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1/9/17 5:50 am CST

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Good morning, Tiger Fans,

With National Signing Day just a little over three weeks away (Feb. 1), today we’ll take a look at LSU’s class and how it might end up. The Tigers’ 2017 class currently contains 19 commitments and is ranked No. 7 in the nation according to 247Sports. Two SEC teams are currently ranked higher than LSU – Alabama at No. 1 and Georgia at No. 3. Finishing in the top-5 of the rankings is great and something a program should always strive for, but as I’ve written before, and as my late father “Dandy Don” Long used to often say, where you finish isn’t nearly as important as how well you meet team needs. In today’s report, we’ll take a look at LSU’s needs by position and I’ll give you a few general predictions on how things might play out. 

LINEBACKER

Current Commitments: (1) After losing a commitment from Monty Rice last week, LSU only has one linebacker in this year’s class – Patrick Queen of Livonia. This is especially concerning since LSU only signed two linebackers last year and none the year before.

Targets: LSU’s top two linebacker targets with Louisiana roots – Dylan Moses and Chris Allen – both committed to Alabama. As an early enrollee, Moses has already moved in at Alabama and is obviously a lost cause for LSU, but Allen is not. In fact, I’ve been hearing very encouraging things about LSU’s chances of flipping the former Southern Lab star. The Tigers also have several out-of-state linebacker prospects on their radar including three who have already scheduled visits. Ellis Brooks of Richmond, Va. is visiting a week from today, Willie Gay of Starkville, Miss. will visit the following weekend, and Nick Smith of Orlando, Fla. will visit the last weekend before Signing Day. Then there’s also Oklahoma commit Jacob Phillips of Tennessee. Phillips has already taken all of his official visits, but the staff is trying to line up an unofficial visit for him and his family. Someone else to watch is pass-rusher extraordinaire K’Lavon Chaisson of Houston, though he is technically listed as a weak-side defense end and will be listed below in that category.

Prediction: (+3) The Tigers needs to add at least two more linebackers to this class, preferably three. I feel the most confident about LSU’s chances with Gay, followed by Allen and Phillips. As for Brooks and Smith, we’ll know more about where things stand with them after their visits. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see another target or two emerge between now and signing day.

RUNNING BACK

Current Commitments: (1) LSU has a commitment from one running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire of Catholic High (Baton Rouge). The Tigers also have a commitment from fullback Tory Carter of Leesburg, GA, but for this write-up, I’m only considering tailbacks. LSU would be fine at running back next year regardless of what happens from here on out with the class, but really needs to sign two this year for the future’s sake.

Targets: LSU’s primary target was Cam Akers of Clinton, Miss., but since his recent commitment to Florida State, LSU has turned its attention to in-state four-star Travis Etienne of Jennings. Etienne is currently scheduled to visit LSU on the last weekend before Signing Day. Another dark horse candidate to keep an eye on is four-star Todd Sibley, who is currently committed to Matt Canada’s old team, the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Prediction: (+1) I look for Etienne to commit when he visits LSU later this month, and he would be a great addition to this class. For what it’s worth, last year at this time when I requested input for our list of Louisiana’s top 2017 prospects, Etienne was recommended by far more than any other player. 

DEFENSIVE LINE

Current Commitments: (4) LSU has commitments from tackles Tyler Shelvin of Notre Dame (Lafayette, La.) and Neil Farrell of Mobile, Ala., as well as ends Aaron Moffitt of Catholic High (Strength coach Tommy Moffitt’s son) and Justin Thomas of Spanish Fort.

Targets: LSU would like to add at least two more D-linemen, with five-star Marvin Wilson of Houston being LSU’s biggest target. Right up there with Wilson is Louisiana’s own elite DT, Phidarian Mathis of Neville. As for defensive ends, LSU is still in the hunt for DE/LB hybrids Chaisson (mentioned above in the LB part) and Markeviest Bryant of Cordele, Ga. 

Prediction: (+2) I’m cautiously optimistic about LSU landing both Wilson and Mathis, which would give LSU one of its best DT hauls ever. There’s also a decent chance LSU lands either Chaisson or Bryant, with Chaisson currently being the most likely. 

WIDE RECEIVER

Current Commitments: (2) LSU currently has commitments from Stephen Guidry of Hinds CC (the top-rated JUCO WR in the country) and Manny Netherly of Crosby, Texas. 

Targets: With senior Travin Dural moving on and the future of juniors Malachi Dupré and DJ Chark in question, LSU needs to add at least one more WR to this year’s class. The Tigers’ biggest remaining target is Davonta Smith of Amite, the No. 1 player on our list of Top LA Prospects, and he’ll be visiting LSU this coming weekend. Other targets are Marlon Williams of Mobile, Ala., who is currently committed to USC but will also be visiting LSU this coming weekend, and Louisiana’s own Racey McMath of Edna Karr.

Prediction: (+1) At this time, I’d have to say Alabama leads for Smith, but LSU is very much in the picture and could sway things in the Tigers’ favor during his visit. If LSU doesn’t end up signing Smith, look for LSU to land McMath. Actually, depending on how numbers shake out at other positions, I wouldn't be shocked to see LSU take McMath even if they land Smith. 

OTHER

Current Commitments & Targets: With two solid quarterbacks, four solid offensive linemen, one cornerback and two of the best safeties in the country already in this class, not to mention athlete Jontre Kirklan who projects as a cornerback and return specialist, the Tigers would be fine even if they only concentrated on the four positions we’ve already covered above (LB, RB, DL, WR). But if the Tigers are to add anyone outside of those positions, the top target would be safety Todd Harris of Plaquemine. Two other in-state prospects to watch are athlete Justin Harris of East Ascension, who could play TE or DE, and cornerback Cheyenne Labruzza of Albany. Another player who I’ve been hearing some chatter about is TE Jake Paulson of Louisville.

Prediction: (+1 or 2) I think Justin Harris ends up in this class. Of course, if Todd Harris wants on board, LSU would certainly make room for him despite already having two outstanding safeties committed. if LSU ends up needing to add a body, LaBruzza would be a strong candidate. 

Earlier I stated that LSU would likely sign 26 players in this year’s class, so you might notice that my numbers above don’t add up. I’m now hearing that LSU could possibly sign 27 or 28 players depending on whether a player or two decides to take a gray shirt. My predictions would add 8 or 9 commits to LSU’s current class of 19. What I’m thinking is that just about every year there’s an academic casualty or a last-minute loss in recruiting, and I wouldn't expect this year to be any different. When it’s all said and done, this will be a very solid top-5 recruiting class that does an outstanding job of meeting team needs.

Before leaving the topic of recruiting: I want to remind you that we’re working on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2018. If you know of an in-state D1 prospect who you would like for us to consider listing, please let me know. I would especially like to hear from LA high school football coaches who have top prospects on their teams. Stats and video links are encouraged and appreciated. We’re shooting for having our list ready for publication by the end of the month. 

Moving on to women’s basketball, LSU improved to 13-3 overall and 2-1 in the SEC with a thrilling 53-52 win at Arkansas. The Lady Tigers rallied late in the game and took their first lead, 52-51, with just 8.2 seconds remaining. Here’s how those final seconds went: Arkansas’ Malica Monk hit a free throw to tie the game at 52 and then LSU called a timeout with 2.7 seconds left. Alexis Hyder was fouled before LSU could toss the ball in and was sent to the line with the score tied, 52-52, with 2.7 seconds remaining. After missing the first shot, she hit the second to give the Tigers a 53-52 lead. On the final possession of the game, Chloe Jackson deflected the ball on a three-point attempt to secure the Tigers’ win. For more on the game including video highlights, see this article on LSUSports.net. Next up for the Lady Tigers is a home contest against Missouri on Jan. 12. Missouri is 11-6 overall; 1-2 in the SEC after losing to Alabama yesterday on a 3-pointer at the buzzer. 

Today’s closing tidbits:

• In this article, The Advocate writes that SEC athletic directors voted last month to give the league commissioner’s office broader authority to reschedule postponed games. This is obviously a direct response to the controversy that surrounded this past season’s LSU-Florida scheduling debacle. 

• The college football season has not officially ended but some 2017 predictions are already beginning to roll in. Yesterday, Athlon Sports released “A Very Early College Football Top 25 for 2017” and pegged LSU at No. 12. The Tigers were their second-highest ranked team from the SEC behind “you know who” at No. 1. Georgia checked in at No. 13 and Auburn at No. 14. Florida and Tennessee were No. 16 and No. 17, respectively. 

If you value staying up to date on LSU sports and recruiting with these daily doses of Tiger News, there’s no better way to show it than by donating to our fundraiser. Thanks in advance for your consideration.

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1/8/17 5:48 am CST

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Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU men’s basketball team followed last week’s strong finish against Missouri by laying an egg at home against Mississippi State in a 95-78 loss. With very little ball movement on offense and its well-documented defensive struggles, LSU fell to 9-4 overall and 1-2 in conference play with its first home loss to Mississippi State since 2011. 

Here’s a quick recap of yesterday’s rough outing:

LSU’s shooting was about as cold as the weather outside. Meanwhile the Bulldogs got open shots, took advantage of turnovers and won the battle in the paint. Mississippi State did its damage inside early, scoring 22 points in the paint in the first half alone. A contributing factor there was Aaron Epps picking up two fouls within the first four minutes. The Bulldogs (a team that’s said to be one of the slower teams in the conference) outran and out-hustled the Tigers, scoring 13 points off of turnovers, compared to zero LSU points off turnovers. All of that and an 11-0 run opened the door for a 52-33 halftime lead for Mississippi State. LSU’s defense once again was lacking as Mississippi State shot a staggering 59 percent from the floor in the first stanza.

Unfortunately, the second half didn’t get much better. Mississippi State went on an 8-0 run early, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to bring its 3-point shooting percentage to 60 percent and its lead to 25 points. LSU showed some fight late in the second half, but it was too little too late. With four guards on the floor, the Tigers were able to pull within 13 points with a little under two minutes remaining, but that was as close as they would get.

There's no sugar-coating this - LSU basketball is not playing like a well-coached cohesive unit should. This shows in every aspect of the game, but especially on defense. If opponents make the extra pass, LSU's defense is very slow at closing in on the open man. This is resulting in way too many open shots, and even teams like Mississippi State who struggle offensively are having offensive breakthroughs as a result. The Bulldogs had just 58 points in their home loss to Alabama this past Tuesday, but against LSU, they were just six points shy of that in the first half alone. Not surprisingly, Mississippi State set a season-high with 95 points. LSU has spurts where they play tough defensively, but for whatever reason, they don't put it together for an entire game. Ultimately, the responsibility falls on the head coach's shoulders, and Johnny Jones just isn’t getting through to this team. I heard from several fans after the game saying it’s time for a change in Baton Rouge, and it’s hard to argue against that line of thought. I know Jones bleeds purple and gold, but he's not been able to meet expectations as a head coach. The results in four and a half seasons have been just average with only one NCAA tournament appearance and no wins in that appearance. The way this season is shaping up, it appears this team will be his worst in five years, which is mind-boggling when you see NBA-caliber prospects like Antonio Blakeney, Duop Reath, Brandon Sampson and Skylar Mays on this team. 

That’s enough ranting for the day. I am a Tiger through and through and I hope to see Coach Jones turn this season around, but at this point I’m counting the days to the start of baseball, which is at 40, in case you’re wondering. 

Here are the game’s video highlights and here’s the complete boxscore.

Here’s hoping the Tigers are able to get back on a winning track this Wednesday against a struggling Texas A&M team that just lost its third straight SEC contest. The Tigers and Aggies will tipoff at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in College Station. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

Turning to football recruiting, several LSU targets took part in yesterday’s Army All-Star game and had solid outings. Wide receiver Davonta Smith of Amite (No. 1 on our list of Top LA Prospects) had two catches for 47 yards, including a 39-yarder he almost turned into a touchdown. Smith will be visiting LSU next weekend. Linebacker Jacob Phillips of Tennessee had a big game, too, logging four tackles, including one for loss. Fellow linebacker Willie Gay of Mississippi was only credited with one tackle, though he was a force to reckon with and did a solid job of filling holes and preventing big gains. Gay will be visiting LSU on the 20th. Also worth noting is that kicker Joseph Bulovas of Mandeville (No. 50 on our list of Top LA Prospects) nailed field goals of 34 and 49 yards. Bulovas is currently committed to Georgia Tech. 

One LSU linebacker target who will no longer be visiting LSU is Tennessee commit Will Ignont. Yesterday he tweeted that he is “110%” committed to Tennessee and will be shutting down his recruitment. Ingot was expected to visit LSU this coming weekend.

Jumping back to hoops, the LSU women’s basketball team is in Fayetteville, Ark., this weekend for today’s SEC matchup with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena. The game will be streamed on SECN+, available on www.WatchESPN.com and via the Watch ESPN app, and can be heard on The LSU Sports Radio Network (107.3 in Baton Rouge).  The Lady Tigers are 12-3 overall; 1-1 in the SEC, and are coming off a thrilling 78-67 win over Florida Thursday evening that showed how strong LSU can be when both Chloe Jackson and Raigyne Moncrief are firing on all cylinders. The duo accounted for 54 of the 78 points (69%) and 14 of the team’s 23 steals (61%). Arkansas (11-4; 0-2) is looking for its first SEC victory after starting league play with losses to Ole Miss (73-64) and No. 4 Mississippi State (59-51). 

As I do most Sundays, I’ll leave you with a good read to go along with your Sunday morning coffee. It’s by the Advocate and it’s called, “A year after father's death, Lowell Narcisse set to pen new chapter — this one's at LSU.

Have a great day, Tiger Fans, and please remember: If you value these daily doses of Tiger News, please consider showing it by donating to our annual fundraiser, which ends February 1. To find out why it’s important and how to help, please read this message. Thanks in advance for your support.



 

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