LSU has the potential for a boom or bust linebacker class in 2017. When Dylan Moses and Chris Allen committed to Alabama, eyebrows were raised and worry set in among LSU fans about where the Tigers were going to land much-needed linebackers. As the staff returns to action in the contact period shortly, linebackers and finishing strong with defensive linemen like Marvin Wilson and Phidarian Mathis remain at the forefront for Ed Orgeron & Co.
With that, we dive into where things stand at linebacker for the Tigers after Under Armour Week.
Starting with one of the more well-known targets of 2017, Southern Lab linebacker Chris Allen impressed during Under Armour Week with just his physicality and his body. Allen is going to be a big-time player for someone and is committed to Alabama right now. The staff hasn't let up on him and neither did the LSU commits this week. Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse both pushed Allen to join them in his hometown of Baton Rouge for college. Allen is a quiet, tough to read kid, but he's acknowledged that he's listening. It's a longshot as the four-star linebacker has said he's solid and many believe he'll stay true to his word, but this will play out through National Signing Day.
Chances to land: 10%
I really like where LSU stands with Will Ignont following the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game practices that I caught up with him. Ignont is a kid that is committed to Tennessee, but is really considering LSU and Dave Aranda's pitch. LSU is likely to get an official visit from Ignont and that will be the time where LSU can make its pitch. At the end, when Ignont talks about how things can change that would change his commitment, it might be Aranda more than anything in terms of changing his mind. Ignont is a versatile linebacker similar to Allen and while he might at times find himself on the edge, LSU could certainly use Ignont inside.
Chances to land: 70%
Four-star linebacker Tyler Taylor out of Georgia is a kid LSU has been trying to get on campus for a bit now and the Tigers might accomplish that in January with a visit. Oklahoma is still trending well for Taylor as is Auburn, but it's a long month to NSD. As far as options, Taylor is one that fits exactly what LSU needs. Can LSU make up the ground on Oklahoma, Oklahomas State and Auburn? That's another question. There's interest from Taylor, but LSU has to prioritize him, otherwise, there's a good chance he'll end up elsewhere.
Chances to land: 40%
The Starkville, Miss. native decommitted from Ole Miss and his recruiter left the Rebels. Michigan now appears full and while Mississippi State is there, LSU has a chance to make a run at Willie Gay if they so choose. I feel like it's up to Aranda on this one. It appears there's other linebackers stacked on the board above Gay, but that's just my thoughts on that. Gay is high on LSU, but again, how high on the board is Gay? Right now, I think there's bigger priorities for the staff. With LSU losing Rice, Gay might have to become a big priority for LSU.
Chances to land: 40%
The downside for LSU with Jacob Phillips playing in the Army All-American Bowl is that there's not one LSU commit playing in the game this week. There's no recruiting going on like LSU had on Chaisson and others in the Under Armour Game. Phillips can be another player to step right in and fit exactly what LSU needs at inside linebacker similar to Taylor. Phillips has been open to LSU's pursuit of him, as he hosted LSU for an in-home visit in December, but Oklahoma has also done a nice job continuing to recruit him.
Chances to land: 20%
If LSU gets the Orlando, Fla. native on campus, there's a good chance he flips from N.C. State. Nick Smith is a solid option to play inside linebacker for LSU and is underrated. The 6-3, 215-pound linebacker is listed at outside, but LSU sees him as inside. Smith has picked up Florida and LSU offers now and a few more are expected now that those dominoes have fallen. With that type of interest, Smith is expected to take a look at LSU and listen to its pitch. When it comes down to it, the simple pitch of playing time in the SEC should be enough to land Smith.
Chances to land: 70%
The Livonia native has been one of LSU's most solid commitments. There's no worry here with the future Rover in Aranda's defense.
Chances to land: 100%
Class Prediction: Queen, Ignont, Smith
Ignont talks LSU, Tennessee at MS-AL All-Star Practice
After spending a week being recruited by a few LSU commits at the Under Armour Game, K'Lavon Chaisson is down to LSU and Texas. Every LSU commit I've talked with feels very good about the Tigers' chances to land the Under Armour All-American. Chaisson is an absolute fit for Arden Key's role in Aranda's 3-4. If Chaisson has been watching LSU this year, he (and Markaviest Bryant) should be impressed with what Aranda did with Key at their future position if they pick LSU. Texas has made a big push here, but as of now and what we've heard this week, Chaisson is a good bet to be a Tiger.
Chances to land: 80%
It's tough to put the chances above 50 percent with Auburn still in the mix for four-star defensive end Markaviest Bryant, but with LSU set to get an official visit in late January. That's good news for LSU and by then, maybe Auburn picks up a couple commitments at Bryant's spot, but realistically, Bryant is one of Auburn's top targets. Bryant will visit the Plains and LSU in January and it'll likely come down to which one he likes more. Ed Orgeron and Arden Key have both been talking to Bryant about coming in and being a Tiger. If Bryant is okay with competing with Chaisson, Sci Martin and Andre Anthony, there's a good chance that an official visit and a sit down with Orgeron will be enough to win the day. Right now with Auburn the real competition just ahead of LSU and Georgia going to have a tough time taking Bryant if he wanted to go there, it's not good enough to go above 50 percent as far as feeling for Bryant. That can change quickly in January though.
Chances to land: 40%
Class Prediction: Chaisson