Jeff Grimes added a major notch to his belt Thursday when LSU landed a commitment from four-star offensive tackle Chidi Valentine-Okeke.
The Tigers were scrambling late to add another offensive lineman to this class after missing on a handful of prospects through the cycle. LSU overcame what appeared to be a major deficit to beat schools like Alabama and Auburn for Valentine-Okeke's commitment, and he fills that need in a big way.
Valentine-Okeke's commitment came as a huge surprise. He'd all but eliminated LSU as recently as Monday, when he was originally planning to announce. Coincidentally, in-home visits that day with Alabama and Auburn convinced him to wait little while longer to decide. LSU capitalized on that extra time, sending Grimes for another in-person visit while Les Miles went up to Ohio to meet with his guardian.
"I just love everything about LSU," Valentine-Okeke said in an interview with Scout's Chad Simmons. "Coach Miles was very, very happy when I gave him the news. I am happy too, to have my decision."
This serves as Grimes' first big recruiting win with the Tigers. He came in behind the eight ball in 2014 and could only add junior college prospect Jevonte Domond to the class. In 2015, he landed commitments from George Brown and Matt Womack, but the latter ultimately flipped to Alabama. He also missed on other top targets like Jerry Tillery, William Sweet and Zach Robertson.
But the addition of Valentine-Okeke should make up for all of that. Few players in this class have his upside. Still very new to the game, he's only scratching the surface of his potential. Chad Simmons has an excellent scouting report, detailing what exactly LSU's getting in Valentine-Okeke.
The next big hurdle will be getting him to qualify academically. According to Simmons, Valentine-Okeke's transcripts in America have already been approved by the NCAA Eligibility Center. It's a matter of getting the same approval for his Nigerian transcripts and earning the necessary test scores. He took the test last week and will receive the score in February, so we'll be keeping a close eye on that to see where he'll stand.
Now that Valentine-Okeke's on board, LSU's need at offensive tackle isn't as pressing, but the Tigers won't be finished. LSU will continue to press for Toby Weathersby, who took an official visit last weekend. He's down to LSU and Arkansas, and the Tigers are still optimistic they earned the lead during his official. LSU also recently offered Mike Arnold, a Virginia Tech commit. Miles and Grimes were expected to visit him Thursday, where they would push for a visit this weekend. LSU will still probably recruit Arnold because of Valentine-Okeke's uncertain academic future, but Arnold won't be as big a priority as he might've been earlier this week.
One last thing on the impact of Valentine-Okeke's commitment — there's been hope that LSU could pair up this Nigerian-born player with another, Prince Tega Wanogho. Both took official visits to LSU on the same weekend, though it's our understanding that Auburn is the team to beat for Wanogho, and he will not attend the same school as Valentine-Okeke. Now we saw how quickly things can change with Valentine-Okeke's decision, but right now, it appears Wanogho is destined for the plains.
Premium members can continue the discussion on Valentine-Okeke's commitment by heading to the TSD Message Board at the link below.
Jeff Grimes wins big with Valentine-Okeke
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