Seven Days, Seven Questions

Only seven days remain until National Signing Day. LSU still has a lot left to accomplish on the recruiting trail, and TSD answers seven questions that still remain for the Tigers down the final stretch.

1. How high can LSU finish in the team rankings?

The Tigers enter the final week of the 2014 recruiting cycle with the eighth ranked class in the country, barely trailing Miami for the seventh spot. But with six prospects still on the board with four-star rankings or higher, the Tigers could make a big jump up the leaderboard before it's all over. Now it's hard to predict exactly how the final rankings will pan out as every school's class will have a different look by Feb. 5.

But if LSU lands Travonte Valentine, Trey Lealaimatafao and Derrick Kelly — three prospects for which LSU feels it has the lead — that would push the Tigers to No. 6 as the rankings stand right now. Add in commitments from in-state stars Malachi Dupre and Kenny Young and LSU would start factoring in as one of the top two or three classes in the country. Then if the Tigers can pull off a surprise with recruits like Adoree Jackson, Lorenzo Carter or Emanuel Porter and LSU would have a solid claim to the No. 2 spot as Alabama's class seems too loaded to overtake.

A lot of different things can happen before it's all over, but LSU does seem poised to make a big jump up the team rankings. With a strong finish, the Tigers have a real shot at finishing with one of the top classes in the country.


2. Who might be the Signing Day surprise?

Will LSU get a surprise from Lorenzo Carter?
Almost every year it seems like LSU pulls off a miracle on the final day of the recruiting cycle. Last year it was the addition of Tashawn Bower, who had all but signed his NLI to Florida before changing his mind at the last second. So who are the candidates for this year's Signing Day surprise?

LSU's riding a lot of momentum with five-star DE Lorenzo Carter and the Tigers feel they've positioned themselves for a late steal. Georgia and Florida have had the edge on LSU throughout Carter's recruitment, but after a successful couple weeks, the Tigers have closed the gap. With a lot of uncertainty at Florida and new defensive coaches at Georgia, LSU's tried selling Carter on stability and an opportunity to get to the NFL in three years. It seems like Carter is at least giving LSU a hard look and he could be a surprising addition on the final day.

Keep an eye on Adoree Jackson as well. Tuesday night he released his four finalists and LSU made the cut with USC, Florida and UCLA. Like with Carter, LSU seems to be in third place here, but the Tigers aren't backing off. The coaches have made multiple trips to visit both him and his parents in recent weeks, and the track program is still a big plus for the Tigers. Again, it's a long shot but a surprise isn't outside the realm of possibilities.


3. Is LSU in store for more in-state losses?

Tiger fans can't stomach anymore top Louisiana prospects leaving the state. After the defections of guys like Cameron Robinson, Devante Noil and Gerald Willis, LSU needs a strong finish with its two remaining in-state stars to help stem the tide.

The Tigers still feel they're the leader for five-star WR Malachi Dupre. But the nation's No. 2 receiver has caused quite the sweat with the rave reviews he's given his other three official visits. Alabama, Florida State and Ole Miss have all done their best to impress Dupre with hopes of stealing him from the Tigers, and UCLA will get their chance this weekend. While most feel they're all looking up at LSU, the Tigers still need to do their best to lock him in.

Things still seem equally up in the air for Dupre's teammate, four-star LB Kenny Young. LSU does like where it left things after his official visit, which he wrapped up Tuesday. The Tigers do at least appear to be in the top two along with UCLA, but there aren't many that would say with confidence that LSU leads. But LSU does still have a lot of appeal for Young, and there isn't another program with which he's more comfortable and familiar. But LSU will have to sweat it out with both Young and Dupre until NSD.


4. How many defensive linemen will they get?

LSU leads for Travonte Valentine
There's no question the biggest remaining position of need is along the defensive line. With two soft commits, the Tigers don't have a single one they can say with absolute certainty will sign with them on NSD. Because of that, LSU made targeting DL prospects its primary focus down the stretch, and the Tigers are actually in position to turn their biggest question mark into an exclamation point.

First LSU has to shore up its two commits in Davon Godchaux and Deondre Clark. The Tigers feel Godchaux is a sure thing, especially after his official visit this past weekend. Clark on the other hand is still up in the air. LSU likes where it stands with him, and feel if the decision was solely his, he'd stick with the Tigers. But it still seems like if his mother gets what she wants, Clark will end up staying home in Oklahoma.

But LSU still has plenty of other targets. The Tigers are the definite leader for Travonte Valentine and feel they have the lead on Oregon for Trey Lealaimatafao as well. LSU even feels they've positioned themselves for a late surprise with five-star Lorenzo Carter. So to sum things up, LSU could finish with as many as five defensive linemen with a three-man class appearing like the absolute minimum.


5. Can LSU hold on to all 18 commits?

With one week left in the cycle, the Tigers have 18 prospects pledged to the 2014 class, with two already enrolled on campus. But while LSU looks to continue adding to its class, making sure they keep the recruits they already have is still a major focus down the stretch.

LSU has already received some good news in that aspect over the last couple weeks. Ole Miss made a strong run at both Trey Quinn and Jacory Washington, hoping to get them on campus for visits. Both prospects have both said since that they are done with recruiting and will sign with LSU. Same goes for Darrel Williams, who took an official visit to Tennessee on Jan. 24. After he returned he reaffirmed his pledge to LSU and said he'll be a Tiger. It's still somewhat up in the air for Davon Godchaux and Deondre Clark, but the Tigers are optimistic they'll hold on to both.

At this late stage, LSU has full confidence their current class will stay intact. Each commit also appears on pace to qualify academically, so LSU fans should look forward to receiving NLIs from everyone currently committed to the Tigers, with Clark the possible exception.


6. How crazy will Signing Day be?

Adoree Jackson's one of three five-star prospects to announce on NSD
NSD always brings its fair share of fireworks, but this year's edition should be even more eventful for LSU. The Tigers have six uncommitted targets with announcements scheduled for Feb. 5, and they'll also be keeping an eye on guys like Emanuel Porter (TCU commit) and Davon Godchaux to see where they send those NLIs. With such a busy day ahead, the LSU class will likely have a very different look after NSD.

It's been a while since LSU had a NSD as eventful as the one upcoming. The Tigers added one commitment on each of the last three NSDs (2013 – Tashawn Bower; 2012 – Kwon Alexander; 2011 – Jermauria Rasco). It's been four years since LSU landed multiple commits on the final day of the cycle. In 2010 the Tigers received commits from Ego Ferguson, Kadron Boone, Jarrett Fobbs and J.C. Copeland. But only two of those prospects were rated higher than three-stars, and that pales in comparison to what this year may have in store.

Five-star prospects Malachi Dupre, Lorenzo Carter and Adoree Jackson will announce their decisions on NSD. As will four-stars Kenny Young and Travonte Valentine. Don't forget about Trey Lealaimatafao, the No. 35 DT. He'll announce too and Feb. 5 could be a very big day for the future of LSU football.


7. Which school poses the biggest threat to LSU?

LSU still finds itself in heated recruiting battles for its top remaining targets. Whether it be TCU for Emanuel Porter, Oregon for Trey Lealaimatafao or Florida State for Derrick Kelly, LSU knows what they're up against with the players left on their board. The Tigers are also still fighting with schools like Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Texas A&M, but there's one surprising school in particular that could have a big effect on LSU's class.

The UCLA Bruins are finalists for both of LSU's top Louisiana targets. Malachi Dupre and Kenny Young (along with John Curtis teammate Mattrell McGraw) will take official visits to Los Angeles this coming weekend, an opportunity for UCLA to make a big splash in their recruitments. If UCLA somehow manages to pull one or even both, it would be another devastating blow to LSU with more elite in-state talent heading elsewhere. While that may not be the likely scenario, it is possible and the Tigers will need to keep a watchful eye on this fast-rising West Coast program in the final week.


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