quarterback, but Anthony Jennings (6-2, 205) of Marrietta, Ga., as well.
Both quarterbacks enrolled early and will take part in spring practice starting next month.
“Louisiana hasn’t produced an elite quarterback since Ryan Perrilloux” in 2005, said 24/7 Sports recruiting analyst Shea Dixon. “They’ve done a lot of swinging and missing in California, but that’s OK when you do so well in Louisiana and Florida and Georgia. When they do hit it big, they get Rettig, who everyone wanted badly late.”
Mike Scarborough, publisher of Rivals.com website TigerBait.com, said the change in LSU’s quarterback recruiting effort has been perceptible.
“They realize that position has hurt them over the years,” Scarborough said. “You can say, ‘We’re recruiting nationally at quarterback,’ but now they really are doing it.”
As for the East Coast, LSU had success maintaining its pipeline into South Florida and pulling key players from the Carolinas like highly recruited defensive tackle Greg Gilmore (6-4, 285) of Hope Mills (N.C.) South View.
Scarborough said defensive coordinator John Chavis and defensive line coach Brick Haley have ramped up their recruiting efforts along the East Coast to help replace the players they knew LSU would lose on the defensive line. Six of the Tigers’ top nine defensive linemen from 2012, including all four starters in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, are gone.
“They knew what could happen as far as guys leaving early and that they needed a big group of defensive linemen,” Scarborough said. “They needed six and are looking to get more.”
With the exception of Rummel tight end Cethan Carter (6-4, 240), who committed to Nebraska a month ago but remains an object of LSU recruiting efforts, if the Tigers are to land one or two final commitments they are almost certain to come from out of state.
The top target is of course the nation’s top player — Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche (6-5, 265) — in town this weekend for an official visit with teammate David Kamara (5-10, 175), a cornerback.
Nkemdiche has long been considered a strong lean to Ole Miss, where his brother Denzel plays linebacker, but the fact LSU was able to get him in for his final official visit gives the Tigers hope heading toward Wednesday’s start of the national signing period.
Nkemdiche is scheduled to announce his choice at 6:35 a.m. CST Wednesday on ESPNU.
Also in for his official visit this weekend is committed Jewel Sumner safety Jeremy Cutrer (6-2, 180), though he is widely expected to eventually enroll in a junior college because of academic issues.
LSU also hasn’t given up on several big-time out-of-state prospects who have committed to other schools: Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos De Niza safety Priest Willis (6-2, 199), Somerville (N.J.) Immaculata defensive end Tashawn Bower (6-5, 241) and Miami Southridge athlete prospect Jamal Carter (6-1, 190). Willis is committed to UCLA, Carter to Miami and Bower (who visited LSU last week) to Auburn where he is visiting this weekend.
LSU’s class is ranked No. 4 by 24/7 Sports, No. 5 by Rivals and Scout and No. 6 by ESPN.