LSU's Elite Eight Recruits

In the spirit of March Madness, TSD takes a look at the Elite Eight of LSU's recruits in the 2016 class, the absolute must-gets for the Tigers

It’s NCAA Tournament time and we’re going to bring March Madness to the world of LSU recruiting — not that it needs any more.

LSU’s Big Board still has a ton of names on it at this early stage, but we’re going to highlight the Elite Eight, the crème of the crop and some of the absolute must-get recruits in this cycle. It’s heavy on defensive players, as that’s where the biggest needs are, so let’s break down each recruit and gauge where LSU stands.

Rashard Lawrence is one of the most impressive defensive tackle prospects I’ve seen. He blew me away with his performance in the state championship game, leading Neville to another title. He’s a consensus five-star and the No. 2 overall recruit in Louisiana. Ed Orgeron has made him one of his top priorities in the 2016 class, and with good reason. After catching up with Lawrence last week, I like where the Tigers stand. He visited campus recently and got to spend a lot of time with the players and coaches. Alabama and Ole Miss are the two biggest threats, but he probably won’t narrow things down until the summer. But after not taking a DT in 2015, LSU has to land Lawrence to solidify that position.

As much as I just raved about Lawrence, Ed Alexander is just as important to the Tigers. He’s the other five-star defensive tackle in Louisiana and another guy that can bring LSU’s DT position to elite status. Alexander was once committed to the Tigers, but backed off because he wanted to go through the recruiting process with an open mind. That’s not bad news for LSU though. I still believe if NSD was tomorrow that Alexander would sign with the Tigers. I actually feel even better about LSU’s chances with Alexander than I do with Lawrence, and the Tigers have a good shot at landing both five-star DTs.

The biggest position of need in this class is at linebacker. The state hasn’t produced many of those in recent years, which makes Divinity all the more important. He’s the only Louisiana linebacker has offered in the last two classes, and he’ll be one of the top priorities moving forward. Now that Kevin Steele’s in charge, he and Frank Wilson are working to lure Divinity in to this class. In addition to LSU, Divinity likes Texas A&M, Tennessee, Miami and Oklahoma. The Aggies are the biggest competition at this point, but as LSU continues to show Divinity the love, we could see the Tigers jump to the front.

LSU missed on the state’s best offensive tackle in each of the last two classes. The Tigers can’t make that same mistake a third year in a row, which makes Willie Allen a top priority. He’s now the No. 4 overall recruit in the state, and ranks No. 28 in the country. He’s taken a very wide-open approach to his recruitment, and it doesn’t appear that LSU has an in-state advantage over other programs. But the Tigers are definitely in that lead group. Ole Miss is probably the team to watch closest, as his connection to Shea Patterson is a big plus for the Rebels. Though LSU landed a really solid OL class in 2015, losing a guy like Allen would still be a tough blow.

LSU already has a commitment from the nation’s No. 1 corner (Saivion Smith), but the Tigers can afford to be greedy at that position. Being DBU means loading up on as many top defensive backs as possible, and LSU can do just that in this class. Landing Kristian Fulton would certainly help that, as he ranks as the best corner in the state, No. 3 at that position nationally. He visited campus last weekend, and has been to Baton Rouge many times over the last year. LSU’s sitting pretty to land Fulton, and he’s about as close to a sure bet as you can get at this point.

Devin White’s the closest thing to a freak in this class. He measured in at almost 260 pounds at the NFTC last weekend, but still clocked a 4.5-40 and earned an invite to The Opening. He’s looking more and more like a linebacker, though LSU will still continue to look at him for either side of the ball. But with how big the need is at linebacker, White’s looking like the guy that can fill it as he grows even more into the mold of a MIKE backer. LSU’s felt good about its chances since offering him almost two years ago, but there are others in the mix. Alabama and Ole Miss are probably the two biggest threats, but the Tigers are in good shape for now.

Let’s turn out attention outside Louisiana to another one of the nation’s best linebackers. Keion Joyner ranks No. 1 at his position, and has been a top LSU target throughout this recruiting cycle. John Chavis first targeted him from the Tigers, and the new coaches have picked up in making him a high priority. Kevin Steele has had to essentially start over, but there’s still a lot for Joyner to like about LSU. He still has family in Abbeville, and that could be a big advantage for the Tigers. There’s a lot of competition in his recruitment, but LSU will keep working to solidify its spot in the lead group.

LSU has targeted several top safeties nationwide, including each one of the top three at that position. We could have just as easily included No. 1 Brandon Jones or No. 2 Eric Monroe on this list, but Deontay Anderson appears to be the one to watch closest. Of that group of safeties, Anderson’s probably the strongest lean to LSU at the moment. He’s visited Baton Rouge many times, including a trip last month for “Boys from the Boot,” even though he’s not from Louisiana. Anderson says he plans to narrow down his recruitment this summer and probably decide after his senior season. But we expect Anderson to make several more trips to LSU between now and then, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go ahead and pick the Tigers at some point. LSU just has to continue riding the strong momentum it’s built to this point.

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