LSU hasn’t heavily recruited the state of Tennessee during Les Miles’ tenure, but that seems to be changing. The Tigers are in on several elite 2015 and 2016 prospects from that state with hopes of reeling in some of that big-time talent.
Looking back though, the Tigers have signed just five players from Tennessee since 2005 — Josh Jasper, Alex Hurst, Dominique Allen, Justin Maclin and Frank Herron.
Hurst left the team midway through the 2012 season, Allen was dismissed after one year and Maclin hasn’t been much more than a reserve during his career. The jury’s still out on Herron, as he works for more playing time rotation as a redshirt-freshman, making Jasper the most accomplished Tennessean in recent LSU history.
But that fortune could turn should LSU land some of their Tennessee targets this time around.
It all starts with four-star defensive end Kyle Phillips. The nation’s No. 14 DE has been high on LSU’s board since early this year. Phillips took an eye-opening visit to Baton Rouge in May, then returned less than two months later during the Tigers’ Elite Camp in July. Getting him on campus twice in such a short span had LSU feeling very confident in its chances.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis, who recruits Tennessee for LSU, has made Phillips a big priority in the 2015 class. There were even some rumblings that LSU led for him after that trip in July. But some of that post-visit momentum has faded, as the Tigers find themselves in a crowded pack with other SEC rivals. Tennessee, Ole Miss, Alabama and Auburn all are in on Phillips, and his recruitment should be hotly contested moving forward.
He plans to take his full allotment of official visits before making a decision, likely after the season. The Tigers will need to lock down one of those officials to build back that momentum and get back near the top of Phillips’ recruitment.
Another Tennessee defensive end LSU has targeted in 2015 is Vols commit Dylan Jackson. LSU offered him this summer and has made a strong push for him in recent months. He’ll be a very tough flip for the Tigers though. He hails from Maryville, a town just outside of Knoxville and intends to enroll early with Tennessee. LSU will continue to give him the full-court press though with hopes of getting to campus at least once. But all indications at this point are that he sticks with the Vols.
One other 2015 prospect from Tennessee to remember is Ugo Amadi. The Ole Miss commit is close with Phillips, as he’s joined him on both of his trips to Baton Rouge. He too seems firm in his commitment, but he’s at least open to LSU. The Tigers are in pretty good shape in the secondary, so you wouldn’t expect LSU to press too hard for Amadi. But he has mentioned the possibility of taking an official visit to Baton Rouge, likely when Phillips does.
Four-star DE Kyle Phillips
LSU has already gotten a head start with some of Tennessee’s top 2016 prospects.
JoeJuan Williams (pictured at the top of the page) is the state’s highest rated recruit in that class, and LSU jumped on him in the spring. He’s close with fellow Nashville natives Phillips and Amadi, joining them on their visits to Baton Rouge. Williams’ trip in May pushed LSU near the top of his list, a position they’ve maintained since.
Williams is still open to all schools, though he’s consistently mentioned in-state schools Tennessee and Vanderbilt as leaders, with LSU right there. The Tigers will continue to recruit him heavily and are in a positive spot at this early stage.
LSU added a new Tennessee recruit to the board Tuesday night, extending an offer to four-star defensive end Emmit Gooden. A former Tennessee commit, Gooden has seen his recruitment grow since dropping that pledge in the spring. He has offers from schools like Ole Miss, Penn State, Mississippi State and now LSU, which he called a big offer.
"To get an offer from a school like LSU means a lot to me,” he said. “Growing up I can recall watching LSU playing on Saturdays."
It’s obviously still very early in his recruitment, but the Tigers’ have Gooden’s attention at this stage. He figures to be a top target moving forward.
In addition to these two 2016 prospects, LSU has also offered four-star OLB Daniel Bituli and three-star TE Gabe Angel.
LSU turns up the heat in Tennessee
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