The 2014 recruiting cycle has really picked up pace in the last week. With the coaching staff now set and most of everyday spent evaluating film and contacting recruits, the LSU radar has picked up quite a few names in the last seven days.
LSU has extended offers to 10 players since Junior Day on Feb. 16 and has picked up two new commitments. In this week's Where They Stand piece, we break down the two commits and where LSU stands with all the players recently offered:
CB Edward Paris – Arlington, Texas – Mansfield Timberview HS
Fans will probably look back at Feb. 25 as one of the biggest days for LSU's 2014 recruiting class. That was the day Paris made public his commitment to LSU, a decision long expected but one that will likely have huge ramifications for the class. Paris' commitment was never a matter of "if" but more a question of "when," so when he made it official Monday, it led to most wondering "what happens next?"
For LSU, landing Paris was a huge splash into the state of Texas, where the talent runs deep. It marked the Tigers' second CB taken from that state, but definitely the biggest. LSU will hope the Paris announcement starts the dominos to fall, and with his relationship with five-star DB Tony Brown, it could lead to a major chain reaction.
Brown said after Paris' announcement that he was happy his close friend and 7-on-7 teammate followed his heart to LSU, but added a decision of his own wasn't coming in the near future. Brown's timeline, according to most, is to have a decision by the end of the summer. LSU was already the consensus favorite, and Paris' commitment adds even more proof to that likelihood.
With Paris now on board, LSU will turn its attention to the rest of Texas, and if LSU can pick out some elite talent, the staff will be set to haul in the nation's top class in 2014.
OLB Donnie Alexander – New Orleans, La. – Edna Karr Magnet School
Many LSU fans were surprised to learn Sunday morning that Alexander had become the fifth member of the 2014 class late Saturday night. Few realized he was on LSU's radar, but the LSU staff had apparently taken notice and wanted him on board. Alexander made a trip to campus Saturday, where Frank Wilson greeted him with an offer. Alexander opted to commit only hours later once he returned home.
Watching the tape, Alexander certainly has loads of potential playing in John Chavis' defense. At a shade over 200 pounds, he said he can run a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, and with that speed, he should be an interesting weapon at LB (or safety, where some feel he'll wind up).
Alexander also comes with the added benefit of playing with two of LSU's biggest in-state targets for 2014. Alexander said he's very close with both Gerald Willis and Devante Noil, and will make it his job to get both of them to join him at LSU. The Tigers already have to like where they stood with Noil and Willis, and Alexander's addition will only help matters there.
WR Keenen Brown – Houston, Texas – Alief Taylor HS
Brown, a four-star WR, picked up his offer after attending LSU's Junior Day two weeks ago. The teammate of LSU commit Chris Hardeman said later that LSU had moved into his top three with Oklahoma and Missouri. At 6-foot-4, he fits the mold of the tall WR LSU has targeted lately, and will likely be one of the Tigers' bigger out-of-state targets moving forward. LSU will also have Hardeman backing them up, as he will undoubtedly try to lure his teammate to LSU with him. Brown added that the possibility of playing in college with Hardeman was a potential selling point.
MLB Clifton Garrett – Plainfield, Ill. – Planfield South HS
With one of the more impressive highlight tapes out there, Garrett used his relationship with current Tiger Ethan Pocic to get an offer from LSU. Always interested in LSU, Garrett reached out to the LSU coaches to find out if the interest was mutual. It was, and LSU didn't wait long to extend that offer. Though he's been considered an Ohio State lean, Garrett raved about the possibility of playing in the SEC, and he was open in admitting LSU was near the top of his list. He didn't name any official leaders, but LSU, Ohio State, Ole Miss and Florida are considered the favorites at this point.
ATH Davion Hall – Texarkana, Texas – Liberty-Eylau HS
Hall, who committed to Baylor early in the recruiting process, has said he's open to other programs after picking up several offers since making that pledge. One of those being LSU, and Hall said he's definitely intrigued in what the Tigers have to offer. Though the contact from LSU is new, Hall mentioned them in a top four along with Baylor, Texas A&M and Alabama (though the Tide haven't offered yet). Don't be surprised if Hall lands somewhere other than Baylor, if he can find something better at a different program. If he does, look for LSU to be in the running.
DE Blake McClain – Jacksonville, Fla. – Sandalwood HS
This big Florida DE, who measures 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, included LSU in his top five after picking up an offer from the Tigers last week. Along with Florida, Florida State, Alabama and Auburn, LSU finds itself in a good early position for this big prospect. Florida State does appear to be the favorite at this point, but LSU will try to get him on campus this spring, with McClain hoping to make an early commitment. McClain has a visit scheduled to Florida State this spring, so don't be surprised if he ends his recruitment then, but LSU will certainly go after this versatile lineman.
OLB Sharieff Rhaheed – Fort Pierce, Fla. – Fort Pierce Central HS
LSU was active in Florida this last week, offering several prospects from the Sunshine State. Rhaheed was one, who picked up probably his biggest offer at this point in his recruitment. Holding offers from Louisville, Massachusetts, and South Florida, the Tigers added their name to his list. Interest has started picking up though, as Ole Miss also offered Rhaheed two days ago. Rhaheed said he doesn't have any leaders at this point, but mentioned LSU as a possible early favorite. Rhaheed plays LB for his high school, but could certainly bulk up and be a speedy rusher on the end.
DE Rashawn Shaw – Fort Pierce, Fla. – Fort Pierce Central HS
Shaw picked up an LSU offer on the same day as Rhaheed, his teammate at Fort Pierce Central. Like Rhaheed, Shaw didn't mention any favorites at this point in the process, but did call LSU one of his biggest offers to date. Shaw does hold one other SEC offer from South Carolina and said Florida was another school showing him intereSt Louisville also extended him an offer on Tuesday. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Shaw could stand to add weight but like Rhaheed, would be a speedy option rushing off the edge.
TE/OL Koda Martin – Manvel, Texas – Manvel HS
Martin made a pop-in visit to LSU last weekend while en route to Tuscaloosa for Alabama's Junior Day. LSU extended him an offer last week and he recently mentioned both LSU and Alabama in his top five along with Texas A&M, Baylor and Oklahoma. A very big TE prospect, it's been expected he could possibly add size and wind up on the offensive line. He'd be an athletic option at either position, though his lead recruiter, Thomas McGaughey, likes him as a TE. Martin has said he wants to make a decision before his senior season, and will make visits during spring practices to learn more about his suitors.
OLB Otaro Akala – Houston, Texas – Cypress Falls HS
Akala's the most recent prospect to pick up an offer from LSU as he added one on Monday. It was a big start to the week for Akala, as Colorado and Texas both extended him offers the same day as LSU. With almost 20 offers, Akala has received plenty of attention after his junior season. A speedy OLB, Akala would fit in well in Chavis' system. He said he hasn't spoken much with the LSU coaches but that he was definitely honored to get an offer from them. He didn't name any favorites, though the in-state schools, Texas and Texas A&M, are considered the early leaders.
DT Travonte Valentine – Palm Bay, Fla. – Bayside HS
Valentine dropped his commitment from Florida several weeks ago, and recently picked up an offer from LSU. Also a former Louisville commit, Valentine has certainly made the rounds in his recruitment. At almost 300 pounds, Valentine would be an imposing force on the interior defensive line. Expect LSU to stay interested in him, but some have said grades may be an issue down the road.
In other news…
---Justin Thornton, a DE from Mobile, Ala., said on Twitter that he plans to visit LSU this weekend. Thornton already holds an LSU offer and has picked up interest from several SEC schools. Florida appears to be his early leader, so expect LSU to have an uphill battle to climb to land Thornton.
---Jabrill Peppers, a CB out of New Jersey, said on Twitter that he'd like to visit LSU, but that the Tigers hadn't offered yet. His high school coach cleared that up and said LSU had indeed offered. Look for LSU to maintain contact with Peppers, and for this Northeast standout to delve deeper into LSU.
---Oklahoma DE Deondre Clark has added a pair of SEC offers to go along with the one he received from LSU during the summer. Ole Miss and Georgia have both joined the race. His coach told TSD's Austin Cooper he'd love to play in the SEC, so expect Clark to give his new SEC suitors a serious look.
---The recruitment of a pair of St. Augustine teammates not named Leonard Fournette has picked up in recent weeks. OL Joseph Paul and DB Jermaine Roberts have both added several elite offers, with Roberts picking one up from Alabama on Tuesday. Reports say though that Roberts' offer from Alabama was in true Nick Saban fashion, in which Roberts will still need to show more before that offer turns committable. Neither player holds an LSU offer at this point, but both are on their radar. Look for the staff to continue evaluating both through the spring and summer before offering.
Where They Stand: 2014
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