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
Part 4: Offensive Tackles
The final edition will focus on safeties, a position LSU recruited very well in w014, but the Tigers need another strong class to set up the depth for the coming years.
Returning in 2015: Jalen Mills (Sr./Draft Eligible, suspended), Corey Thompson (Sr./Draft Eligible), Rickey Jefferson (Jr.), Jamal Adams (R-Fr./So.), John Battle (R-Fr./So.), Devin Voorhies (R-Fr./So.)
Committed: Kevin Henry
Top Remaining Targets: Deshawn Raymond, Roney Elam, Jamal Peters, Ronnie Harrison (UNC commit), Kenneth McGruder, Kahlil Haughton
LSU had some of its biggest success in the Class of 2014 at safety, landing the nation's best at the position, Jamal Adams, and two other highly regarded prospects in John Battle and Devin Voorhies. That trio joins a group that's relatively deep but not without its fair share of question marks as we look ahead to the coming season and 2015.
Before we even get in to how the roster will look a year from now, there's plenty left to discuss for this team in 2014. Jalen Mills is still suspended indefinitely until his legal situation is cleared, leaving his status for this season in doubt. He was considered a candidate to make the NFL jump after his junior season, and that may still be the case. It obviously didn't hinder Jeremy Hill's chances of getting to the pros.
But Mills' suspension leaves a hole in the depth chart, creating an opportunity for several of the younger prospects to have an impact. Ronald Martin will graduate after the 2014 season, and Corey Thompson, who missed all of spring practice, would also be eligible for the draft, but he'd need to make a major jump in his junior season for that to be a possibility. So that leaves the focus on Rickey Jefferson or even Adams to receive a serious boost in playing time in 2014.
Should one of those two emerge, that solidifies the position a bit more looking ahead to 2015, but it's still one the Tigers have recruited heavily.
LSU already has one commit in Kevin Henry, a projected strong safety on the next level that will spend a lot of time in the box. He's as solid as they come in his commitment, so the Tigers are working to add some other highly rated safeties to the class.
Deshawn Raymond became the top in-state prospect to emerge when LSU offered him at the Bayou Picnic last month. Scout ranks the East Jefferson standout as a four-star corner, but the Tigers are interested in him as a safety with solid coverage skills, and that versatility will certainly benefit him well in college. The younger brother of former LSU DB Derrick Raymond, Deshawn has long been considered a heavy lean to the Tigers, especially once they made their interest official with an offer.
But Raymond isn't rushing his decision. TCU and Mississippi State are the two other schools he's mentioned most consistently at the top of his list, and the Horned Frogs seem to be LSU's biggest competition in this recruitment. But Raymond already has a strong relationship with the LSU coaching staff, and has made numerous visits to campus over the last couple years. LSU expects that comfort to pay off in the long run, which would be another big in-state addition for the Tigers' 2015 class.
LSU also seems to be in solid shape for some out-of-state prospects as well.
Roney Elam (Newton, Texas) could have a decision made within the next month. LSU was the first school to offer Elam earlier this year before he became one of the hottest safeties in the country. Elam visited Baton Rouge for the Bayou Picnic last month, and he plans to return for camp next month.
He regularly mentions LSU as one of his top schools along with Texas and Texas A&M, and the Tigers seem to be the biggest threat to pull this four-star prospect from the Lone Star State. Elam has said he'll likely be ready to decide after that LSU visit in July, which will give the Tigers a tremendous opportunity to leave a big impression. The Aggies are still considered the favorite, but watch for the Tigers to make a big push before Elam shuts it down.
Four-star safety Jamal Peters
Jamal Peters (Bassfield, Miss.) was also in town for that Bayou Picnic, his second visit to LSU since the fall. The Tigers have recruited him heavily for the better part of the last year, and that's left a big impression on him as LSU holds steady in his lead group. Several SEC schools are still in the picture for Peters, who regularly mentions both Mississippi schools, Alabama, Florida and Florida State as some of his leaders.
But Peters doesn't seem very close to finalizing a decision. He's mentioned waiting until National Signing Day, which leaves plenty of time for all schools involved to solidify their standing. Peters plans to be in Baton Rouge again next month for the 7-on-7 tournament on LSU's campus, and an official visit in the fall seems likely.
In yesterday's Position of Need piece on offensive tackles, we mentioned a UNC commit LSU's trying to flip in William Sweet. Well, Ronnie Harrison (Tallahassee, Fla.) is another Tar Heel pledge the Tigers are targeting. Harrison made his first visit to Baton Rouge for the Spring Game, where he picked up an LSU offer. He'll return for camp next month, and the LSU coaches have been encouraged they have a real chance of pulling him from UNC. But the Tigers aren't the only ones. Alabama and Georgia have both offered him lately, and nearby Florida State remains heavily involved. Harrison's recruitment will likely come down to the wire, but LSU feels they've positioned themselves well at this point.
In addition to these big three targets, there are a handful of others on which to keep a close eye. Kenneth McGruder camped at LSU last summer, picked up an offer this spring and plans to return for camp again next month. Kahlil Haughton, another highly rated Texas safety, has said he want to check out Baton Rouge, but he hasn't yet been able to make that trip.
So with several big-time prospects still on the board for the Tigers, LSU has high hopes at the safety position in 2015. Should all go according to plan, LSU would have some serious talent assembled in that secondary.