Six NSD Surprises in Six Years for LSU

On each of the last six National Signing Days, LSU has landed an unexpected signature from a noteworthy defensive player. TSD publisher Ben Love looks back on the surprise gets and who the Tigers battled to pry them away.

Sometimes recruiting battles are good to the last drop, taking competing schools all the way to – and even well into – National Signing Day on a given year.

That's been the case for LSU at least once in each of the last six years on the first Wednesday in February. And, appropriately considering the Tigers' defense is typically ahead of the offense, all six NSD surprises came from defensive players.

Here's a look at those six players Les Miles & Co. had to sweat out dating back to 2009, who LSU beat out in each instance and how those surprises fortified and even shaped Tiger defenses since.

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The wheels were in motion on this four-star flip a year ago beginning the weekend prior to National Signing Day. That's when Teuhema, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound defensive end from Keller, Tex., visited LSU, giving him the impetus to drop a 10-month commitment to Texas, which he did two days later on Tuesday, the day before NSD.

He ultimately announced his pledge to the Tigers on Signing Day, something that came not only as a surprise, but with a 346-pound add-on. LSU simultaneously landed a signature from Sione in 2014 and a commitment from his brother, Maea Teuhema, Scout's No. 1 offensive guard in the country in 2015. That double-whammy proved to be the defining moment of NSD 2014 for LSU. Tight ends coach Steve Ensminger led the way in the recruitment of Sione, a pass-rushing specialist who registered two sacks in his freshman season and is poised to compete for a starting defensive end job in 2015.


How does a kid get from New Jersey to Baton Rouge, you may ask? In the case of Bower, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound four-star defensive end, many that followed his recruitment closely are probably still asking that question two years later. His inked National Letter of Intent to LSU constitutes the biggest (positive) surprise for the Tigers over the last six years.

Bower was a longtime commit to Auburn before reopening his recruitment and, in the hours leading up to NSD 2013, making it clear LSU and Florida were in his final three. So the story goes, in the wee hours of that fateful Wednesday morning Bower let it be known to Florida's staff that he planned to be a Gator ... and then a Florida assistant decided it would be a good idea to let the cat out of the bag on social media, robbing Bower of his moment that day. So what did he do? Reversed course again, inking with sudden beneficiary LSU late-morning.

Bower went on to play some his freshman season, served as the first rotating player in at defensive end as a sophomore in 2014 and projects as a starter this coming season. The lesson: dumb luck is better than no luck.


Auburn was again in this recruiting battle with LSU, but the biggest threat to land Alexander was Ole Miss. In fact that's where most figured the Oxford, Ala., native would land, primarily because that's where it was pretty much understood Alexander's high school teammate Trae Elston was going. Well, on NSD 2012, Elston did sign on as a Rebel (and has enjoyed a strong career to date with the Landsharks), but Alexander had something else in store.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound four-star, rated Scout's No. 3 outside linebacker in the country, inked with LSU in the morning that Wednesday, ultimately swayed by a chance to play for now-former coordinator and linebackers coach John Chavis. The Tigers continued to show supreme interest in Alexander even after the player suffered a knee injury late in his high school career, something that also stuck with him. He went on to carve out playing time as a true freshman before another injury derailed his 2012 season, but Alexander again bounced back strong, ending 2014 as LSU's leading tackler before declaring for this spring's NFL Draft.


The mildest of the six surprises, Rasco, a five-star defensive end who stood 6-foot-3 and weighed 250 pounds, still made LSU wait. There was some suspense, however, mainly due to the fact that the Shreveport native took his final official visit in January to Florida, widely understood to be his second finalist.

Rasco ended the drama on NSD 2011, becoming part of the famed class dubbed "The Fam" and setting off the biggest reaction that Wednesday at the River Centre in downtown Baton Rouge, formerly where the Bayou Bash party was held. His four-year stint at LSU is just now coming to an end, but Rasco was productive while on campus. He became a two-year starter at end and this past season paced LSU in sacks with four.


A member of the all-time name team, Ferguson was a huge pull on NSD 2010 by former LSU defensive line coach Brick Haley (now in some kind of coaching limbo with the Tigers). But it wasn't exactly expected. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound four-star prospect, Scout's No. 7 defensive tackle in America, was seen by many national analysts as down between California and Miami.

Somehow the Tigers found a way to stay in position, ultimately securing a signature from the Hargrave Academy (Va.) standout on Signing Day. That was something Haley always managed to do for LSU – keep them in the fight for out-of-state defensive linemen. A good number of times the Bayou Bengals finished a close second, but in the case of Ferguson, Haley got his man. Ferguson took some developing while at LSU, but by the time he left after his redshirt junior season, he was in-line to become the 51st overall pick (second round) in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.


This could actually be considered the original Brick Haley surprise, although to be fair – and more accurate – Haley's predecessor as defensive line coach, Earl Lane, was heavily recruiting Montgomery before a staff shake-up occurred early in the 2009 offseason. Their tag-team effort paid off with Sonic Sam, a South Carolina native who was down to LSU, Tennessee and North Carolina.

On NSD 2009 Montgomery, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound four-star defensive end, stared at helmets of all three schools on a table during his announcement. He chose the purple and gold and shortly after credited the persistent efforts of Lane as well as how quickly he was able to establish a rapport with Haley. After taking a redshirt, Montgomery burst onto the scene in 2010 before a season-ending injury versus Tennessee. He became a second-team All-American in 2012 and was selected 95th overall (third round) in the 2013 NFL Draft.



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