15 Blue Chippers left on LSU Big Board

As National Signing Day draws near, LSU still remains in the mix with more than a dozen highly ranked prospects. With five- and four-star recruits still littering the Tiger Big Board, TSD takes a look at all the latest on the LSU recruiting front with less than a month left of the 2014 recruiting cycle.

The dead period ends at midnight Wednesday, making Thursday the beginning of a crazy final leg of the 2014 recruiting cycle. The LSU class currently sits at 18 commits, so the Tigers have seven spots to work with assuming they hold onto each player currently pledged to the class.

That will be a challenge in itself, but despite the letdown of the Under-Armour All-American Game, the Tigers are still poised for a strong finish to this class. LSU's still in the mix for four five-star prospects and a number of other promising four- and three-star recruits.

TSD will break down all the latest on the LSU recruiting front, including a look at some of the Tigers' primary remaining targets and some current commits to keep an eye on as the recruiting calendar winds down.


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WIDE RECEIVER

Malachi Dupre – No. 1 WR

We'll start this list with the nation's top receiver, who will take his official visit to LSU this coming weekend (Jan. 17). LSU has been the heavy favorite throughout Dupre's recruitment, and as we enter the final few weeks, there isn't any reason to think that's changed. Dupre will take official visits to Alabama (Jan. 20), Florida State (Jan. 24) and UCLA (Jan. 31) then announce during a ESPN-televised ceremony at his school on National Signing Day.

Though Dupre has ties to the West Coast and has developed a strong relationship with the Florida State coaches and Jameis Winston, that doesn't compare to his connections to LSU, and the home-state school should win out in the end. But LSU's learned its lesson and will not let off in its recruitment of this five-star. LSU will work until the very last minute to ensure Dupre signs with the Tigers.


LSU's entered the mix for Emanuel Porter
Emanuel Porter – No. 54 WR

Porter's a relatively new name on LSU's board, but the Tigers are hoping to make a strong press on this soft Texas commit. Porter pledged to the Longhorns shortly after receiving an offer from them this summer. But with the coaching change in Austin, Porter has started looking around, particularly because the assistant that recruited him, Darrell Wyatt, isn't likely to be retained by Charlie Strong. In fact, Texas still hasn't yet hired a WR coach, which is leading to a bit of a holdup in determining where Porter stands with the new regime.

If Porter does officially look elsewhere, keep an eye on TCU, whom he was committed to before Texas. But those close to Porter have said to watch out for LSU. Right now, the Tigers appear to be his top choice if he decides to head out of state, but playing close to home at TCU may be tough for him to pass up. LSU will continue to gauge where it stands starting later this week.

Other names to watch: LSU will receive an official visit from former Louisville commit George Rushing (No. 174 WR). He's close friends with LSU commit John Battle, who will also take his visit that weekend, and current Tigers Avery Peterson and Rashard Robinson. LSU hasn't offered him yet, but he's someone that they could jump on later. Melvin Holland (No. 127 WR) is another under-the-radar prospect that LSU has its eyes on. So far there's little to report on his recruitment in regards to LSU, but he could be someone that comes into play late in the cycle.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Derrick Kelly - #109 OT

LSU still has a major need along the offensive line, and right now Kelly is the No. 1 priority. The Tigers will host him on an official visit this coming weekend (Jan. 17), and after talking to one of his high school coaches, LSU is definitely in a solid position. Kelly, who was once committed to Kentucky, blew up after his senior season, and LSU was one of several top schools to jump on this three-star prospect. Alabama has entered the mix as well and are looking to make him their right tackle in this class. Florida State has also been involved, but the Seminoles do appear to be finished recruiting OL for 2014.


Derrick Kelly will visit LSU this weekend
Definitely keep an eye on Kelly for LSU though, as Les Miles took the lead and made a strong connection with Kelly and his family during an in-home visit in December. LSU will also use the new offensive line coach (whenever that hire's made) to continue building the momentum with Kelly. We should know after this weekend if LSU's done enough to secure its lead with this prospect.

Other names to watch: LSU has made a run at Ole Miss commit Roderick Taylor (No. 3 OG) but it's doubtful they'll be able to sway him from the Rebels. Taylor could take an official visit this weekend (Jan. 17), though that's still not guaranteed. The Tigers are also recruiting his teammate DT Breeland Speaks (more on him later). Also keep an eye on Bailey Granier (No. 99 OT), who will take an official visit to LSU on Jan. 31. The former Vanderbilt commit does not have an offer, but he is hoping to earn one in the next couple weeks. Colorado commit Elijah Rodriguez (No. 117 OT) was also someone that LSU targeted toward the end of the season. Rodriguez said this week he still has interest in the Tigers but has not spoken with them in a while. He could be someone LSU brings in on an official visit late in the cycle.

LINEBACKER

Kenny Young – No. 11 MLB

LSU still has a lot of work to do securing one of the state's top remaining uncommitted defensive prospects. Young is without a doubt the Tigers' No. 1 target at LB, and he is a priority despite some questions early in his recruitment about where he stood with the Tigers. That being said, Young does not currently intend to take an official visit to Baton Rouge because he made numerous unofficial visits to campus this fall. Young has said he wanted to use his official visits to schools he doesn't get to see as often, and he has trips scheduled to Texas A&M (Jan. 17), Arkansas (Jan. 24), and UCLA (Jan. 31).


LSU will work to keep Kenny Young in-state
Despite what some rumors have indicated, Young said after the U.S. Army All-American Bowl last week that he is not leaning toward leaving Louisiana for college, and that location is not a factor in his recruitment. He's more concerned with finding the right fit, and LSU will continue to try and convince him that the Tigers are the best fit. Look for these upcoming in-home visits to be crucial in LSU's recruitment of Young, and the Tigers will try to secure a midweek official before the end of the cycle.

Otaro Alaka – No. 38 OLB

Alaka is another prospect that emerged on LSU's radar after the coaching change in Austin. The three-star OLB opted to reexplore his options after Charlie Strong was hired, and he set official visits to Texas A&M (Jan. 17) and LSU (Jan. 24). This coming weekend will be huge in his recruitment, as the Aggies have grown very confident in their chances of flipping him from the in-state rival.

But Texas isn't giving up either. According to Scout's Jason Higdon, retaining Alaka is a major priority for the new Texas staff, and that may be enough to keep him in burnt orange. That being said, LSU will continue to stay in the picture with hopes of making a strong impression during his official visit.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Travonte Valentine – No. 13 DT

LSU has high hopes for Valentine's upcoming official visit on Jan. 24. The former Miami commit dropped his pledge to the Hurricanes during Al Golden's flirtation with Penn State, but even though Golden's sticking in Miami, Valentine is still looking at his other options. Sources both at LSU and close to Valentine were expecting that decommitment to happen and feel that the Tigers are the team to beat moving forward.

Valentine even said as much after he dropped his pledge to Miami, and the Tigers will look to land his commitment during that official visit. If it doesn't happen that weekend, look for something to happen on National Signing Day. He's expected to give Miami another official visit before the end of the cycle, but the signs continue to look positive for the Tigers.


The door isn't closed yet on Gerald Willis
Gerald Willis – No. 4 DE

Despite his nationally televised commitment to Florida, the door isn't closed for LSU on Edna Karr prospect Gerald Willis. The five-star DE didn't enroll early in Gainesville like he'd hoped and that gives LSU another month to make a final run. Sources have indicated that there still remain several people close to him that are working to convince him he should remain in the state. Academics will also definitely be something to keep an eye on moving forward and could play a factor in where he ultimately ends up. Nothing is guaranteed at this point, but there's definitely room for LSU to operate in terms of trying to flip Willis to the Tigers.

Breeland Speaks No. 24 DT

We referenced Speaks earlier in this piece, but LSU has definitely ramped up its efforts to flip the Ole Miss commit. That process will start this coming weekend (Jan. 17) as Speaks will take his official visit to Baton Rouge. He has said publicly that LSU was his dream school growing up, and landing an offer from them was definitely an honor. But there aren't many that like LSU's chances of flipping this four-star DT, with most feeling that Ole Miss is a lock to retain him.

LSU isn't going to back down though and will do its best to make a strong impression this weekend. If the trip does go well, LSU may have a little more reason for optimism, but that remains to be seen at this point.

Other names to watch: Former Texas commit Trey Lealaimatafao (No. 36 DT) recently landed an offer from LSU and plans to make an unofficial visit to Baton Rouge before Signing Day. He does have a sister that plays volleyball Southern, so that could be an appeal for LSU. He'll take his fifth and final official visit to Oregon this weekend (Jan. 17) and he's previously checked out UCLA, Ole Miss, Arizona State and Texas. The nation's top DE Lorenzo Carter will visit LSU this weekend, and it will be pivotal for LSU's chances. The Tigers are one of four remaining contenders, though Georgia has a significant lead at this point. But the gap isn't insurmountable if LSU blows away Carter on this visit. Malik McDowell (No. 7 DE) will take an official visit to LSU on Jan. 24, though most feel he's a lock to stay in the B1G Ten for college. LSU will try to convince him otherwise, and that official visit will be crucial for the Tigers' chances of making that happen.


LSU commit Davon Godchaux is "open to all options"
Keep an eye on the commits: Holding on to commits can be just as hard for these big programs as it is to reel them in. Davon Godchaux (No. 18 DE) made headlines late last week when he announced that he was "open to all options" heading into the final few weeks of his recruitment. Godchaux said he plans to take some official visits, though none had been scheduled as of last Friday. He plans to make a final decision on Signing Day. Deondre Clark (No. 19 DE) has been courted heavily by the home-state Oklahoma Sooners, and there are several people close to him that want him to stay in the state for college. Personal reasons may end up keeping him in Oklahoma, but LSU will continue to work to keep him in this class.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Adoree Jackson – No. 3 CB

LSU has just about wrapped up its recruitment of DBs, but Jackson definitely still ranks high on the board. Though he would probably be a five-star prospect at WR too, LSU is recruiting Jackson primarily as a DB, while most of his other top schools (Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, USC and UCLA) see him playing either side of the ball. The Gators seem to be the heaviest favorite to land his commitment, though there aren't many that can say with certainty where he'll end up.

LSU blew him away on an official visit in October, and the Tigers will try to get him back on campus before the end of the cycle for an unofficial visit. The upcoming in-home visits will also be crucial as the Tigers look to remain in contention, and LSU will look to continue pushing the track program, which has been a big factor so far in Jackson's recruitment. LSU still has their work cut out for them, and this should be a wild few weeks for Jackson and his suitors.

Other names to watch: Baton Rouge athlete Russell Gage has been on the outside looking in throughout most of his recruitment when it comes to LSU. That remains the case, but LSU will keep an eye on him as the cycle draws near. He could be a late take if there's room available.

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