LSU must load up on linebackers in 2016

Kevin Steele has a big job to do as LSU must land a major haul of linebackers in the 2016 class

Les Miles said “very” twice to show just how important linebackers are to the 2016 class.

That’s after LSU failed to sign a linebacker in the 2015 class. The Tigers now have only four linebackers from each of the last three classes combined. That lack of depth may not cost them next season, but it Will Down the line, and LSU will need to load up in 2016 to ease that concern.

Kevin Steele will have his work cut out for him in his first full season in charge of LSU’s defense. And like the Tigers have had to do often the last few years, LSU will likely have to turn out-of-state to address its need at linebacker.

That’s because LSU has only targeted one in-state LB thus far — Michael Divinity. In fact, Divinity’s the only Louisiana linebacker currently rated by Scout (excluding Devin White, who ranks as a four-star MLB but is still being recruited as a running back). So you can imagine that locking down Divinity will be one of LSU’s first priorities in 2016.

Divinity released a top five last month that didn’t include the Tigers. It listed Texas A&M, Miami, Florida State, Ole Miss and Oklahoma. But that came when the Tigers were still searching for a new LB coach. Now that Steele’s on board, LSU’s right back in that lead group and figures to be the prime contender moving forward.

Divinity’s an extremely athletic outside linebacker, so athletic that during camp this summer he lined up as a corner in one-on-one drills. So look for Divinity to be the name atop the LB board moving forward.

So while LSU continues to evaluate the in-state crop, they’ll likely turn their focus out-of-state to get a jump-start on the LB class. The Tigers did so in a big way during National Signing Day by handing out offers to a pair of new prospects.

One of those was Ben Davis, a four-star OLB from Gordo, Ala. He’s a Crimson Tide legacy, and Kevin Steele recruited him while he was with Alabama. There’s a relationship there, so Steele will try to rekindle that now that he’s wearing different colors.

The other new offer went to Erick Fowler, a four-star from Texas. He actually rates as a defensive end on Scout, but at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Fowler could project to OLB if Steele does want to get more 3-4 with the LSU defense. Fowler has said LSU was a school he liked growing up, and you’d imagine the nearby Longhorns would be a big contender as well.

One recruit that LSU recruited heavily before the new defensive coaches came aboard was five-star Keion Joyner, the No. 2 overall recruit in the class. He regularly mentioned LSU among his early lead group, but that was with John Chavis in charge, and he was Joyner’s lead recruiter. Steele did recruit Joyner to Alabama though, so he should be able to keep those good vibes going for the Tigers.

Outside of the recruits already mentioned, LSU had previously offered LBs like Daniel Bituli, Devin Bush, Dontavius Jackson and Emmit Gooden. Those offers were all handed out before Steele came aboard, so we’ll have to see which direction he takes it from here.

But the pressure will be on him to load up at the position. You can look at LSU OL Jeff Grimes and the job he did in his first full cycle, and you can set that kind of standard for Steele in 2016. He came to Baton Rouge with a recruiting reputation, and this class will be his chance to prove it.

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