What We Learned: Recruiting

After a big week on the recruiting trail, TSD has all the latest news and notes as LSU looks for a big finish in the 2014 Class. With seven official visitors on campus this past weekend, new developments at running back and along the offensive line, there's plenty to discuss and you can get it all in this week's edition of What We Learned.

Ever since the contact period opened on Dec. 1, the recruiting news has been coming hot and heavy for LSU. The coaches spread all over the country throughout the last week, checking in on top prospects and selling the LSU program.

They brought that momentum back to Baton Rouge this past weekend for a huge gathering of official visitors. To recap all that happened in the last week and look forward to what's coming next, here's another edition of What We Learned:


LSU probably assembled its greatest mix of talent for official visits this past weekend, hosting seven total prospects, including five uncommitted five stars — Leonard Fournette, Tony Brown, Jamal Adams, Gerald Willis and Devante Noil. Committed recruits Edward Paris and Donnie Alexander rounded out the group.

For most of these prospects, especially the ones from Louisiana, the mission of this weekend wasn't to sell them on the program, as the coaches have done plenty of that over the last few years. The coaches mostly wanted to get these guys comfortable with each other with hopes of building another class similar to the one in 2011, which the players called "The Fam." LSU hit a home run in this aspect, combining a team effort with current players like Odell Beckham and Anthony Johnson really preaching how important it is for Louisiana prospects to represent LSU. After this weekend, there's no reason to think that Fournette, Noil or Willis will head anywhere other than LSU.

LSU's still in great shape with Tony Brown
Though he didn't commit like many of us expected, you can probably include Brown in that group with that Louisiana trio. All indications are that Brown will still pick LSU when it's all said and done. Though Brown was not joined by his parents for his official visit, he spent plenty of time with his sister, Bealoved, a member of the track team, and that's just one factor LSU has in its favor. It's been reported that Brown will take an unofficial visit this weekend to Texas A&M, but it would be surprising if the Aggies could pull him away at this point. Look for him to announce his decision at the Under-Armour game.

That all-star game on Jan. 2 could be a very big day for the Tigers, with Fournette, Noil, Willis and now Brown all expected to announce then. Adams also plans to announce his commitment then, and LSU certainly hopes it did enough this weekend to make sure they're the choice. The coaches really sold Adams on their need for a safety of his skill set, and that will be a big factor in his decision. Also consider that Adams spent the entire trip, from the time he left Dallas to the time he returned, with Paris, his close friend. That's a big connection for LSU to have in its favor, but it remains to be seen if it's enough to surpass Florida. But with the instability there, LSU seems to be trending in the right direction. We'll just have to see if the late push is enough.

Sione Palelei flipped his pledge to Oklahoma State

LSU lost a member of its 2014 recruiting class this weekend when Sione Palelei flipped his commitment to Oklahoma State during an official visit. Palelei, who has family and close friends on the Cowboys' team, told Scout's GoPokes.com that Oklahoma State "feels a lot like home."

The Tigers didn't waste any time once they learned of Palelei's decision. Recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson immediately dialed up Darrel Williams with hopes of getting him locked up. Though Tennessee made a strong push last week, I've been told the discussions with Williams and his family have gone extremely well, and the four-star prospect wants to play for LSU. Les Miles will meet with Williams and his family at some point this week, and based on what I've been told, you can expect good news to come out of that visit.


A major area of emphasis for LSU will continue to be the offensive line. Ever since the Tigers lost Cameron Robinson to Alabama, the coaches have been trying to find a third prospect to add to its committed duo of Garrett Brumfield and William Clapp. LSU first targeted Damien Mama and David Sharpe. Mama entertained the idea of visiting LSU but ultimately dropped them from his list. Sharpe has also kept LSU in the mix, but it appears only a matter of time until he commits to Florida.

LSU will make a strong push for OL Derrick Kelly
That's moved LSU on to its next pair of targets, Elijah Rodriguez and Derrick Kelly. Both players have received offers from the Tigers and the coaches will work to build up those relationships in the coming weeks.

Rodriguez, a Colorado commit, made an unofficial visit to LSU for the game against Texas A&M, and hosted Coach Miles for an in-home visit last week. Rodriguez remains open to the idea of giving LSU a hard look and he plans to take an official visit in January, likely the weekend of Jan. 17.

Kelly recently dropped his commitment from Kentucky as he's received loads of new attention over the last couple weeks. LSU was just one of many schools to come calling with new offers, so the Tigers have their competition for this under-the-radar lineman. Kelly's expected to host Miles for a visit this week, where he'll try to lock Kelly in for an official visit in January. Keep an eye on Florida State in Kelly's recruitment, as his hometown is only about a 20-minute drive from the Tallahassee campus.


I detailed a lot of the focus on the defensive line recruiting in this Where They Stand piece I posted last week. LSU will continue to spend a lot of time trying to add prospects to fill depth in the trenches. After a week of in-home visits, the targets have become clear and it's obvious that the staff is leaving no stones unturned along the defensive line.

Travonte Valentine (Jan. 17) and Kentavius Street (Jan. 24) have already locked in their official visits. The staff also met with prospects like Malik McDowell, Chad Thomas, Solomon Thomas and Andrew Williams with hopes of getting in the mix for those prospects as well. LSU will also meet with five-star DE Lorenzo Carter this week. With the aforementioned Gerald Willis and Garrald McDowell still very much in the picture, LSU's looking to make a strong finish along the defensive line.


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