Those surprising decisions have left LSU with needs to fill and only a month to do so. Who does LSU press now and which current targets are even more important than they were at the start of the New Year? TSD examines what the Tigers will do between now and National Signing Day.
Committed: Trey Quinn, Tony Upchurch, D.J. Chark
Primary Target: Malachi Dupre
There's no replacing a player with the skillset and ability of Speedy Noil. There just aren't many players like him in the country. Luckily for LSU, they're already relatively deep at wide receiver in the 2014 class. Though guys like Quinn, Upchurch and Chark don't have near the kind of talent in the open field that Noil does, they are solid prospects that Cam Cameron can install in his offense.
That being said, the Tigers could potentially be strapped for depth depending on the decisions of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. LSU may only return Travin Dural and Quantavius Leslie from this year's offense, and current freshmen John Diarse, Kevin Spears and Avery Peterson remain untested. The Tigers could certainly use someone that can step in immediately and contribute in 2014.
Dupre fits that mold, so LSU will make securing him one of its top priorities for the remainder of the cycle. The Tigers have felt like they're in great shape for quite some time, but after what happened Thursday, they can't afford to take anything for granted. Dupre plans to take all five of his official visits (or as many as he can fit in}, with Florida State, UCLA and Alabama serving as the biggest threats for the Tigers. He'll announce his final decision on NSD.
Committed: Davon Godchaux
Primary Target: Travonte Valentine
Not landing Gerald Willis has made DT one of the biggest needs for LSU in 2014. LSU was already thin at that position this past season, and they only appear to be getting thinner. Anthony Johnson has already announced his intentions to enter the NFL Draft, and Ego Ferguson may not be far behind him. Christian Lacouture and Quentin Thomas contributed but didn't have major roles while freshmen Greg Gilmore and Maquedius Bain redshirted.
LSU doesn't have a true defensive tackle committed in this class. Godchaux could end up at there, but he'll also be coming off a torn ACL and may not be ready to contribute as a freshman. That turns LSU's attention to Miami commit Travonte Valentine, who will take an official visit to Baton Rouge in a few weeks. Though Valentine has said he's firm in his pledge to the Hurricanes, there's a growing feeling that if any school is going to flip him it will be LSU. Valentine has always had a lot of interest in the Tigers, and he's developed a strong relationship with Corey Raymond. LSU will really push to get him in this class and that will start to heat up in the next couple weeks.
LSU has also started reaching out to Ole Miss commit Breeland Speaks. No official offer has been made yet, though Speaks did camp in Baton Rouge this summer and has said publicly that LSU was one of his favorite schools growing up. That being said, some feel it would be very difficult for LSU to flip him from the Rebels, but the coaches will reach out to him to gauge interest.
Outside of those two, Malik McDowell is another defensive lineman on LSU's radar that could play on the interior in college. He'll take an official visit to Baton Rouge on Jan. 24, though the Tigers are considered a long shot at this point.
Committed: Edward Paris
Primary Target: Adoree Jackson
LSU missed out on the nation's No. 1 CB, so they'll turn their attention to the nation's No. 3 CB. Adoree Jackson would be the ideal replacement for Tony Brown, but the five-star from California is a tough prospect to gauge. Jackson raved about his official visit to LSU in October, but since then the Tigers have remained even with his other suitors. He most recently said that he's getting the most attention from LSU, Florida and USC, with Florida State, Tennessee, UCLA and Oregon also in the mix.
Jackson still has one official visit remaining, and he's said that Oregon will probably receive it. LSU is the only school recruiting him specifically for defense, while most are seeking him as either a WR or DB. The Gators, a school that many consider the favorite, like him on offense. Track will also be important for the aspiring Olympian, and that's another big draw for both Florida and LSU, so that's definitely an angle the Tigers continue to work.
The next month will be vital in Jackson's recruitment, as he legitimately does not appear to have any favorites at this point. Expect the LSU coaches to make in-home visits with both Jackson and his parents, who live in East St. Louis, as they look to build a stronger relationship with him.
Aside from Jackson, there aren't many other CBs on LSU's board, so don't rule out the Tigers revisiting Redemptorist ATH Russell Gage. Though Gage projects as more of a safety, he has played some corner. LSU never extended him an offer after his strong showing this summer, but they did keep a close eye on him in the fall and he was considered the next guy up if a spot opened. Well now there looks to be some room available in LSU's class, so don't rule out the Tigers getting back in the mix with him.