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1/31/15 6:00 am CT

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Good morning, Tiger Fans,

As I do on most Friday mornings, yesterday I made it out to the coffee shop to talk LSU sports with a group of friends, and naturally the hot topic of discussion was recruiting. The general consensus among the group was that this LSU class is absolutely loaded at several key positions and should finished highly ranked, but in order for it to really meet team needs in every regard the Tigers desperately need to add at least one more defensive end and linebacker, and another quarterback would be nice, too. 

As for the defensive end position, things are looking up since LSU target Arden Key cancelled his visit to Auburn yesterday after meeting with Coaches Miles and Orgeron. Key is expected to make his announcement Monday evening and I like where LSU stands. Also, two other big-time defensive end prospects are still in play for LSU in CeCe Jefferson (visiting LSU this weekend), and Prince Tega Wanogho, although Wanogho’s decision will likely come well after Signing Day. At this point, I feel very confident about LSU landing at least one of those three, and that will put LSU in good shape at the position. 

As for the quarterback position, LSU made an in-home visit with Ohio State commit Torrence Gibson and it was said to have gone very well. I would love to see LSU flip Gibson, and I think the chances are good, but if they don’t it won’t be the end of the world. LSU already had one elite QB commit for 2016 (Feliepe Franks) and is hot on the trail of another, Louisiana’s own Shea Patterson of Calvary Baptist who will be very highly rated on my list of Top Louisiana Football Prospects for 2016. 

The linebacker position is the one that gives me most concern in this year’s class, as LSU currently has no LB commitments. As one of our group members astutely pointed out, LSU will be okay at linebacker this season, but without any linebackers in this year’s class the Tigers could find themselves very thin at the position when they open the 2016 season in Lambeau Field against a run-heavy Wisconsin team, especially if Kendell Beckwith bypasses his senior year for the draft. As for who might fill the need at linebacker in this year’s signing class, LSU’s top target is Leo Lewis and things are looking up for him as well. Ole Miss was unsuccessful in deterring him from visiting LSU, and late last night news broke that Lewis actually de-committed from Ole Miss. That is certainly great news for the Tigers! 

Along with Jefferson and Lewis, LSU is hosting four other prospects this weekend. They include WR Brandon Martin, TE Foster Moreau, S Justin Reid, and a new target whose name surfaced yesterday, punter Josh Growden. Hailing from Australia, Growden could give keep LSU’s Aussi pipeline of punters alive and well for years to come. One prospect who did not make it in to Baton Rouge for this weekend’s visit is safety Jamal Peters (Miss State commitment), but that doesn’t come as a shock. Peters was a long-shot at best, and I would be very pleased to see LSU meet its safety needs by extending an offer to Justin Reid, the brother of former Tiger great Eric Reid. 

The bottom line: Things are looking very good for LSU to once again finish very strong in recruiting. As one of my readers put it, “I’ve learned that Miles always finishes strong, but his recruiting is very similar to his games - Rolaids moment!  He should actually be a sponsor for them.”

Before moving on to other topics, it’s time for me to continue revealing our list of Top Louisiana Prospects for 2016 by posting numbers 21-30. 

21. Cameron Lewis (ATH), 6'2", 190, Wossman
22. Tre Turner (RB), 5'10", 187, Holy Cross
23. Willie Baker (DE), 6'4", 225, Livonia
24. Tre Regas (RB), 5'11", 200, Archbishop Shaw
25. Cole Kelly (QB), 6'7", 230, Teurlings Catholic of Lafayette
26. Collin Fountain (OL), 6'3", 335, Barbe
27. Clifford Chattman (S), 6'4", 175, McDonogh 35
28. Andre Anthony (DE), 6'3", 215, Miller-McCoy
29. Joshua Perry (S), 6'2", 185, Amite
30. Jon Randall Belton (QB), 6'3", 200, West Monroe 

Click here to view the entire list-in-progress, which now contains numbers 21-60.

In other football related news, contracts for LSU defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, as well as four other assistants, were approved yesterday by the Board of Supervisors. As stated in this article by nola.com, Steel and Orgeron each got two-year deals. Steele will make $1 million per year while Orgeron will make $445,000 in his first season and $450,000 in his second. For more info on all the contract agreements, including salaries for Cam Cameron, Adam Henry, Corey Raymond, Steve Ensminger, Jeff Grimes and Bradley Dale Peveto, see the article referenced above. 

In basketball news, LSU’s men will be looking for their 4th straight road win this afternoon when they  battle Mississippi State. The game is set to tipoff at 1 p.m. and will be televised by the SEC Network. Mississippi State has the lowest overall winning percentage (.450, 9-11) of any team in the league and is 2-5 in conference play, but LSU should know better than to take any SEC road game for granted. The Bulldogs are coming off of two close losses to Georgia and Ole Miss, while the Tigers are riding a wave of confidence after wins at Florida, at Vanderbilt, and at home against South Carolina in a game they played without the help of freshman guard Jaylen Patterson and freshman center Elbert Robinson III.  Robinson was sick, while Patterson was suffering from a hard hit he took in the game against Vanderbilt.  As of now, Patterson is listed as day-to-day while Robinson is expected to be available to play. After today’s game, the Tigers will return to Baton Rouge for a three-game home stretch culminating in a February 10th contest against Kentucky.

Reader Comments: Scott, I wanted to make sure you saw this and shared it with the readers: Bovada Gives Leonard Fournette 7/1 Odds for 2015 Heisman Trophy. The only player with higher odds is Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott (6/1).

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1/30/15 5:50 am CT

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Good morning, Tiger Fans,

With five days remaining before National Signing Day, the hot topic among Tiger Fans is recruiting and the recent commitment of elite offensive tackle Chidi Valentine-Okeke. Offensive tackle, along with defensive end and linebacker, is among the biggest positions of need for the Tigers, and Valentine-Okeke is one of the best OT prospects in the country. In fact, 247Sports rates him as a 5-star prospect and the No. 2 offensive tackle in the nation. Hats off to LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, Valentine-Okeke’s lead recruiter, for hauling in his biggest commitment since arriving at LSU. You know, it was disappointing to miss out on Louisiana’s top offensive tackle, Jerry Tillery, who committed to Notre Dame, but getting Valentine-Okeke reminded me of something my Dad (“Dandy Don” Long) used to write quite often. That is, if you lose out on a top in-state prospect, you have to go out and get an equal or better player out-of-state. I think Valentine-Okeke fits the bill. The only concern is that it is not certain whether he will qualify to enroll this fall. According to reports, Valentine-Okeke might need to gain some credit hours, and he’s still awaiting a test score. With Valentine-Okeke’s pledge, the Tigers’ 2015 class now includes 19 commitments, is ranked No. 8 in 247Sports’ Team Rankings, and has the fourth highest average player ranking. 

As I wrote yesterday, landing Valentine-Okeke could prove to be advantageous for LSU in attracting fellow Nigerian, defensive end target Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. There has been nothing to indicate that the two are a ”package deal,” but the two visited LSU on the same weekend and are reported to be close friends. For more on Valentine-Okeke’s commitment and how it came about, here’s a good read by Jimmy Smith of nola.com and another by Ross Dellenger of the Advocate.

LSU is set to entertain at least six prospects on official visits this weekend, including one relatively new target, Brandon Martin. Martin is a 6'4" receiver from Prime Prep Academy in Dallas who is currently committed to Missouri. Of the six prospects expected in, the one whose visit I’m most anxious to confirm is linebacker Leo Lewis. From what I understand, Ole Miss is going to make a strong effort today to reaffirm his commitment and convince him to cancel his trip to LSU. If he does in fact make it to Baton Rouge, I think the Tigers will be in good position to close the deal. The other four recruits scheduled to visit include defensive end CeCe Jefferson and safety Jamal Peters, as well as in-state prospects Foster Moreau (TE, 6'5", 225, Jesuit, No. 39 on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2015) and Justin Reid (S, 6'1", 188, Dutchtown, No. 28 on our list).

While on the topic of recruiting, it’s time to continue revealing our list of Top Louisiana Prospects for the Class of 2016 with numbers 31-40. Here we go…

31. Herb McGee (WR), 6'2", 175, Riverdale Academy
32. C. J. Morgan-Walker (ATH), 5'10", 180, Parkview
33. Tre Jackson (CB), 5'10", 160, University High
34. Travez Moore (DE), 6'4", 235, Bastrop
35. Bladrick Veal (QB), 6'5", 190, Southern Lab
36. Taylor Fondal (OG), 6'3", 275, Westgate
37. Gerald Wilbon (OG), 6'3", 310, Destrehan
38. Tyrice Neal (CB), 6'0", 175, Airline
39. Colton Prater (OG), 6'4", 270, Amite
40. Nathaniel Evans (LB), 6'2", 230, John Curtis 

In basketball news, LSU’s Lady Tigers improved to 11-9 overall and 5-3 in SEC play with a 70-41 win over Ole Miss. Jenna Deemer scored a career-high 22 points, and the Tigers used a suffocating defensive effort to  limit the Rebels to a season-low 41 points. LSU made 24-of-55 from the field, 5-of-11 from three-point range, and 17-of-26 from the free throw line. The Lady Tigers also had a season-best 22 steals. Next up, LSU squares off with Missouri as part of the SEC Network’s Monday Night Showcase. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. from the Maravich Center, and tickets are $1 as part of “Pack of the PMAC.” The game will be televised by the SEC Network.

LSU’s men’s team will return to action tomorrow with a 1 p.m. tipoff at Mississippi State. The game will be televised by the SEC Network.

A few tidbits in closing:

• Here’s a letter to Tiger Fans by LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva. Sounds like he’s pretty pumped about LSU’s latest football hires and the men’s basketball team.

USA Today released its preseason college baseball poll and ranked LSU No. 4. So far LSU has been ranked anywhere from No. 2 (Baseball America) to No. 9 (D1Baseball) in the four major polls released. In Perfect Game’s rankings, the Tigers came in at No. 7.

•  Odell Beckham, with the help of Drew Brees, set the Guinness record for the most one-handed catches in a minute. Here’s the article and video.

• Here’s a video with Tyrann Mathieu and Odell Beckham, Jr. talking up LSU and the other former Tiger players. Great for recruits to see!

Reminder: Our annual fundraiser is in it’s final stretch, so if you enjoy these daily updates and have been meaning to donate, today would be a perfect day to do so. ;) After National Signing Day, I won’t bug you with these appeals for a long time. Thanks in advance for your consideration. For those of you who have already contributed, my family and I extend our most sincere gratitude. 

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JUST IN! 8:45 am CST

LSU picked up its 19th commitment for 2015 and it’s a big one - OT Chidi Valentine-Okeke (6-6, 305, Ludowici, GA). Great get for the Tigers at a position of need, and could help a lot with fellow Nigerian, DE Prince Tega Wanogho. With Valentine-Okeke’s pledge, LSU now has 19 commitments and is ranked No. 8 in 247Sports’ team rankings. 

1/29/15 5:55 am CST

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Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Well, it wasn’t pretty at times, but the LSU men’s basketball team overcame a late four-point deficit by going on a 12-2 run in the last three minutes of the game to pull out a 64-58 home victory over South Carolina. Josh Gray led the late rally with a 3-pointer and jumper, and LSU made five of six free throws down the stretch while holding South Carolina to 1-of-7 shooting from the floor in the last three minutes of the second half. The win, which was the team’s third in a row, improved LSU’s record to 16-4 overall and 5-2 in the SEC. 

Here are the game’s video highlights, and here’s a quick recap of how it played out: Several lead changes occurred in the first half as no team led by more than five. LSU held a slim 29-28 edge at halftime before the Gamecocks used a 12-5 run to grab its largest lead at 40-34. LSU responded with a 12-5 run of its own to lead 46-45, but the Gamecocks dominated the offensive glass and hit a key 3-pointer to grab a 56-52 lead. With less than three minutes remaining, Gray led the 12-2 comeback by scoring six points on a 3-pointer, jumper and free throw, Martin added a dunk, and four free throws split between Mickey and Quarterman were the last four points that iced the game for LSU.

Tim Quarterman led the Tigers in scoring with 16 points (11 in the second half), five rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Keith Hornsby added 15 points and four rebounds. Jarell Martin posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds and also blocked six shots while Jordan Mickey matched that block total of six and added 14 points and six rebounds. Josh Gray only scored one point through the first 37 minutes of the contest, but picked the right time to get hot and led LSU down the stretch, ending the night with a total of seven points. The Tigers finished the night 45.8% from the field (22-48), 35.7% from the 3-point line (5-14) and 78.9% from the free-throw line (15-19) while holding South Carolina to just 34.4% shooting from the field (21-61). LSU was out-rebounded 40-32 and committed 14 turnovers while forcing 15.

Next up for the Tigers is a 1 pm contest at Mississippi State on Saturday. The game will be telecast on the SEC Network and the radio broadcast will be available on 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge.

In football recruiting news, the LSU staff will spend its last full day on the recruiting trail today before hosting several recruits on the final weekend before Signing Day. Yesterday the staff visited two big out-of-state targets in DE Prince Tega Wanogho, Jr. (6-8, 250, Elmore, AL) and and OT Chidi Valentine-Okeke (6-6, 305, Ludowici, GA). You might recall that both of these players are of Nigerian descent and hit it off well when they visited LSU. The two are not a package deal, but I can’t help but believe that if LSU lands one it might help with the other. Valentine-Okeke is expected to announce his decision Monday and both prospects are said to be down to LSU, Auburn and Alabama. Wanogho is not expected to announce his school of choice until a couple of weeks after National Signing Day.

Another prospect that LSU has turned up the heat on lately is DB Holton Hill (6-2, 184, Houston), and his announcement could come as early as tomorrow. For a while it looked like Hill was a lock to Texas, but LSU has made up a lot of ground and feels good about where they stand with the four-star cornerback and return specialist. For what it’s worth, Nola.com’s Jimmy Smith predicts that Tiger fans will receive some surprising good news when Hill announces tomorrow. 

There are also a couple of new in-state players to keep an eye on. One is an offensive tackle from my neck of the woods who I wrote about early on, Oshea Dugas (6'5", 300, No. 20 on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2015) of Northside High School in Lafayette. Dugas still doesn’t have an LSU offer, but if the staff misses out on a couple of their current OT targets I look for them to reach out to Dugas, and I think he would be a great get. The other relatively new in-state target who has been generating a lot of chatter of late is DE Joe Anderson (6'4", 240, No. 27 on our list.) of Riverside High School. The word is that Anderson has some work to do in the classroom and might receive a sign-and-place deal. In these situations, a player is often placed in a junior college and then signed once he becomes eligible. If Anderson has his academic qualifications worked out in time, he could count toward this year’s class, otherwise he will likely be part of the 2016 signing class.

Speaking of homegrown talent, today we’ll continue revealing our list of top in-state prospects for 2016 with another set of 10. Here we go…

The Countdown continues….
DandyDon’s List of Top Louisiana Prospects for 2016:

41. Audwin Williams (WR/ATH), 6'3", 180, Berwick
42. Caron Baham (ATH), 6'1", 190, John Ehret
43. Daniel Crosley (DE), 6'2", 250, DeRidder
44. Malcolm Roach (TE), 6'3", 245, Madison Prep
45. Matthew Beck (QB), 6'5", 205, Alexandria Senior High
46. L’Jarius Sneed (DB), 6'2", 195, Minden
47. De’jon Harris (LB), 6'2", 230, John Ehret
48. Mastephon Taylor (DT), 6'5", 275, McDonogh 35
49. Ja'Ceiry Linzer (LB), 6'3", 225, Ascension Episcopal
50. Zack Robert (DE/LB), 6'2", 220, Jesuit 

In other football news, the former high school coach of LSU quarterback Brandon Harris made some noise yesterday when he was interviewed on a radio talk show in Shreveport. As you can hear here (at about the 17:00 mark), Coach David Feaster expressed his displeasure with Harris sitting the bench while LSU’s passing game struggled and encouraged Harris to not return to LSU and instead enroll in a junior college for one year before choosing a different D1 school. Fortunately, Feaster was not successful in his attempt to sway Harris, who appears to be fully committed to making it work at LSU. I still believe his time will come. 

In women’s basketball news, LSU’s Lady Tigers return to action tonight when they host Ole Miss at the Maravich Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:05 p.m., and the game will be televised by the SEC Network. 

In closing, it was great hearing from many of you about the Mail Call I posted yesterday. I asked if you’d like to see more of that sort of thing, and your response was a resounding yes. My plan is to do those more often, perhaps even weekly. Thanks for all of your input. 

Reminder: Less than a week remains in our annual fundraiser, and we need your help. If you value these daily doses of Tiger News, please do your part to help assure the site will remain viable and subscription-free by pledging your support. Thanks in advance for your consideration. 

 

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