These numbers aren't just coming out of thin air either. Based on rumblings we've gotten from both the players and LSU staff, these confidence levels should reflect how the Tigers feel at this point.
Below is the breakdown on LSU's top 15 targets.
**Last month's ratings are in italics
FA: First appearance
This article was posted before Hootie Jones' decision to commit Alabama.
S Laurence Jones – Ben: 5.5 (6.0), Hunter: 4.5 (4.5)
Hootie's recruitment is certainly going down to the wire. Though the four-star safety is set to announce his commitment Monday morning at 10 a.m., both Alabama and LSU are still working to solidify their standing into the final hours. LSU's expected to make one last push during an in-home visit tonight, but the rumblings have grown stronger in the last week that Alabama is the team to beat. Though sources indicated as recently as two weeks ago that LSU had a slight lead, the Tide have the momentum heading into decision day.
The Tigers didn't get the boost they'd hoped coming out of the official visit for the Texas A&M game, and that left Alabama feeling more confident about their position. Sources have said that it's hard to get a read off Hootie as he's naturally someone that keeps his emotions to himself, and he's gone particularly quiet in the couple weeks leading up to his decision. Even Hootie's mother told Scout's Mike Coppage as recently as last week that she wasn't sure what her son's final decision would be.
Even though most have felt Hootie's mother was the biggest factor in LSU's corner, she has also signed off on Alabama as the Tide have done a good job selling her on the program as well. It's still a tossup though at this point, as evidenced by Ben and I's confidence levels, and there's still time for things to change. But the feeling right now is that Alabama has more momentum heading into the final day than LSU.
LSU hosted Jamal Adams on an unofficial visit this past weekend for the Arkansas game, and the early indications are that the Tigers did exactly what they needed to do in order to get a foot in the door. The goal is to get Adams to return for his final official visit, possibly as early as this weekend when close friend and LSU commit Ed Paris is set to make his. Florida and Texas have always been considered the favorites, but with a lot of unrest at both programs, especially Florida, LSU is hoping to take advantage of the opening. After his visit, Adams seems open to the idea of playing at LSU, and the Tigers are absolutely going to put on the press, especially if Hootie does in fact go to Alabama. Right now, LSU is still about even with Adams' other suitors, including Ole Miss as well, but the Tigers are definitely trending in the right direction.
RB Leonard Fournette – Ben: 9.5 (8.5), Hunter: 9.5 (9.0)
WR Devante Noil – Ben: 9.5 (9.5), Hunter: 9.5 (9.5)
DL Gerald Willis – Ben: 9.5 (9.5), Hunter: 9.5 (9.5)
These three players are grouped together for a reason, as we've only heard positive things when it comes to LSU. Noil and Willis have been at 9.5 since we debuted this piece in July, and now both Ben and I feel comfortable enough to move Fournette to that rating as well. All three have been on LSU's campus multiple times this season, and have also taken other visits as well — Alabama and Texas for Fournette, Texas A&M for the two Karr prospects, and Willis also tripped to Florida. This trio is still set to make their decisions public at the Under-Armour game, and it will be good news for the Tigers. All three are also expected to be early enrollees as well.
RB Darrel Williams – Ben: 9.5 (FA), Hunter: 9.5 (FA)
Another prospect garnering a lot of confidence is Darrel Williams, who was originally offered this month as an athlete. Though that did rub Williams and his parents the wrong way at first, the coaches were able to clear that up during his unofficial visit for the Texas A&M game. The staff relayed to Williams that their intentions are to play him as a RB, and that moved the Tigers into the lead for Williams' pledge. He will still take his four other official visits to Arizona State, Tennessee, Missouri, Auburn (or possibly Florida), and he'll also be in Baton Rouge again the weekend before Signing Day, which is when he's set to announce. Barring any major surprises in the next two months, Williams is expected to select LSU once it's all said and done.
Garrett's is another decision that's no longer a question of "if," but rather "when." I spoke with a source this morning that relayed to me that LSU is clearly in front for Garrett's pledge. LSU did not disappoint Garrett and his parents during their official visit for the Texas A&M game, and it only solidified their standing in Garrett's recruitment. The source also said that Garrett's announcement could actually come before the U.S. Army All-American game as originally planned, and that he might actually pull the trigger in the next couple weeks. But regardless of when it comes, LSU is the definite favorite for the No. 1 MLB in the country.
TE Frank Iheanacho – Ben: 2.5 (FA), Hunter: 2.0 (FA)
LSU's definitely in the mix after Iheanacho's official visit for the Texas A&M game, but those same Aggies are definitely the favorite moving forward. Not getting an opportunity to show his parents what LSU had to offer won't help the Tigers as keeping him close to home is a big attraction for A&M. That being said, LSU did explain to him how he'd fit in their offense as a pass-catching TE, which cleared up his concerns in that department. LSU is still playing from behind though, and it will take some magic over the next couple months to cut into the Aggies' lead.
LSU has only solidified its lead for Tony Brown in the last month, and we remain high on the Tigers' chances as both Ben and I have had at least a 9.0 level for him since September. Since the season started, Brown has taken visits to Ohio State, Alabama and Texas, and LSU remained in a strong lead after each one. There's little reason to think they'll drop off, and it's still just a matter of when that commitment will come. The Tigers will try to get him on campus again soon for his official visit, and that will likely be the time he shuts down his process as time is running down before he's set to graduate early. The odds are very high that he'll be helping the track team compete for a national championship this spring.
CB Adoree Jackson – Ben: 4.5 (4.0), Hunter: 5.0 (3.5)
Jackson has mostly gone quiet since taking his official visit to Tennessee earlier this month, though based on what I've heard, the Tigers have the lead on the three schools to receive officials from him so far (Oklahoma and Florida State are the others). Florida seems to have fallen out of the mix, but with Muschamp staying on board, they might stay in contention depending on who he hires as an offensive coordinator to replace Brett Pease. As we've noted before, Jackson is not as tied to the West Coast as others from California in the past, and his parents would actually prefer he comes closer to their native home in East St. Louis. Jackson still wants to be a two-way player, but LSU has sold him on being a CB first with the option to test his ability on offense as well. If that's the situation he's going after, LSU seems to be the best fit for him right now.
WR Malachi Dupre – Ben: 8.5 (8.5), Hunter: 9.0 (9.0)
Dupre only has two weeks remaining in his high school career as the John Curtis Patriots qualified again for the State Championship game with a win against Evangel in the Division II semifinals on Friday. Once his season is finished, Dupre will begin taking his official visits, and then will ultimately decide on NSD. Because he still has visits to take, Ben and I aren't ready to push him up to a 9.5, but LSU is absolutely the team to beat for Dupre's signature, and it would have to take a lot for that to change.
Williams reemerged on the LSU radar earlier this month after he planned to take an official visit for the A&M game. That trip didn't happen though as the LSU staff encouraged him to reschedule that official for a later date so they could spend more time with him. For now, the interest is mutual between both sides, and the Tigers are definitely keeping consistent contact as they'd like to possibly bring him in to help ease the transition should Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham both head to the NFL. Right now, Ben and I are keeping expectations somewhat grounded until Williams makes that trip to LSU, but once that happens, I'd expect his confidence level to increase. Williams has never hidden how much he'd like to return home, and that could ultimately give them the edge over Auburn.
LB Kenny Young – Ben: 3.5 (3.5), Hunter: 3.0 (3.5)
Throughout the process, we've maintained that as Clifton Garrett's odds increase, Young's decrease. Though Garrett is all but a sure thing at this point, LSU is still waiting to press Young until they get Garrett in the boat. That could still work though, as Young won't start digging his teeth into the recruiting process until John Curtis' season is finished. Young has made multiple unofficial visits to LSU for games this fall, so the interest is definitely there, but the competition isn't backing down, and the Tigers will have to battle for Young once his recruitment really heats up.
DL Garrald McDowell – Ben: 6.5 (8.5), Hunter: 4.0 (8.0)
No other target on LSU's board has been quieter on the recruiting trail than McDowell. The Covington prospsect hasn't made any visits this fall, and hasn't been on LSU's campus since July. In the meantime, LSU has found some other out-of-state defensive linemen that it likes its chances with, namely Kentavius Street and Travonte Valentine. With those two expected to visit in late January, LSU isn't in a hurry to get McDowell on board. With Covington still in the playoffs, it's not likely that McDowell will turn his attention to recruiting for at least a couple more weeks, but expect a clearer idea of where things stand with him once December is finished.
DB Russell Gage – Ben: 2.5 (3.5), Hunter: 1.0 (2.5)
As LSU rises with out-of-state guys like Adoree Jackson and Jamal Adams, Gage's chances of sneaking into this class go down. Though Gage's performance in his senior season set him apart among some other in-state contenders, LSU still has its eyes on bigger prizes, and the Tigers would have to miss with some of those bigger names in order for Gage to land a spot. Crazier things have happened though, and every year there seems to be a subtraction or two from the November version of the class. If there's room late, the first call will go to Gage, but it looks less and less likely that spot is going to be open.