Updated: Mar 3
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
With LSU's 2022 class now in the books, early enrollees already wearing purple & gold on campus, and Brian Kelly's new staff moving into high gear, LSU Odyssey officially begin our 2023 coverage.
Though you can find an abundance of our past 2023 articles on players such as Rueben Owens II, the Tigers' first 2023 commit Omarion Miller and Tackett Curtis available here, or two in depth interviews & profiles with highly coveted Nimitz High safety Cory Huff Jr, we are ready to dive headfirst into this cycle's versatile talents.
While much was made of 2022's historic Louisiana 5 stars (Walker Howard, Quency Wiggins, Harold Perkins and Will Campbell) as well as the rare offensive line depth, 2023 may be just as deep...but at other positions LSU are working to bolster.....
It could work out perfectly....
2021 fulfilled LSU's needs at wide receiver and safety by a country mile, plus 2 of the cycle's top 10 running backs & some nice defensive line pieces....
2022 supplied the Tigers with an offensive line for the future, the highest industry-rated QB to ever come out of Louisiana, kept our D-Line solid by way of Tygee & Quency, and added a pair of desperately needed powerhouses at linebacker....
Following LSU's transfer portal pursuit & signing of key additions within the secondary and at OL, most holding extended eligibility, the stage is set for 2023 to become a monumental class for wide receiver, defensive line, cornerback and safety.
After 2022, LSU will lose Kayshon Boutte & Jaray Jenkins possibly among others at wide receiver, then defensive ends Ali Gaye, Soni Fonua and B.J Ojulari all either graduate or geaux pro; There is also a continuing need for further depth at corner, regardless of the recent transfers of Brooks Jr, Garner & Bernard-Converse; LSU will need a new talisman at safety, too.....Jay Ward and senior graduate transfer Joe Foucha will be out of eligibility, while Major Burns could also leave early;
These are priority positions for LSU, considering the 2022 haul at OL and the number of RBs on roster still carrying multiple years of eligibility (Kiner, Goodwin, Cain, Bradford, Williams, even Emery), Kelly's staff can focus on WR, DL and the secondary with renewed intensity.
At the same time, linebacker and running back are still non-essential priorities; Frank Wilson & Brian Polian's recruiting staff need to grab a class pinnacle at running back and as many high octane linebackers as they can find, understanding the facts of life in 2022 college football: players can always leave....
So, regardless of position, I am welcoming you to an introduction of LSU's top pursuits of 2023, listing our top 20 most necessary targets (not listed in any order, pay attention to the writing for ranking) backed with a massive itinerary of possibilities among the cycle's top athletes.
OMARION MILLER (North Caddo, LA) WR
Omarion is LSU's first commitment of 2023, a stellar, strong, intelligent and competitive young receiver, starting at both North Caddo and for the Bootleggers 7 v 7 team.
Miller's LSU offer stemmed from a ruthless, towering, animalistic, next level catch witnessed directly by former Tigers WRs Coach Mickey Joseph and Head Coach Ed Orgeron, both understanding the kind of special aerial abilities that just melted their brains.
Making sure Omarion would become the team's first 2023 commit, Mickey Joseph's strong offer & camp invitation followed a stellar sophomore season (807 Yards, 8 TDs)......but "O" was nowhere near finished:
2021 ushered the rapid rise of the North Caddo wide out's skill set, as Miller exploded for 20 touchdown catches, 76 catches and 1,502, featuring 6 performances of 100+ yards (5 of which garnered 150+ yards or more), 7 appearances catching 7+ passes, 6 games scoring multiple touchdowns, and "O" never failed to reach the end zone across the entire campaign's 12 games.
Miller is a stout receiving prospect, perfect for LSU's wide receiving-focused class;
Luckily for LSU, he's also a fully committed Tiger very early in his process. And unless sinister circumstances unfold, this is a firm allegiance....one I can't envision ending.
2023 TOP 20 TARGETS (PART I)
SHELTON SAMPSON JR (Catholic, LA) WR
Rated as the 34th overall player from the 2023 class by Geaux247, Shelton Sampson Jr is an all around generational athlete at Catholic High, leading the school to a glorious run of consecutive state titles and finishing runner-ups in 2019.
Throughout these past three years in Baton Rouge, there's been two constants for Catholic High School:
Current Tiger Emery Jones destroying competition at offensive tackle and Sampson Jr testifying out wide.
Garnering offers from Alabama, A&M, Georgia, Florida and Miami among many others, it's no wonder Catholic's lengthy, bruising (yet pacey) 5 star has no shortage of suitors.
Right now, it appears LSU and Alabama will be in yet another battle for a superstar Louisiana wide out, in a long pattern of recent defections stretching from WRs like Aaron Anderson, Shazz Preston, Kendrick Law, Danny Lewis, and Heisman winner Devonta Smith.....
Will Shelton Sampson Jr break that awful curse, much like Brian Thomas Jr and Kayshon Boutte were able to?
I believe LSU are in pole position, actually having an establishment with the young man and not just a fabled, forced "relationship" based on local expectations for Sampson Jr to dawn purple & gold at the collegiate level.....still, this one will geaux down to the wire.
(St. John Bosco, CA) DE/TE
The younger brother of current Clemson starting QB DJ Uiagalelei, Matayo is named the #20 overall talent of the 2023 class & 2nd in his position, according to 247 Sports, collecting 3 sacks last year (Maxpreps.com), but I don't feel these stats are complete.
Able to lineup as an edge rusher or at tight end, Matayo is an extremely gifted physical prodigy who's versatile, calculating, athletically robust profile turns heads in every scouting room across America.
Much like other recent top 5 DE prospects, Matayo is valued for his athleticism and future potential more than anything else, and it's hard to argue against that logic.
Young Matayo is also very creative off the field:
Uiagalelei is into making music off the field, with his beats featured in such songs as Trill Vont's "Long Road".
Will LSU have a chance for Matayo Uiagalelei?
Right now, I don't think so.....Matayo was recruited by Bill Busch back in 2019-2020, just before Busch's firing from the Tigers at the conclusion of 2020's pandemic-ravaged season. Since Busch's departure, only LSU's support staffers have continued to keep tabs....though these are still early days in the Brian Kelly era and his recruitment could definitely turn purple & gold thanks to Jamar Cain's arrival at LSU....
I'll follow this to the wire...and at the end of it all, I'll make sure he gives LSU a good look.
DAVID "DJ" HICKS (Allen, TX) DT
Positioned within nearly every recruiting service's top 5 overall talents of 2023, David "DJ" Hicks brought aggression, overwhelming speed and brutal techniques along Allen High's defensive front, piling up a ridiculous 88 tackles, clearly showing off his athletic prowess when making rare plays (for a defensive tackle) appear routine;
But just like any top rated defensive lineman, he also deleted his opponents deep in their own backfield, causing repeated chaos, breaking up plays into catastrophic dysfunction, and burying ball-carriers or quarterbacks by way of 22 tackles for loss and 13 sacks in 2021 (following his 4 sacks and 9 TFLs from 2020).
Though he was close to Coach Ed Orgeron during his early recruitment, DJ is starting to come around to LSU's new regime change, particularly LSU's defensive line switch with Jamar Cain taking over.
Hicks once said LSU "felt like home" to former 247 analyst Billy Embody.....how does the Texan feel about Brian Kelly's Tigers on the cusp of 2022?
Many are starting to give Texas A&M and Oklahoma the edge over a variety of other blue bloods and recent powerhouses, but I'm wondering how much Jamar Cain's LSU move will factor into DJ's final decision if LSU are in a tight race at the end....hmmm.....
TREY HOLLY (Union Parish) RB
-2,633 Rushing Yards
-33 Rushing TDS
Rushing for his second straight 2,000 yard season at Union Parish, while eclipsing 1,500 yards & 21+ TDs for his third straight varsity campaign, 2023's #1 running back could finish his teenage years as one of the most productive running backs in Louisiana high school football history.
Now at 7,829 rushing yards heading into his senior season, Trey is just 875 yards away from passing LSU Legend Nick Brossette's all time Louisiana high school record, and in a year less than his elder (Brossette played varsity as an 8th grader).
In addition, Holly requires a mere 4 yards to pass LSU Hero Cecil Collins' legendary mark, and if Trey completes his 4th straight 1,000 yard season at Union Parish as a senior, he'll pass Tiger Legend Kenny Hilliard, Lake Arthur sensation Trey Hargrave and former Tiger Germaine Williams' career records in the process.
At the same time, his outrageous numbers meant something deeper than simple production or individual plaudits: every touch influenced victory....
Over the course of his career in Farmerville, Holly pushed Union Parish to the apex of the high school game, including a state title appearance and back to back semi-finals:
Falling 26-24 during the title game to Sterlington, LSU's ultimate 2023 running back target produced a heroic / versatile 24 carries, 182 yards on the ground, a rushing score, plus 83 receiving yards from just 2 catches and an extra receiving TD; In spite of his title game defeat, Holly still enjoyed a season that is nearly too good to be true.
Rushing for 235 yards in week 1 vs Many High's grade A defense, led by fellow 2023 star Tackett Curtis, Holly continued a steam-breathing campaign wire to wire, recording 100 yard performances in every contest as a junior, headlined by 4 appearances over 200 yards & an insane 380 yard explosion vs Carroll.
If you want to know how good Trey is.....and where his game could potentially be in 5 years, just read this one paragraph:
Holly posted 4 career 300+ yard outings, only fumbled 6 times total from 923 career carries, scored 3+ TDs in 17 apps, and his last game rushing under 100 yards arrived on November 22nd 2019 vs Caldwell Parish (a playoff game where, despite his 62 rushing yards, Holly still contributed 3 rushing TDs for the victory).
A transcendental high school running back, LSU's Frank Wilson is already in firm contact with the young man, culminating in a visit this weekend at LSU.
Trey Holly is a must for LSU....you never want to miss on a player of his character, background or caliber; Frank Wilson, Brian Polian & Brian Kelly simply cannot allow such a thoroughbred to leave the state without giving everything of themselves on the trail to keep him home.....and that mission continues in earnest this weekend....
RUEBEN OWENS II
(El Campo, TX) RB
-2,989 Rushing Yards
-46 Rushing TDs
-12.1 Yards Per Carry
Most Tiger fans will be pulling for Trey Holly's signature as the must-sign running back of the class, although Rueben Owens, who's 2021 interview with LSU Odyssey may have influenced his Texas decommitment, is a sure-fire phenom in the making, himself.
At 4,500 career rushing yards for El Campo and 388 carries resulting in 68 rushing TDs, Owens' overall numbers are almost as gaudy as Trey Holly's history-breaking madness.
Still, Rueben's junior season became a masterclass, issuing a ridiculous 2,989 yards on the ground, 248 carries, 46 rushing scores, all at a 12.1 yards per touch average....oh yeah, he also added 3 additional touchdowns, one as a passer and another pair at receiver.
Rueben is set up for a scary senior season; even if he cannot eclipse his junior numbers, the young man influences the outcome of games.
Kevin Faulk recruited Owens heavily, which seemed to gain some positive momentum but nothing serious. Then, any traction remained frozen due to LSU's coaching and personnel transition / exodus, plus the ousting of Faulk.
We'll know pretty quickly here if Owens is a high priority Tiger target, and I'm thinking, with Trey Holly visiting the school this weekend, Owens visiting last summer, while both are clearly alpha backs who aren't looking to share glory, Wilson is making Holly the #1 back of the two........
COLE DELLINGER (Clarkston, MI) OL
The younger brother of Garrett Dellinger, LSU's 2021 All-SEC Freshman, Cole sports a lot of the same promise, innate aggression, and physical grace as his brother, continuing his spot high on LSU's radar through two different OL coaches.
Also playing basketball at Clarkston, Cole showed off his nice footwork this winter, making OL Coach Brad Davis double down on his prior re-offer.
No, he's not a legacy offer, he's fit to play at a high level....an SEC level just like his brother, and that fact is born to fruition through Brad Davis' evaluation matching James Cregg's from 2020.
You can't find two offensive line coaches more different from each other.....it didn't matter, Cole fit the bill for both Cregg & Davis.
Cole will visit LSU this weekend, getting a chance to hang out alongside his older brother at the scene of what appears to be his future campus.
After 2022's loaded offensive line class, the Tigers would be "the rich getting richer" if LSU's staff sign 2023 targets such as Cole Dellinger.
Cole is good enough to swat away his brother's name....
Naming Garrett as his brother wasn't necessary to write within this profile, however it's worth noting Garrett's example of aggressive success or his drive to leave home in Michigan, travel all the way down South to Baton Rouge, and compete his ass off through adversity (or out of position), even playing with a torn meniscus as he was awarded a freshman All-SEC spot.......
Just remember: Cole can match, maybe even top his older bro....
PART II WILL ARRIVE VERRRRRRY SOON!!!
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2022 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
SHOUTOUTS: Barbi! Whitney! Michael for being brave!