by Lonn Phillips Sullivan
The signing period is finally over....after plenty of dramatics, rumors, madness, social media insanity, recruiting expert analysis and folly, here we are....LSU have their class figured out.
Finishing at #3 overall nationally, overtaking Georgia (only behind OSU & Bama) LSU defied their critics, the damaging news cycle, Title IX scandal and a poor championship defense on their way to a contradicting near picture perfect recruiting class.
There were some misses that dented LSU's sterling armor along the way, all thanks to the dysfunction of 2020 LSU: Raesjon Davis' decommitment after nearly a year as a Tiger was a tragedy; Jo Jo Earle's 11th flour Alabama flip on the cusp of NSD; Tristan Leigh opting for Clemson was a designed shocker, numbing the fanbase's love for the OT in the end as NBC non-disclosure agreements and other shenanigans unfolded.
Despite these hits, Coach Ed Orgeron & his staff nailed the 2021 class.
Though Coach O's Tigers focused on their national brand for a good portion of 2020 (pulling in some big time kids from all over the country, making the top 1-3 of many out of state 5 stars) the #1 goal for every Tigers' recruiting cycle: preserve and protect Louisiana's plentiful talent.
When LSU secured the signings of local luminaries Sage Ryan (#1 safety), Maason Smith (#1 DT), Chris Hilton Jr (#4 WR), Malik Nabers (#5 WR), Jack Bech (#9 WR), Matthew Langlois (#5 safety) and (the best DE in America) Saivion Jones, Orgeron did just that....all while staving off the clutches of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State as well as many others....topping it all off today by keeping unbelievably talented #2 WR Brian Thomas home ...a major sign of high octane 2019 intent for the entire college football world to take notice.
Remember how Rivals as well as Geaux247 jumped on the "Sage Ryan to Alabama" bandwagon, trying to make it happen at any cost? This site knew the truth because of what Orgeron's staff were capable of, meanwhile all we heard was how "LSU had failed"...
Then, Sage signed for LSU, exposing everyone's willingness to believe the Nostradamuses.
It was all Alabama, right?
And still, against all odds, Coach O pulled 5 star safety Sage Ryan to LSU.
When a host of experts believed Brian Thomas Jr was A&M or Bama fodder no matter what, Brian said "I'm geauxing to LSU": once again, these 2021 kids prove time & time again the pride they have in their home state.
Some believed Terrebonne's Maason Smith was out the door even...no way, Coach O fortified his relationship with the #1 DT in America, making sure the Tigers didn't miss out on a generational D-line talent from their own backyard.
This Tigers staff forced flips as well, outlasting Auburn's crisis for RB Armoni Goodwin, answering the Tristan Leigh debacle by flipping OT Kimo Makaneole from Florida State during the same weekend, solving the 11th hour loss of Jo Jo Earle by flipping two local Lafayette WR legends: Malik Nabers (on the same day Earle flipped) & Jack Bech.
Former Miss State commit Malik Nabers opted to stay home the second a strong push came from LSU, WRs Coach Mickey Joseph achieving the Early Signing Day shocker at the podium; once WR Jack Bech obtained an LSU offer from Joseph, he bailed on Vanderbilt for his dream school in an instant.
For every 2020 transfer / opt out or 2021 miss, Coach Orgeron demanded a reply:
When a hole was created by a big time vacancy, that gap had to be filled...sometimes immediately at 2020/2021 LSU's recruiting pace.
But the reason this class really stands out for me?
It has pretty much every box checked on the sheet, containing a pair of holes on the scholarship list for two transfers: another offensive lineman perhaps & a linebacker or perhaps two linebackers??
I can tell you one confirmed name coming into the program to join the Tigers, a name we've been digging into for the past week now Clemson transfer OLB Mike Jones Jr is all but lined up to be a Tiger. My sources confirmed Baker & the defensive staff took an interest in him, Baker from his time coaching against Jones Jr's Clemson Tigers (despite the fact pre-Baker Miami didn't even offer Jr). The Tigers are also pursuing / contacting other targets as outlined on our article linked above, however Jones Jr seems to have captured the Tigers' defensive staff.
So now you have one linebacker spot need all but met, a brilliant generational talent at quarterback, safety, defensive end, defensive tackle, running back and receiver (multiple in some positions)...you have three, possibly four linebackers who could all become exceptional Tigers (Greg Penn III reminds me of Jacob Phillips, JUCO destroyer Navonteque Strong could be 2021 LSU's London Fletcher, plus potential transfers)...backed by a never-ending carnival of DBU reps still "no fly zoning" their way down the pipeline via the Corey Raymond to the NFL Expressway, your only conclusion can be this class is stocked, locked and loaded, perfectly complimenting the needs already met by 2020, 2019 & 2022's classes.
If you say there's a lack of offensive linemen, I can point to the gallery of untested freshmen & sophomore O-linemen coming into this year, some of whom are among the highest ranked in the country (Kardell Thomas, Marcus Dumervil, Anthony Bradford) then you get to layers of depth full of guys who could turn into fantastic talents in their own right, Marlon Martinez, Thomas Perry or Charles Turner...these names, combined with the starting five for LSU's 2020 roster, more than fills up James Cregg's O-line to the brim.
It's just up to James Cregg to develop these guys.
If you feel Coach O's staff didn't sign enough cornerbacks for your liking (losing Nathanial Wiggins in a flip to Clemson), I can point to the talent LSU have on roster in 2021 & for 2022 already lined up to back Stingley & partner alongside Eli Ricks, coupled next to the versatile coverage talents of freshmen safeties Sage Ryan, Derrick Davis Jr & Matthew Langlois.
All in all....the 2021 class is done... LSU standing at #3 in the nation...possessing a stacked wide receiving unit, a defensive line full of retribution, two breathtaking running backs, three dominant safeties, a supernaturally gifted quarterback, a couple awesome out of state linebackers (Penn & Strong, now Jones Jr too)...
While I originally envisioned Raesjon Davis, Nathaniel Wiggins, Naquan Brown & Tristan Leigh among the names & faces of LSU's 2021 class, that's okay...because the Tigers who are on our roster...the kids who signed with LSU...every one of them wanted to be a Tiger 100%.
This is a group of committed kids ready for the task, a bond forged at Tiger Turnout last summer and carried through until this very day, nine young Tigers already so gung ho they're on campus as early enrollees (Nussmeier, Jackson, Davis Jr, Smith, Deion, Carter, Dellinger, Strong, Todd).
Suddenly, here comes the immortal question:
Can they play right now & contribute...maybe even start???
Yes...look what Kayshon Boutte pulled off last year, Terrace Marshall during 2019 & 2020, Derek Stingley Jr in 2019, Eli Ricks last season, B.J Ojulari grabbing 3 sacks in a single game as a freshman, Tyrann Mathieu was a dominant freshman in his #14 jersey...hell, Ty Davis-Price and John Emery combined for 10 TDs as freshmen backs during 2019 as well...
LSU has always had a rich tradition of young stunners taking the reigns and renaming the game: Baton Rouge is where freshmen can always succeed beyond the bounds of normalcy...changing the rules of engagement and flipping the script.
The Tigers' 2021 class isn't the exception to the rule or the rule itself...these kids have thrown down the gauntlet:
2021 was about getting back to protecting Louisiana while establishing the national brand out of state and for that, LSU succeeded in every category. Even in the misses, the staff's intensive, thankless labor was always beyond commendable in its degradation (once the criticism came roaring in).
Look at the hard work across the country:
Cregg grinding in Michigan for Dellinger repeatedly and then sealing the deal via Zoom; LBs GA Alec Osbourne nearly taking Raesjon from his hometown USC and committing to LSU for nearly a full year is madness for most Trojans fans...an absolute unthinkable blasphemy...yet Davis would've stayed a Tiger had Pelini stayed on as defensive coordinator...(in all actuality, yes, the Trojans were Davis' second choice);
LSU have absolutely owned Texas & Georgia for the fifth year running, a growing monopoly on the top tier talent in these key battleground states;
Then there was a big time surge in Tigers joining from the East Coast, Maryland's own Greg Penn III, Virginia-native Kheanu Koht was romantic with LSU before flipping his affections to Bama at the last second, Naquan Brown (also from Virginia) committed enthusiastically before being sadly processed by the Tigers, Pennsylvania-born Derrick Davis Jr enrolling early...
The Midwest was won too: big time signings from Garrett Dellinger & Corey Kiner, taking the biggest talents from Michigan, Ohio State & Cincy in one fell swoop...
But most of all....the kids from the Boot take the cake of the class, Orgeron dedicating his recruiting focus to keeping Louisiana clean from Saban, Dabo, Day or Not So Smart while kicking some ass, taking some names...and having plenty of fun along the way.
OVERALL GRADE FROM LSU ODYSSEY:
-Some key misses & needs to be filled...
Although in the face of overwhelming obstacles & unfavorable odds, Coach Ed Orgeron's staff pulled off an incredible feat this cycle. They should all feel proud and take just a little time off...oh wait, what is that...is that my phone...oh, yup, looks like more breaking news....
JOIN US FOR OUR
PLAYER BY PLAYER 2021 CLASS GUIDE COMING VERY SOON!
by Lonn Phillips Sullivan
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc LLC
SHOUTOUTS: WELCOME ALL TIGERS FROM THE 2021 CLASS!!! LET'S GEAUX