Catch up on the other editions of "Positions of Need" at the links below:
Part 1: Wide Receivers
Part 2: Defensive Ends
Part 3: Tight Ends
Today's edition will focus on the offensive tackles, probably LSU's biggest position of need in the Class of 2015.
Returning in 2015: Jonah Austin (Sr./Draft-Eligible), Jerald Hawkins (R-Jr./Draft-Eligible), Josh Boutte (Jr.), Jevonte Domond (R-So./Jr.), Ethan Pocic (Jr.)
Committed: Maea Teuhema
Top Remaining Targets: Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame commit), Matt Womack, Drew Richmond, Abdul Bello, William Sweet (UNC commit), George Brown
The LSU coaches haven't made it a secret that offensive tackle was one of, if not their biggest need in the Class of 2015. The Tigers didn't sign an OT out of high school on National Signing Day 2014, leaving a big hole in the depth chart for new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes.
The Tigers could lose both starting tackles from this year's team. La'El Collins will graduate after the season, and Jerald Hawkins will be draft eligible. Should Hawkins opt to test the professional waters, LSU will have several veteran options to replace both tackle spots, but those options will be a bit unproven.
Jonah Austin emerged as Collins' backup during the spring, but he's only appeared in seven games in three seasons. Ethan Pocic's currently listed as a center, but he's worked as both a tackle and guard in practices, cross-trained as a backup for all positions along the offensive line. Unless Pocic emerges as the Tigers' starting center, he could very well take over the reins at left tackle once Collins departs.
On the right side, Josh Boutte would be entering his third season in 2015 after seeing most of his time on special teams as a freshman. The Tigers' also signed JUCO OT Jevonte Domond, who was added with the expectation that he can replace Hawkins at right tackle if need be.
Domond's late addition was Grimes' first big move on the recruiting trail since taking over the job. Domond's expected to enroll later this summer after completing his remaining coursework at Glendale CC, and he'll be groomed in 2014 to start the following year.
But LSU will need a monster haul of high school prospects to restock the depth at offensive tackle. The Tigers currently have two offensive linemen committed in 2014, though one (Adrian Magee) will certainly be a guard on the next level. Maea Teuhema ranks as the nation's top guard for his class, though other services consider him a tackle. The LSU coaches are closely monitoring how Teuhema develops and matures with that 330-pound frame, then they'll make a determination once he arrives on where he'll play.
So Grimes continues to search for elite offensive tackles, casting a wide net and offering prospects from coast to coast. But the Tigers' biggest target is only a few hours north.
Jerry Tillery (Evangel) has been committed to Notre Dame for a year, but that hasn't stopped LSU from targeting one of Louisiana's top prospects for the 2015 class. Grimes has left a big impression on Tillery, and his area recruiter, Steve Ensminger, has also been heavily involved in making sure he knows where he ranks for the Tigers. That's all paid off as Tillery has made several trips to Baton Rouge in the last few months.
Tillery was on campus for Boys from the Boot earlier this year, then returned again for the Spring Game in April. He also made the trip down a few weeks ago for another visit to spend time with the coaching staff. Tillery remains committed to Notre Dame, which he called his dream school growing up, but LSU gains more and more optimism as time passes. LSU's made sure to sell the academic angle as well, which is of utmost importance to Tillery.
As an early enrollee, there are about six months remaining until Tillery must make a final decision, and as it stands right now, the Irish would likely be where he ends up. But LSU's made up a lot of ground and are squarely in the discussion to flip this four-star prospect.
Top in-state OT Jerry Tillery
The rest of LSU's tackle targets have primarily come from out of state.
Matt Womack (Hernando, Miss.) is the name most recently added to this list, landing the offer at camp earlier this month. Womack's an absolutely massive prospect that has really picked up steam lately on the recruiting trail. The 6-foot-7, 325-pound tackle lists four schools near the top of his list right now — LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and South Carolina — with all being even at this point. He plans to make another trip to Baton Rouge soon, so the Tigers will do their part to separate from his other suitors.
The other tackle that's visited recently is William Sweet, a North Carolina commit. Sweet made the trip to LSU for the Bayou Picnic last month, which left the LSU coaches optimistic about their chances. Sweet has maintained publicly that he's solid to the Tar Heels, but at the very least he's receptive to the Tigers. It's likely a long shot for now, but the Tigers feel they've built a solid foundation with Sweet and hope that pays off down the line.
One of the more intriguing prospects in the country is expected to visit next month. Abdul Bello, who moved to this country from Nigeria before the start of his junior year, plans to stop in Baton Rouge during a big college tour later this summer. Bello's still relatively new to football, but he has a ton of upside, and LSU's one of a number of schools hoping to cash in on that potential. Bello doesn't plan to narrow things down until he gets a closer look at these schools, so look for LSU to position itself with that visit.
A three-star lineman from Ohio also has the Tigers high on his list with a decision coming soon. George Brown, a cousin of former LSU RB Spencer Ware, has the Tigers in his final eight, and he'll announce a commitment on July 25. But Brown hasn't visited LSU yet, so the Tigers would have to get him on campus within the next couple weeks to have a real shot.
The summer and fall will be big in determining LSU's legitimate targets at offensive tackle. Prospects like Drew Richmond, Matthew Burrell and Zach Robertson have at least expressed interest in visiting LSU. The Tigers hope to get as many as they can on campus this summer, then bring in more for official visits during football season.
Coach Grimes will certainly add more names to his board as time goes on. He's made sure to see a lot of prospects during the past evaluation periods, and the Tigers will need to bring in several tackles this year to restock the cupboards. But Grimes has a reputation for aggressive recruiting, and the staff is optimistic that he'll come through with an elite haul in 2015.