LSU currently sits at No. 6 in the 247Sports SEC team recruiting rankings for the Class of 2014.
LSU secured a commitment from Okla. DE Deondre Clark on Monday.
It would be a surprise if the Tigers did not finish much higher than that on national signing day and the root of the reasoning lies in what happened Monday evening.
Four-star defensive end Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City, Okla./Douglass) made an expected commitment to LSU, giving the Tigers commitment No. 11 in the 2014 cycle. Clark is the latest out-of-state standout to jump on board with a commit to the Bayou Bengals. That out-of-state prowess is the key to this going from a very good, typical LSU class to one of the best classes in history on paper. Everyone who follows college football recruiting knows that it’s a banner year in the state of Louisiana, where LSU annually signs north of 90 percent of the elite talent, so the Tigers are “set up” to have a great haul. Five prospects in the state hold a five star rating according to the recruiting industry-generated 247Composite (exclusively used to calculate the official 247Sports team ranking) and No. 6 is Speedy Noil (New Orleans, La./Edna Carr), who 247Sports ranks as the No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the 2014 class. But it’s the work LSU is doing out-of-state that’s impressive. In addition to Clark, the Tigers have the following four-star (247Composite) rated non-Louisiana prospects committed.
Devin Vorhees, S, Woodville (Miss.) Wilkinson County- Vorhees, who has been committed to LSU for nearly a year, is a four-star (0.9327) 247Composite-rated prospect and is the 247Composite-rated No. 9 safety in the 2014 class.
Chris Hardeman, CB, Alief (Texas) Taylor- The 5-foot-8, 180-pound Hardeman also has been committed for the past year to the Tigers. He is a four-star (0.9037) rated prospect by 247Composite, which also says he’s the No. 21 cornerback prospect in the 2014 class.
Consider the following non-Louisiana standouts, rated four-stars or higher by 247Composite, are currently predicted to LSU at a high rate.
Tony Brown, CB, Beaumont (Texas) Ozen- The No. 3 cornerback prospect in the 2014 class per 247Composite, Brown is also rated as a five-star (0.9943). He is currently predicted to LSU at 97 percent by 247Sports Crystal Ball. His sister signed a track scholarship with LSU last year.
Clifton Garrett, LB, Plainfield (Ill.) South- Garrett is a five-star prospect (0.9836) per 247Composite, which ranks him as the No. 2 outside linebacker in the 2014 class. Though he has visited a slew of schools this summer, he is a 100 percent prediction to LSU according to The Crystal Ball.
LSU is the favorite to land five-star RB Leonard Fournette.
Saeed Blacknall, WR, Englishtown (N.J.) Manalapan- The 6-foot-3, 210-pound pass catcher from Jersey is a four-star (0.9588) prospect per 247Composite, which ranks him as the No. 7 wide receiver prospect in the 2014 class. The Crystal Ball predicts him to LSU at 92 percent. Blacknall is quite a talent, but watch out for numbers at receiver here as the Tigers have talented prospects at his position closer to their campus that they are in on.
In-state, LSU is predicted to land the following prospects with five-star ratings according to 247Composite.
Malachi Dupre, WR, New Orleans (La.) John Curtis- Crystal Ball predicts the ultra-athlete Dupre to LSU at 100 percent. Dupre is the No. 28 overall prospect in 247Composite for 2014 (0.9860 numerical).
Should LSU also land Noil (Crystal Ball is 72 percent Tigers, but Texas A&M is trending) and top Alabama (Tide currently at 52 percent on Crystal Ball) for the nation’s top offensive tackle prospect Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La.), that’s possibly nine five stars (either 247Composite or 247Sports) in the 2014 class.
That’s quite a few, not to mention the loads of additional Top247 and highly-ranked 247Composite prospects the Tigers could end up with.
Alabama DC Kirby Smart is finding talent in Georgia, but he's not alone.
The bottom line in recruiting for any program in the SEC is to sign the majority of the top talent in your state each and every recruiting cycle. LSU has done that for the better part of the last decade and some change dating back to the Nick Saban era. Where programs land classes that are ranked No. 1 in the country, classes that can energize an already confident fanbase and classes that will create a loud recruiting buzz throughout the country (not just in the south), is by supplementing that talent with elite players from beyond the borders of the state.
The Tigers are well on their way in 2014.
Alabama and Michigan both could make a push for the top class this cycle. If the Tide swipes Robinson and then pulls the upset and lands Fournette, then those two prospects could make the difference. The Wolverines are low on numbers this cycle, but the quality of the class could potentially make them a factor
Speaking of out-of-state recruiting, it’s impressive what the SEC programs have done in the following areas or in some cases, entire states, this recruiting cycle.
Auburn- Atlanta. With former UGA assistant and Auburn alum Rodney Garner leading the charge, the Tigers are a factor for a number of top Atlanta prospects. Keep an eye on Top247 defensive end Dante Sawyer.
Arkansas- Missouri. Under Bret Bielema, the Hawgs are going to recruit in-state, hit the Midwest a bit and south Florida hard, but why not raid their northern neighbors now that it’s SEC territory. The Hawgs have four-star quarterback Rafe Peavey committed and are in great shape for four-star corner Raymond Wingo. Both have connections to Arkansas, granted, but Missouri can become a great place for the Hawgs to recruit.
Florida- North Carolina. Even though the Gators only have four-star quarterback Will Grier committed from the Tar Heel State and aren’t really the big leaders for any others at present, Florida is still formidable with the top talent in North Carolina and could sneak in for someone like four-star defensive end Lorenzo Featherston when all is said and done.
Georgia- South Florida. Getting five-star (247Composite) running back Sony Michel was quite a grab for the Bulldogs, who also evaluated and landed sleeper receiver Gilbert Johnson. North Carolina may be the out-of-state area we are talking about for UGA at the end of the cycle, though.
Kentucky- Ohio. Led by Vince Marrow, the Wildcats have eight Ohio prospects currently committed in their current top 10 class. Big Ten rosters of teams that have defeated SEC schools in bowl games have been built like this.
LSU- Texas. After not signing a single Texan in the last cycle, the Tigers have Paris in the fold, have a good shot at Brown and have been competitive for multiple high-end Lone Star State prospects.
Mississippi State- Atlanta. The Bulldogs have three solid commits from the Atlanta area, including 6-foot-6 dual-threat quarterback Elijah Staley and a pair of players from talent-rich Stephenson High.
Missouri- Tennessee. The Tigers identified three prospects in the Volunteer State (Nashville area) that they believe are SEC-level and swiped them.
Ole Miss- Georgia. The Rebels have landed one prospect out of Atlanta in linebacker Demarquis Gates, but have done most of their work in the rest of the state. Running back Akeem Judd and cornerback Quintavious Knight both hail from Georgia Military College and Ole Miss rolled into Colquitt County in south Georgia to land defensive tackle Jamiyus Pittman.
South Carolina- Atlanta. Four-star linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams and four-star cornerback Wesley Green are already in the fold. Allen-Williams is a “pied piper” type recruit for the Gamecocks that could pay off this class in the metro area.
Texas A&M- Arizona. The Aggies, moreso than perhaps any other SEC program, can reach into the lower southwest and be a formidable option. Top247 quarterback Kyle Allen committed to Texas A&M in what was somewhat of a surprise. Defensive end Qualen Cunningham, an Aggie legacy and another Phoenix-area standout, is expected to head to College Station, and Texas A&M is now battling Oklahoma for Allen’s teammate and Mike Evans clone Mark Andrews.
Tennessee- Ohio/Midwest. This should not come as a surprise as Vols coach Butch Jones and staff have excellent ties to the Buckeye State. Tennessee doesn’t have eight commits from Ohio like Kentucky does, but defensive end Joe Henderson and tight end Ethan Wolf is promising. The Vols also have rising tight end Daniel Helm out of Illinois.
Vanderbilt- Illinois. It’s an excellent year for talent in the Land of Lincoln and the Commodores already have a four-star running back from Chicago in Mikale Wilbon committed. Another big Illinois prize is Top247 linebacker Nyles Morgan, who currently favors Vanderbilt.
-Georgia could make a big push for Top247 linebacker Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) when he visits Athens on Wednesday. The Bulldogs have always had his attention, but they did not offer until after he de-committed from Florida. Should UGA not make a big move, then it’s the Gators and Alabama for the talented linebacker/pass rusher.
-Class of 2015 quarterback Jarrett Stidham (Stephenville, Texas) has a ton of upside and could push for five-star status once he has a few snaps of varsity football under his belt. What may not be common knowledge about the 6-foot-4 four-star prospect, though, is that he grew up in Kentucky and is a Wildcats fan. Could Mark Stoops and staff pull one of the best quarterback prospects in the country next cycle? Also, look out for Texas A&M here.
-Tennessee can continue to land top in-state talent this cycle if, as expected, it lands four-star defensive end Derek Barnett (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy). The Vols have gone from not having any predictions for the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder to a 67 percent to 33 percent advantage at press time. Should Tennessee land Barnett, it has a shot to land five of the top seven in-state prospects for the 2014 cycle according to 247Sports. The key for re-loading the Vols roster for new coach Butch Jones and staff is to take advantage of the upswing in talent in the Volunteer State for the 2014 and 2015 cycles. The tea leaves (or Crystal Ball in this case) says that it’s looking likely.
-Currently SEC programs have three of the top five pro-style quarterback prospects and three of the top five running back prospects (Fournette is likely SEC-bound, which will give the league four) according to 247Composite committed for the 2014 cycle.
-Six of the top eight coaches ranked nationally in the 247Sports recruiter rankings for the 2014 cycle are from SEC programs, including No. 1 Dameyune Craig (Auburn) and No. 2 Travaris Robinson (Florida). Ironically, Craig and Robinson both played football at Auburn. David Beaty (No. 4) and Clarence McKinney (No. 6) of Texas A&M, Kirby Smart (No. 5) of Alabama and Bryan McClendon (No. 8) of Georgia also are included.
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