2/6/16 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
First, I want to thank all of you who voted in our poll asking, “Which incoming LSU football signee(s) will make the biggest impact in the 2016 season?” With about 8,400 votes cast, the top vote getters were DT Rashard Lawrence (28%), LB Michael Divinity (20%), RB/LB Devin White (8%), and DBs Kristian Fulton (6.24%) and Savion Smith (6.14%). In today’s report, we’ll begin a series in which we briefly profile these five Tigers, starting with Smith. Here we go...
DB, 6-1, 175, IMG Academy (Florida)
(5th in our poll with 6.4% of the vote)
Instinctive and explosive are two fitting adjectives to describe 5-star shutdown cornerback Saivion Smith. The early enrollee from IMG Academy possesses a ton of other qualities needed to be the next great defensive back at LSU, but what strikes me most is his natural playmaking ability. At IMG Academy, where the competition was stiff, Smith scored in a variety of ways including returning his own forced fumble, taking interceptions the distance and returning multiple blocked punts/kicks for touchdowns. I won’t go as far as to call Smith the next Tyrann Mathieu because the Honey Badger is a once in a lifetime playmaker, but after watching Smith score in a variety of ways at the high school level, that comparison definitely comes to mind. Coach Miles played the Honey Badger as a freshman, and with Smith’s natural-born instincts I think there’s a good chance this early enrollee will see early playing time as well.
For those interested in checking out his awesome playmaking skills, see Smith’s video highlights in our Media Gallery.
In tomorrow’s report, we’ll take a look at fellow five-star cornerback Kristian Fulton who came in at No. 4 in our poll.
Before leaving the topic of football, I want to let you know that I am in the process of getting Mike Detillier’s thoughts on LSU’s signing class and hope to post Part 1 of our two-part Q&A in tomorrow’s report, just in time to go along with your Sunday morning coffee. Part 1 will focus on the defensive signees, and part two will look at the offense and address the question of whether LSU has the talent needed to make a run for the title in 2016.
In men’s basketball, the Tigers (14-8, 7-2) look to continue their winning ways in conference play as LSU hosts Mississippi State (9-12, 2-7) this evening at 5 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN2. Like Auburn, Mississippi State has not had a good season so far, but the Bulldogs are a better team than their 2-7 league record would have you believe. Their most recent loss was a nail-biter at home to Alabama (82-80), and five of Mississippi State’s seven conference losses have been by six points or less. Offensively, the Bulldogs are averaging 76.6 points per contest. They’re led by senior forward Gavin Ware (6’9” 260) and freshman guard Malik Newman (6’3” 190), who are averaging 16.3 and 13.2 points per game, respectively. It would be great to see LSU get a huge lead in this game, which would allow frontcourt backups Aaron Epps, Elbert Robinson and Darcy Malone to get extended minutes. More conference experience would go a long way for those three.
Just like the Auburn game, this is another contest LSU cannot afford to lose, as the Tigers really need to finish strong at home. LSU is currently tied for first in the SEC after Texas A&M’s loss to Vanderbilt, but there are still nine regular season games remaining, and many will be very tough to win. The four road games in particular – (South Carolina (19-3), Tennessee (11-11 but beat UK last Tuesday), Arkansas (11-11 but 10-3 at home) and UK (16-6) – will be extremely challenging. The Tigers will need to step up their game and find a way to win at least one of these away games if they want to finish with a 20-11 regular season record, which would likely get them an at-large berth. Of course, they also need to take care of business at home, starting this evening.
In softball news, one week from today we’ll be discussing the outcome of the Tigers’ first game. Yesterday Coach Beth Torina, along with seniors Bianka Bell, Kellsi Kloss and Sandra Simmons, juniors Bailey Landry and Sahvanna Jaquish and sophomores Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper, met with the media ahead of the start of the 2016 campaign that has LSU ranked No. 3 in preseason polls. Last year, the Tigers jumped out to an unprecedented 25-0 start and the program’s first No. 1 ranking before advancing all the way to the Women's College World Series. As special as that season was, this year’s team appears to have enough talent to match or surpass it. LSU returns every position starter except center fielder A.J. Andrews from the highest-scoring team in school history and is loaded in the circle as well. In fact, Coach Torina has said that this year’s pitching staff – featuring all-SEC right-hander Carley Hoover, fellow sophomore Allie Walljasper, junior Baylee Corbello and highly heralded freshmen Sydney Smith – is the best she’s ever had. LSU’s season gets underway next Friday at 5 p.m. when the Tigers host Ohio State in the 2016 Tiger Classic.
Today’s closing tidbits:
• Yesterday I mentioned that one of my longtime readers is putting together a travel package for LSU football’s season opener against Wisconsin in Lambeau Field and that generated a lot of response. I want to point out that the flyer I linked to yesterday was for the trip originating from Baton Rouge or New Orleans, but he is also offering a one that originates from Shreveport. Information on these packages can be found here.
• With LSU’s baseball season set to get underway in less than two weeks, I want to let you know that I’ve updated our LSU Baseball Roster and to go along with this previously posted preseason depth chart.
• The sixth-ranked LSU gymnastics team roared to a season-high score and defeated No. 8 Arkansas last night, 197.425-196.150, in front of 7,779 fans. With the win, LSU improved to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in league competition.
• Lastly, I’ll be updating our Ticket Exchange page this weekend, so if you have any LSU tickets for sale please let me know.