This year's no exception as once again the Tigers find themselves in battles with several top teams from throughout the South. TSD has picked out seven teams battling LSU hardest for elite recruits in the 2016 class, most from the SEC West but some others from the Big 12 and ACC.
In each breakdown, we've provided some of the notable recruits targeted by both schools, and we'll also give some background on what's happened in these respective recruitments. We'll also make a prediction for how we expect LSU to fare in each of these battles.
**Note: The number in parenthesis after a team name is where that school currently falls in Scout's national recruiting rankings. For reference, LSU sits at No. 2.
ALABAMA Crimson Tide (No. 3)
Notable recruits targeted by both: Mykel Jones, Devin White, Rashard Lawrence, Lyndell Wilson, Ben Davis
It'll surprise no one that LSU and Alabama are once again fighting over top recruits. These two have developed an incredible recruiting rivalry over the last few years, and the Class of 2016 has several battles brewing. The Crimson Tide are charging hard for three from Louisiana, while LSU is pressing for a pair from Alabama's backyard.
Both LSU and Alabama landed in the top five for five-star defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence. Though he had three from outside the SEC in the mix, it figures to be these two fighting for him in the end. The gap between them is nearly nonexistent at this point, and it's essentially a coin flip entering the fall. Devin White, the state's top RB, said both LSU and Alabama will receive official visits from him, and they've both been fighting for him for more than two years. Mykel Jones has each school as a finalist, and he has a former teammate in Daylon Charlot already in Tuscaloosa.
New LSU defensive coordinator Kevin Steele immediately got the Tigers involved with a pair of linebackers he targeted at Alabama. Both Ben Davis and Lyndell Wilson are five-star prospects, and a visit in the spring shot LSU up both boards. They've been to Alabama a ton though, and are considered the favorite for each recruit.
PREDICTION: LSU will secure Devin White as the only running back in the 2016 class. Ed Orgeron will also solidify the city of Monroe and get Rashard Lawrence to stay in the state. Alabama will strike for one Louisiana recruit in Mykel Jones to get their second wide receiver out of Patterson. The Tigers will be a factor until the end for Lyndell Wilson and Ben Davis, but the two linebackers will announce on NSD that they're staying closer to home.
AUBURN Tigers (No. 18)
Notable recruits targeted by both: Shavar Manuel, Rashan Gary, Stephon Taylor, Willie Allen
Both LSU and Auburn have done really well in recent years to land big-time defensive linemen from outside their states' borders. In 2016, both teams are in the mix for two of the nation's best.
Five-star Shavar Manuel recently released a top three that included LSU and Auburn (also Florida). It's the two Tigers that currently have the most momentum exiting the summer, and though this figures to be a wild recruitment, most consider one of these two teams will land him come NSD. Fellow five-star Rashan Gary hasn't officially released a top five, but both LSU and Auburn expect to be in it once he does. Gary visited both schools this summer, and had big things to say about each school. They'll have competition, but at this point, they're looking like two of the top contenders.
Auburn's also trying to take a couple from Louisiana. Stephon Taylor currently lives in New Orleans, but he's originally from Alabama, and his father still lives about 45 minutes from Auburn's campus. There are some other schools in play for him, but Auburn and LSU are the top two contenders. Willie Allen recently said that Auburn would receive one of his official visits after checking them out earlier this summer. He's LSU's top OT target in Louisiana, but he's interested in a lot of out-of-state schools.
PREDICTION: LSU has a real chance to land both Manuel and Gary, but it's more likely they only get one. Shavar Manuel seems like the heavier lean at this point, so we'll predict he's the one that ends up at LSU. It's too hard to predict where Gary will end up at this point, but we'll say for now that LSU still has a little more ground to make up on Auburn. As for the two in-state prospects, we'll peg Taylor to head for Auburn, while Allen will give serious thought to leaving the state but will ultimately stick with LSU.
OLE MISS Rebels (No. 5)
Notable recruits targeted by both: Drake Davis, Deontay Anderson, Devin White, Willie Allen
Much of Ole Miss' appeal with Louisiana recruits in the 2016 class stems from Shea Patterson, the nation's top quarterback. Though he's now at the IMG Academy, he built solid relationships with several guys during his time in the Boot, including Devin White and Willie Allen. Both players have said they'd really like to play with him on the next level, and Ole Miss expects to receive official visits from both White and Allen.
Drake Davis is now teammates with Patterson at the IMG Academy. Their relationship goes back a couple years, and they figure to get even tighter now that they're on the same team. Ole Miss has long been considered his leader, but LSU offered him last month and are now pushing to get him back to Louisiana.
LSU and Ole Miss figure to be the top two teams for Deontay Anderson, one of the nation's top two safeties. LSU has always been one of his favorite schools, but he's grown a bit more open over the last few months. There are other schools in the mix, but he'll likely end up in the SEC at one of these two programs.
PREDICTION: We've already predicted that Devin White will end up at LSU. We feel Willie Allen as well, but Ole Miss will be the biggest threat before it's all over. Drake Davis will continue leaning more toward Ole Miss now that he's paired up with Patterson, and the Rebels will ultimately bring him in. We also think Deontay Anderson will head to Oxford with a more inviting depth chart at safety.
TEXAS A&M Aggies (No. 36)
Notable recruits targeted by both: Drake Davis, Clyde Leflore, Ross Blacklock, Michael Divinity
Texas A&M entered the SEC and set its recruiting sights squarely on Louisiana. The Aggies have made the neighboring state a big priority, but they've really only managed to steal one major prospect from under LSU's nose. A&M will continue to fight though, and there are a few from Louisiana they're really pressing for in 2016.
We already discussed Drake Davis, who has the Aggies in his top three, but we feel he's more likely to end up at Ole Miss than A&M. The Aggies are a top contender for another wide receiver in Clyde Leflore. They were the first school to offer him, and he has a former teammate already in College Station. With desperate needs on defense, A&M has made Michael Divinity a top target, and they're one of the schools in line to receive an official visit from him.
It works both ways though, and LSU always goes to Texas for recruits. One recruit they're both fighting for is the big nose tackle Ross Blacklock. These schools are his top two, but LSU has a lot of momentum after a pair of summer visits.
PREDICTION: Clyde Leflore will stick with the team that offered him first, and he'll head for College Station to try and shine in that electric offense. LSU will fend off the Aggies though for Michael Divinity and keep the state's best linebacker in Louisiana. We also think LSU will win with Ross Blacklock, as they've done well to win over his entire family in recent months.
Texas Longhorns (No. 41)
Notable recruits targeted by both: Dee Anderson, Erick Fowler, Rahssan Thornton, Jamal Pettigrew, Jeffrey McCulloch, Dontavious Jackson
Charlie Strong is still gaining his traction with Texas on the recruiting trail. Their down years made the state of Texas open season for recruiting, and LSU has done well to take advantage in the past. That's continued in 2016, with LSU landing several Lone Star commits, but that also means Texas will continue to fight to keep them home.
Texas is still in the hunt for Dee Anderson, Erick Fowler and Rahssan Thornton. The Longhorns have made Anderson a big priority throughout this cycle, and he's said they're the only school that could get him to rethink his commitment. Fowler only lives about 15 minutes from Texas' campus, so it's natural that they'll continue to push for him. Rahssan Thornton is another big priority for them, but he's originally from New Orleans and that makes LSU tough to beat. Texas also wants Jamal Pettigrew, but that's more than a long shot.
LSU won't be afraid to dip into Texas' backyard though, and that's what they're trying to do with linebackers Dontavious Jackson and Jeffrey McCulloch. They've long been considered heavy leans to the Longhorns, but LSU has made them top targets at their position.
PREDICTION: We think Texas will strike out with the LSU commits. The Tigers will likely have to sweat out several visits to Austin from all these guys, but they seem very solid at this point. Texas will win the battle though for the two linebackers as they likely end up at the same school on the next level.
TCU Horned Frogs (No. 14)
Notable recruits targeted by both: Stephen Sullivan, Sewo Olonilua
These two schools are trying to steal a commit from the other. Stephen Sullivan was one of the Tigers' first commits in the 2016 class, but TCU has been on him nearly as long. Sullivan has family near Fort Worth, and he's taken several visits to TCU in recent months. They're the only team that could get him away from LSU.
LSU only offered Sewo Olonilua a couple weeks ago, but they already have his interest. He said before that even happened that LSU could get him to reconsider his commitment, and he visited Baton Rouge less than a week after LSU came through with that offer. The Tigers like him as a hybrid linebacker/safety and have really ramped up their interest in him.
PREDICTION: Though each recruit will give his respective fan base a good sweat, we think both will stick with the school to which they're currently committed. It may come down to the wire, with official visits possible, but we expect Stephen Sullivan to end up at LSU while Sewo Olonilua stays with the Horned Frogs.
FLORIDA STATE Seminoles (No. 6)
Notable recruits targeted by both: Trayvon Mullen, Kyle Meyers
It's a battle over two corners between LSU and Florida State. Though Trayvon Mullen has mentioned a lot of schools near the top of his list, the Tigers and Seminoles have always been the two leaders. Most have pegged LSU as the leader between the two schools, but the gap may not be very wide. LSU's also recently picked up its interest in Kyle Meyers. The New Orleans native landed an LSU offer in July, a couple months after he committed to Florida State. The in-state appeal could be enough to convince him to flip, but he's stayed on Florida State's commit list in the month since LSU offered.
PREDICTION: LSU has felt for a long time that it's the team to beat with Trayvon Mullen. We think he'll eventually land with the Tigers, and that will ultimately convince Kyle Meyers to stick with his commitment to the Seminoles.