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DandyDon is proud to recognize David Toms as a great ambassador of the Tiger Nation.

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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...

Saivion Smith
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. 



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2/5/16 6:03 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

It was great hearing from so many of you yesterday about LSU’s outstanding 2016 signing class. Almost everyone I heard from agrees with me that this class is extremely talented and well-rounded, but I did hear from several folks who are concerned that LSU only signed two linebackers after not signing any last year. That is a very valid concern that I would like to briefly address. Let me put this out there first: Yes, I would have felt a lot better about LSU’s linebacker situation had they signed Erick Fowler, as was expected. However, even though LSU only signed two pure linebackers (Michael Divinity and Rahssan Thornton), they did sign defensive end Andre Anthony who could be a DE/LB hybrid in Coach Aranda’s multiple front defensive scheme and Devin White who was recruited as a running back but could probably see the field earlier as an inside linebacker. (White stated earlier that he would play wherever he’s needed.) The Tigers also added preferred walk-on Layton Garrett of West Monroe High, whom I think might surprise some people. It’s also worth noting that DE/LB Sci Martin still has not signed with anyone. Martin’s leaders are believed to be LSU and TCU and he should sign with his school of choice next week. 

With so much top talent coming in, and 18 veteran starters returning including Heisman Trophy candidate Leonard Fournette, I have no doubt that the 2016 Tigers have enough talent to compete favorably against anyone in the nation. Evidently, I’m not alone in thinking that way. Yesterday ESPN tweeted the top-5 in its Football Power Index (FPI) which ranks LSU as the No. 1 team in the nation. ESPN describes it’s FPI as a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward. While I never put too much stock in such rankings, it’s nice to see that others recognize the great potential of the 2016 Tigers.

Moving on, it’s time for our annual poll asking Which incoming LSU football signee(s) will make the biggest impact in the 2016 season?” Please take a moment to vote now. You can vote for as many players as you’d like, but you can only vote once. Thanks in advance for your participation. 

Yesterday I reviewed the last few years’ polls and was reminded of how hard these things are to predict. In 2013, the top-six were Kendell Beckwith, Frank Herron, TréDavious White, Quantavious Leslie, Tashawn Bower and Jeryl Brazil. As it turned out, four of the six never saw the field as freshmen. In 2014 and 2015, we did a little better. 2014’s top-five were Leonard Fournette,  Malachi Dupré, Trey Quinn, Clifton Garrett, and Jamal Adams, and 2015’s were Kevin Toliver,  Arden Key,  Donté Jackson, Derrius Guice and Maea Teuhema. (Sidenote: Reviewing the old poll results reminded me that Beckwith began his LSU career as a DE, and that LSU’s LB situation would look much different today if Clifton Garrett had lived up to expectations.)

Turning to basketball, the LSU men’s team now finds itself tied for first place in the SEC at the midpoint of league play after Texas A&M lost to Vanderbilt last night. The Tigers return to action tomorrow with a home contest against Mississippi State that tips off at 5 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2. A win would put them in sole possession of first place. More on tomorrow’s game in our morning report. 

As for LSU’s Lady Tigers, they have now lost seven of their last eight games after to falling to No. 11 Mississippi State, 71-52. More on that game can be found here.

Today’s closing tidbits:

• I have something to pass along to those of you thinking about heading out to Lambeau field for LSU football’s 2016 season opener at Wisconsin. One of my longtime readers, whom I spoke to at the Bash, is putting together a travel package for Tiger Fans that might be of interested to you. Information about it can be found here

• As I did yesterday, I’ll leave you with another great article to go along with your morning coffee. This one’s by Chandler Rome of The Advocate, and it’s titled, After a hectic, meticulous recruiting process, ‘someone big’ – LSU –fell in love with Lindsey Scott Jr.

• Don’t forget to vote in our poll! Which incoming LSU football signee(s) will make the biggest impact in the 2016 season?



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2/4/16 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Well, it didn’t end up exactly like we thought it would, but there’s a whole lot to like about the exceptional class of 23 players LSU signed yesterday. As I always say, what’s important is not how highly a class finishes in the national rankings (LSU’s finished a very respectable 3rd in 247Sports’ Composite), but rather how well it meets team needs. This class did extremely well in that regard. Of course, there were a few Signing Day hiccups, which we’ll get to in a bit, but first let’s take a look at a few of the many things worth celebrating about this outstanding class:

• In terms of individual talent, this class is as strong as any in recent memory. In fact, LSU tied the all-time national record for the most ESPN 300 prospects in a single class with 19. Of these 19, three were five-stars and 16 were four-stars. That’s a serious amount of talent. 

• With LSU signing only two defensive ends, no defensive tackles and no linebackers in last year’s class, the biggest need this year was front-seven defenders. The staff addressed this need by signing eight quality players including three big-time DTs, two pure LBs, and three DEs (at least one of which could play a DE/LB hybrid role in Coach Arranda’s multiple-front defense). LSU could add another DE/LB to the class when Sci Martin of McDonough 35 announces his school of choice next week.

• LSU locked up the state like never before with 16 of its 23 signees coming  from Louisiana, including all 12 of the top-12 on our list of top in-state prospects. Furthermore, two of these players – Rashard Lawrence and Cameron Lewis – came from the north-east part of the state where LSU has had trouble retaining top talent in recent years. 

• LSU really racked up along the offensive line by signing four “big uglies.” These include the nation’s No. 2 rated offensive tackle in Willie Allen of John Curtis and the top-rated offensive guard in Louisiana, Donavaughn Campbell of Ponchatoula. The other two offensive linemen who signed were Jakori Savage of Bay Minette, AL, and the “surprise player” of the class – Lloyd Cushenberry III of Dutchtown High School. At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Cushenberry has great size and is a solid addition to the class. They say games are won in the trenches, and LSU certainly upped its game in that area yesterday.

• The three wide receivers LSU signed in the class – Dee Anderson, Stephen Sullivan and Drake Davis – are arguably the best group of incoming receivers in the nation. You might have noticed that LSU WR commit Da’Monte Coxie did not sign yesterday. As alluded to in my previous report, Coxie has academic issues and needs to get his classwork in order to become eligible. The hope is that he can do so soon and join the team before the fall semester.  

• In addition to the 23 players signed, LSU added two preferred walk-ons – linebacker Layton Garnett (also from the NE part of the state) and kicker Bailey Reborn of St. Thomas More. These two young men won’t show up in the overall signee count and rankings, but definitely help fill big positions of need.

All in all, this LSU class is one of the most talented and well-rounded of any I’ve ever seen, and it’s even more amazing when you consider what Coach Miles and his staff had to overcome to assemble it. Just a little over two months ago, Les Miles was fighting for his job. A few weeks later he lost his defensive coordinator, and then two weeks before Signing Day he lost his recruiting coordinator. To overcome all of that and end with a class like this one is simply amazing.

As I mentioned above, there were a few hiccups yesterday that prevented this class from finishing even stronger than it did. The biggest negative of the day came when LSU’s prized linebacker commit, Erick Fowler of Manor, TX, had a change of heart and decided to stay close to home and sign with Texas. LSU could have really used another linebacker in this class, and for him to change his mind at the last minute like that was very disheartening. Another loss LSU suffered was when cornerback target Trayvon Mullen chose Clemson over LSU. These losses hurt, but let’s not let them overshadow a remarkably bright day. It’s a great time to be a Tiger!

For more on this year’s signing class, see this transcript of Coach Miles’ comments from yesterday’s presser.

Today’s closing tidbits:

• There’s a rumor circulating that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is leaving LSU. I want to let you know that LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette, Coach Les Miles, and Cam Cameron himself have all strongly denied the rumor and indicated there is no truth to it whatsoever. From what I understand, LSU is in the process of drafting a new contract for Cameron which should be ready soon.

• Yesterday was the last day of our annual fundraiser and my family and I would like to thank you for making it a success. To all of you who answered the call and pledged your support, please accept our most sincere gratitude. With your continued support, I look forward to dishing out a daily dose of Tiger news for years to come.

• I spoke to Mike Detillier about getting his thoughts on this year’s class and hope to have another Q&A to publish with him in the near future. As they say, stay tuned.

• Lastly, here’s a great article written by LSU WR signee Drake Davis called “My Signing Day Decision” that I’m sure you will enjoy.



 

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