Where They Stand: Defensive Line

LSU isn't slowing down in its pursuit of elite defensive linemen. The coaches have been very active on the trail this week, meeting with some of their top targets, and TSD's Hunter Paniagua breaks down all the latest on the recruiting front for those players along the front four.

The defensive line is one area where a team can never have too much talent. After only taking Danielle Hunter in the Class of 2012, LSU is still playing catch-up trying to restock the shelves in the front four.

Though the Tigers took a large six-man class last season on the defensive line, LSU appears poised to make another big splash at that position in 2014.

The Tigers already have two defensive linemen committed with at least seven more targets high on the big board. Below I'll break down the landscape of LSU's recruiting along the defensive line and set the scene for what should be an exciting end to the 2014 cycle for this position.


As it is with every position, a high priority for the staff remains ensuring that the committed players stay committed. Along the defensive line, LSU is still fending off competition for both Davon Godchaux and Deondre Clark.

Godchaux hosted Ole Miss for an in-home visit Wednesday night, and the Rebs are expected to visit him again next week. Godchaux took an official visit to Oxford for the LSU game in October, and Ole Miss appears to be the strongest challenger to LSU. The Tigers will make their in-home visit with Godchaux on Thursday

Oklahoma's making a hard push for Deondre Clark
Godchaux is still sidelined while recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in his team's season opener. Godchaux is off crutches and said he can resume running in January or February. LSU is keeping true to its scholarship offer, and that was seen as the only thing that might stand in the way of him playing for the Tigers. With that not an issue, it still appears unlikely that he ventures out of the state for college.

Clark is still getting plenty of attention as well, particularly from the home-state Sooners. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made an in-home visit with Clark on Wednesday, and they're pressing him to stay close to home. That's still a big concern for Clark's mother, who hasn't made a trip to Baton Rouge since he committed in June.

Clark did take an official visit to Ole Miss earlier this season, but the Rebels did not remain a contender after that trip. So it would appear that Oklahoma will be LSU's stiffest competition when it comes to keeping Clark on board.


Edna Karr five-star Gerald Willis has always been LSU's primary target along the defensive line, and the years of recruiting him do appear to be paying off. Willis is expected to take his official visit to LSU this weekend, and the Tigers are considered the heavy favorite at this point. Florida remains the only school with a legitimate chance of pulling him from Louisiana, and he did take an official visit there this season. But the word out of Gainesville at the time was that even the Florida coaches didn't feel they had much hope of landing him.

Assuming he makes it to Baton Rouge after his team's semifinal game Friday night, this will be a great opportunity for the Tigers to shore up their position heading into his announcement at the Under-Armour All-American Game.


Garrald McDowell hasn't made much noise on the recruiting front this fall, only taking one unofficial visit to Ole Miss during the season. The Rebels do feel optimistic about where they stand with him, and there's been some reports of him possibly taking an official visit to Arkansas in the near future. He has a former Covington teammate in Otha Peters in Fayetteville, so the Hogs do have that in their favor.

Meanwhile there hasn't been much noise coming from the LSU camp with McDowell. Covington has a big semifinal game coming up Friday against Parkway, and whether his high school season ends this weekend or next, that's when his recruitment should start to pick up.

LSU's trending up for Kentavius Street.

LSU's search for defensive linemen isn't limited to the state of Louisiana. The coaches remain hot on the trail for several out-of-state prospects, and as the contact period continues, the coaches seem to be making positive impressions on many.

Defensive coordinator John Chavis had an in-home visit with Kentavius Street (Greenville, N.C.) on Tuesday, which Street called eye-opening. Street has been recruited hard by LSU since they offered, and the Tigers have always kept him intrigued. Chavis' in-home visit was the first opportunity LSU has had to talk to him in-person, and the early reports are positive.

"[It was] great, really had a chance to get to know [Chavis] better," Street said. "He's a very intelligent and wise guy. He really implemented that academics come first there and me and the family really love that about the program. That visit really opened my eyes to LSU. Coach Chavis is an excellent symbol of what LSU stands for."

Street maintains that North Carolina State and Ole Miss are his two favorites with LSU and Miami also in the mix. Street has an official visit to Baton Rouge scheduled for Jan. 24, which will be a great opportunity for the Tigers to make their pitch so close to NSD. Convincing his family that he'll be in good hands so far from home will be a big part of the sales pitch, and that started with Chavis' visit on Tuesday.

LSU remains hard after Travonte Valentine
The LSU coaches were also in this week to see DT Travonte Valentine, a Miami commit. Corey Raymond met with him Wednesday during his sweep through South Florida, and LSU is expected to receive an official visit from him in January. Though Valentine maintains that he's firm to the Hurricanes, LSU hopes that it can flip him late, especially if his academics become an issue for Miami. LSU's keeping that contact consistent as we head into the end of the cycle, and that relationship will be big when it comes down to crunch time.

LSU also remains in the mix for four-star DL Malik McDowell. He recently included the Tigers in his top seven schools along with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State and Alabama. He's expected to take an official visit to Tuscaloosa, and LSU will try to land an official from him in January. Reports are that McDowell is more open to leaving the Midwest than he was earlier in his recruitment, and LSU will try to capitalize on that.

The Tigers aren't leaving any stones unturned when it comes to the defensive line. The coaches have also made in-home visits this week with Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas) and Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga.). Though both are definitely longshots for LSU, that's not preventing the coaches from making a late push for an official visit.


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