TIGER WRAP: This week's recruiting scoop

It's Friday and that means it's time for another edition of Tiger Rag's Tiger Wrap.

This week we will take a look at the prospects scheduled for an official visit this weekend, along with the latest on Zhamal Thomas, Perrish Cox, Ian Symonette, Reshad Jones, Al Woods, Gerald McCoy, Marcus Gilbert, Jared Mitchell, Ricky Dixon, Jai Eugene and Bani Gbadyu.


It's been well documented that this weekend is going to be big in terms of recruiting and it very well could make or break the 2006 class.


LSU has a legitimate shot with 8 of the 9 guys coming in for a visit and they are all near the top of Les Miles' list at their respective positions.


Here is a snapshot look at who is scheduled to be in town and then we will take a closer look at where LSU stands with each prospect: Zhamal Thomas, Perrish Cox, Ian Symonette, Reshad Jones, Al Woods, Gerald McCoy, Marcus Gilbert, Jared Mitchell and Ricky Dixon.


There is a good chance New Iberia (La.) offensive lineman Zhamal Thomas will pull the trigger on his visit and give the Tigers a good looking guard prospect that has All-SEC potential down the road.


"I think there is a good chance I might do it," Thomas told Tiger Rag.


When asked what might make him go ahead and commit this weekend, Thomas replied, "It's LSU. Enough said."


If it was not for Thomas' academic status then he would probably be one of the more highly sought after guard prospects in the South. The two schools battling for the BCS Championship, USC and Texas, both extended a verbal offer but neither followed through with one in writing simply because they probably did not feel he would be academically qualified.


Pete Carroll and Mack Brown are not known for throwing verbal offers around so that is a testament to just how impressive this kid is on the gridiron.


Those two coaches, and many more for that matter, may regret that they backed off because Thomas is quite confident that he will have his academics in order. He is taking correspondence courses which will help improve his GPA and he only needs a couple of points on the ACT.


Look for LSU to try and place Thomas at a junior college if he does not qualify but the big 6-4, 325-pounder is not too keen on that idea. If he does not end up making the grade in the classroom then he will likely never suit up for the Tigers and could end up at a smaller school on the Division I-AA level.


Scout.com's No. 4 rated o-lineman in the country, Ian Symonette, will also be in town and he has a bull's eye on his chest.


Miami is the team to beat and Les Miles is going to have to make a great sales pitch to pull him away from the Hurricanes.


There are just too many factors favoring Miami for the big 6-9, 345-pound tackle.


For starters, if Symonette played for Miami then he would be a hero back home in the Bahamas because the Hurricanes are to the tropical island what LSU is to the state of Louisiana.


Another advantage Miami has is the distance factor.


Symonette's family can get a roundtrip ticket from the Bahamas to Miami for less than $180 a ticket and it's a straight shot. Now, I haven't checked or anything but I would guess that a roundtrip ticket from the island to Baton Rouge would probably at least double, if not more.


The culture thing also has to be considered and that is another factor weighing in Miami's favor.


It's not out of the realm of possibility for Miles to convince Symonette that LSU is the best place for him and the Tigers do have a shot but there is a lot of work to be done on this front.


Four-star offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert is also scheduled to make the trip over from the Sunshine State but Florida is the big leader Fort Lauderdale tackle prospect.


Florida does have two offensive tackles already committed so that may weigh on Gilbert's decision but the likelihood of him signing with the Tigers is slim.


It's not slim to none but is very slim.


Two of the top defensive tackles in the country will be on the LSU campus in Al Woods and Gerald McCoy.


Woods committed a long time ago but some Tiger fans have been nervous because he has talked about taking some other visits. If he does take any more visits there is no need to worry because he will sign with the Tigers in February.


Woods is reportedly still a little short on his test score so if Tiger fans are going to worry about anything at all then that is what they should be worrying about.


McCoy, a 6-5, 285-pounder from Oklahoma City, has been talking up LSU lately and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar deserves huge kudos for getting the five-star recruit to visit.


McCoy is also looking at USC, Oklahoma and Notre Dame but his interest in the Tigers is peaking at the right time.


I don't think it's a coincidence that he and Woods are visiting on the same weekend and Dunbar has to be hoping that the two will strike up a friendship and decide to play their college ball together.


Two of the top three receivers in the Bayou State will get the red carpet treatment from the staff as Jared Mitchell and Ricky Dixon will make the short drive over to Baton Rouge.


LSU is in very good shape with Dixon and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he went ahead and committed on his trip. He may not go public with his commitment but I'd be willing to bet the house that he tells Miles it is a done deal and he only wants to take some trips for fun.


Mitchell is an interesting story because it may be August before anyone knows if he will ever step foot on a college campus.


Pro baseball is expected to throw some big bucks his way in June and he could have an extremely tough decision to make. If he does decide to go the college route and play football and baseball then LSU is the team to beat over the likes of South Carolina, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Ole Miss.


One has to wonder, though, if Miles wants to take a chance on Mitchell if he can pick up a pair of commitments from some of the other top guys on the board.


Who knows?


The same thing that happened to Robert Lane three years ago may happen to Mitchell but if you listen to the pro baseball scouts that is not likely to happen.


Four-star cornerback Perrish Cox is making his much-anticipated official visit and if things go well he could give the Tigers his pledge as early as next week.


Oklahoma and LSU had been leading for Cox's services but he recently told Scout.com that the Tigers and Oklahoma State occupy his top two spots.


Cox almost committed to Les Miles back over the summer and probably would have if not for all of the talk of playing him at receiver rather than corner.


After the coaches went and scouted him as a senior and saw him in action, though, now they are telling him that he can play corner and that he will get a shot there first. The concern seemed to be on whether or not he was physical enough to play back there.


One thing that has never been in question is his cover skills.


"Want a lock down corner that is not afraid to press you," said Texas recruiting analyst Stacey Dean. "Then Cox is your man. We watched this kid match up with the Lone Star State's Top 6 WRs and let me tell you something, he brought his 'A' Game -- leaving no one in question about his abilities to man the CB position on the next level."


The nation's 11th ranked safety Reshad Jones will fly in from Atlanta on Friday to check things out.


The Tigers need a free safety in this class because of the uncertainty surrounding LaRon Landry's future and Jones would be a good fit for the Tigers' scheme.


If Landry opts to test the NFL waters then the Tigers have a decent shot at picking up Jones' signature.


The four-star prospect keeps things close to the vest but the last time I spoke to him I got the feeling that LSU, Miami and Georgia were the only real players.


The nation's No. 1 rated cornerback Jai Eugene visited with Les Miles for a couple of hours on Sunday and the two mostly talked about whether or not the Destrehan product would take an official to LSU.


Eugene did not rule out the possibility but as of now it is unlikely he will cancel one of his final four official trips he has set. He already tripped to Michigan and he is scheduled to go to USC (12/16), Tennessee (1/13), Florida (1/20) and Miami (1/27).


I have mixed feelings on Eugene's decision not to take an official to LSU simply because it is never good when a prospect does not take an official to a school. However, Eugene has been to LSU so many times over the last two years that I totally see his point of view.


The kid wants to take some trips and go see some other places and I don't think you can hold that against someone when this is the first chance they have ever had to get away for a little while.


Eugene told me that LSU will be in his top three and I know for a fact that he feels more strongly about LSU than he is letting on to.


The one thing that concerns me is that if Miles goes overboard with the "you need to take an official visit to LSU if you are really considering the school" like Eugene says he was told then that could alienate the young man if he gets an ultimatum. I think Miles has more sense than to do something like that but I may be in the minority on that issue.


I still feel strongly that LSU will be the team to beat but Miami is going to take this down to the wire. In the end, though, being able to stay close to his son and to see him on a regular basis will be his deciding factor.


I caught up with Bani Gbadyu late Thursday evening and he told me that Penn State was his favorite but he was still committed to LSU.


Right about now you are probably asking yourself the same thing that went through my mind.


How can you be still be committed to the school you chose over the summer but another school is your favorite?


Gbadyu couldn't talk long and he was not real talkative at the time but I could tell he still has strong feelings for LSU but some people close to him are pushing him towards Happy Valley.


If it was not for Hurricane Katrina then Gbadyu would sign with the Tigers on signing day but Joe Paterno will more than likely end up landing the standout linebacker.


That is all for now but be sure and check back on Sunday and all next week as we will update you on the big recruiting weekend and let you know if the Tigers pick up any new pledges.

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