The westward expansion of LSU’s recruiting class hit a brick wall in Westwood on Wednesday.
Safeties Priest Willis of Tempe (Ariz.) Marcos De Niza and Tahaan Goodman of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., both announced commitments to UCLA, choosing the Bruins over LSU.
The two nationally ranked prospects and close friends were long expected to choose the same school. That appeared even more likely last weekend after Goodman failed to get his paperwork for an official visit to LSU and visited UCLA with Willis instead.
Willis (6-foot-2, 199 pounds) has five stars from Scout and is ranked as high as No. 41 on the Scout 300, while Goodman tops out at No. 46 on the 24/7 Sports Top 247.
LSU is expected to continue to press Willis to change over to the Tigers, a program his parents supposedly favor, between now and the Feb. 6 start of the national signing period. Defensive backs coach Corey Raymond has been scheduled to make an in-home visit on Monday.
LSU still has 26 commitments for its Class of 2013 (plus early signee Logan Stokes, a junior college tight end), which is ranked between No. 4 and No. 8 by the four major recruiting services.
Bower, Jackson to visit
With Willis and Goodman’s decisions behind LSU, the Tigers’ immediate recruiting efforts will turn to trying to land a pair of prominent four-star recruits making official visits this weekend.
Defensive end Tashawn Bower (6-5, 241) of Somerville (N.J.) Immaculata, an Auburn commitment, and uncommitted wide receiver Eddie Jackson (6-1, 178) of Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson are scheduled to travel to Baton Rouge.
Jackson went to Alabama last weekend and declared the Crimson Tide his new favorite, but LSU is expected to have a strong shot at landing him if he follows through on his visit. Jackson is ranked No. 157 on the 24/7 Sports Top 247.
Meanwhile, LSU will be monitoring the official visit of Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s consensus No. 1 prospect, to Ole Miss. Nkemdiche (6-5, 265), who is leaning toward Ole Miss over LSU and Florida, is scheduled to make an official visit to Baton Rouge next weekend.
However, he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday that his LSU visit isn’t definite at this point, fueling speculation that Ole Miss could convince him to close out his recruitment this weekend.
“I’m still in the process of thinking if I’m going to take the official visit to LSU,” Nkemdiche told the AJC. “I just don’t know if I’m going to have the time. I’m not sure. I’ll let everybody know if I do.”
Nkemdiche is worth the effort on LSU’s end. He is just the fourth player to be a consensus No. 1 prospect in the last 11 years, joining Jadeveon Clowney, Vince Young and Ernie Sims.
Spears earns 4 stars
LSU’s latest commitment, Holy Cross wide receiver Kevin Spears (6-2, 191) has earned four stars from ESPN and Rivals. ESPN moved Spears into its latest version of its ESPN 300 at No. 297, giving the Tigers 15 total commitments on that list.