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2/5/19 5:35 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

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I don’t know about you, but between the stress of trying to decipher what teenagers are going to do on Signing Day and these spring-time temperatures we’ve had the last few days, I’ve got a strong desire to be far away on a creek bank isolated from technology. Yesterday my phone was buzzing with calls, texts, and emails from several folks either wanting information on LSU’s chances with remaining targets or sharing rumors they had heard. Despite it all, my predictions remain just about the same as yesterday, with a couple of minor changes. I put the odds of LSU signing Amite DT Ishmael Sopsher at 55% yesterday, meaning I felt like LSU had a slight edge coming off the official visit but that it could go either way. I’ve heard nothing to make me feel otherwise at this point, so I’m sticking with that. I do, however, feel a bit different about the two Mississippi DTs. I put LSU’s chances with Byron Young at 45% yesterday, but I would drop that considerably today. I get the feeling he sticks with Alabama. As for Charles Moore, I said the vibe I was getting wasn’t a great one, and I stand by that, but I was told by someone I trust not to count LSU completely out with him or Young. Bottom line, if LSU is going to add additional DTs in this class, besides Soni Fonua who committed over the weekend, its best chance appears to be with Sopsher. As for the four guys I said I feel most confident about (Fauna, WR/S Devonta Lee, CB Maurice Hampton, and CB Christian Willams), I still feel the same, though I heard a lot of late night chatter about Miami pushing hard for Williams and I see that 247Sports’ Director of Recruiting, Steve Wiltfong, put in a recent “Crystal Ball” pick for the Hurricanes. A couple of guys who seem to be on the proverbial “back burner” and might come into play if the numbers are right include TE Garmon Randolph and CB Jay Ward. 

As has been the case for the last dozen or so Signing Days, you’ll be able to monitor all the action by keeping your browser on our Commitments/Signees tracker throughout the day and by following DandyDonLSU on Twitter.

As is often the case on a Tuesday, yesterday I received a few questions as follow-ups to what I wrote on our Monday Morning Mail Call. Let me quickly address those…

• Several of you asked why I didn’t mention LSU TE commit Ray Parker of Ruston when predicting how LSU’s signing class would finish. That’s just because I’m hearing he’s likely to end up at a smaller school that is willing to take a risk on him qualifying or at a junior college, as I alluded to last week.

• With regard to LSU’s heartbreaking loss to Arkansas, our Mail Call touched on Tremont Waters’ alley-oop attempt and the fact that Coach Wade didn’t use a timeout before it. A few of you commented yesterday that a more concerning issue was allowing Arkansas so many open three-point shots. Coach Will Wade addressed that issue with the following statement. “We left a couple kids open. The numbers said to leave them open, and they hit a few. We left some of those guys open by design, and they took advantage of it. That's on me.”  

Speaking of LSU men’s basketball, the Tigers remain in the national polls this week despite the home loss to Arkansas, though they did fall a bit. LSU checked in at No. 21 in the Associated Press media poll and No. 22 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. LSU travels to Starkville on Wednesday (tomorrow) to take on Mississippi State at 8 p.m. at the Humphrey Coliseum. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle98.1 FM). Look for more on that game in our morning report.

In other men’s basketball news, Tremont Waters has been named as one of ten candidates for the 2019 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. Waters is averaging 15.1 points per game (over 19 points per game in league play), 6.0 assists per game, and 3.0 steals per game (first in SEC and fifth nationally).

In women’s hoops, LSU got back on the winning track last night with a 61-51 win over Missouri. The Tigers were led by Ayana Mitchell who finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season. Faustine Aifuwa, Shanice Norton, and Khayla Pointer each finished with 10 points to help the Lady Tigers improve to 13-8 overall and 4-5 in the SEC. Here’s the full recap by LSUSports.net.

Now let’s close out with the reveal of another five profiles for our list of Top Louisiana Football Prospects for 2020. So far we’ve posted numbers 15-60, which you can find here. Today we tap the top ten with a look at 10-6. Tomorrow we’ll reveal the top-five as well as the complete top-100 and a few we call Best of the Rest. 

Top LA Football Prospects for the Class of 2020
(For numbers 11-60, click here.) 

10.  Jalen Cook (WR) 6’0”, 180, Walker – Outstanding athlete who looks like a natural WR; Has great ball skills with sure hands making every play look routine;  Also, a great basketball player; Will Wade already has a scholarship offer in for Jalen. 

9.  Joel Williams (ATH) 6’2”, 188, Madison Prep – Long, rangy athlete that makes plays a number of ways; Safety looks to be the safest bet for him at the next level; Solid tackler who loves to hit; Reads plays quickly and reacts to the football; Good frame to add weight; Could see him lining up in the box.

8.  Quincy Brown (WR) 6’3”, 170, Destrehan – Not a burner but a long smooth strider who can create separation; Has tremendous hands catching the football away from his body; Uses his body well to shield defenders in traffic and go up and make the catch; Blocks really well on the edge and finishes blocks.    

7.  Taiwan Berryhill (OLB) 6’2”, 200, St. Augustine – Long player who eats up ground quickly, not taking false steps; Reacts to plays quickly, shedding blocks and finding the ball carrier; Always plays fast, flying around the field, but always under control; Great form tackler who is aggressive and eager to hit; Has great frame to add additional weight.

6.  Ashaad Clayton (RB) 6’0, 200, Warren Easton – Elusive ball carrier that changes direction well; Great runner between the tackles has good vision and hits the hole hard; Has the ability to make guys miss, but has no problem running through tackles; Also shows good hands making catches out of the backfield.

Closing Tidbits: 

• Here’s a good read by Athlon Sports called “LSU Football: 3 Reasons for Optimism About the Tigers in 2019.” It’s subhead reads, “Joe Burrow will have an experienced offensive line and plenty of playmakers to work with this fall.”

• And here’s another good read by my friend Jim Kleinpeter, who’s been helping the Advocate with their baseball coverage: Meet LSU's next slugger, Saul Garza: A hard-hitting catcher coming back from knee surgery

In closing, I’d like to remind you that tomorrow is the last day of our annual fundraiser. DandyDon.com has been dishing out a daily report for 22 years. That’s a long time, folks. I hope to keep these daily doses of Tiger news coming for many more years, but I can only do it with your continued support. If you value this site and haven’t yet done so, please read this important message and consider donating today. After tomorrow, I won’t bug you about this again until late November.

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2/4/19 5:30 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

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LSU’s 2019 recruiting class picked up another pledge yesterday when defensive end Soni Fonua announced his commitment to the Tigers after a successful official visit. Fonua (6-4, 265) is a JUCO DE from Salt Lake City, Utah, who prepped at the same school as recent LSU DL signee Siaki Ika and chose LSU over offers from Oklahoma State, Nebraska, UFC, and others. The more I learn and see of Fonua, the more I’m convinced he’s s great get for the Tigers. He moves so well for a player his size. (Check out his video highlights.) I share more thoughts on him and his commitment, what it means for LSU’s signing class, and other topics including baseball and basketball in today’s Monday Morning Mail Call.

DANDYDON.COM MONDAY MORNING MAIL CALL

From David: Saw your tweet about the JUCO DE committing to LSU. I haven’t heard a lot about this 3-star and I hope I’m wrong but I have a sneaky feeling this means things aren’t looking good with LSU’s other defensive line targets. What’s your take?

My Response: I understand where you’re coming from, David, but I don’t think that’s neccessarily the case. I’ve said all along that I think LSU is hoping to take at least two of the four DLs who visited over the weekend (Sopher, Young, Moore, and Fonua) and would gladly take three. They really like Fonua, and I like him too. He played at the same high school as LSU signee Siaki Ika and the two are very well-coached prospects who bring a lot of energy and passion for the game. I think he’ll be a great addition to a defensive line that is taking on quite a Polynesian flavor with Breiden Fehoko, Ika, and now Fonua. But back to your question, I still feel like LSU has a very legit shot of signing either Sopsher or Young, and landing both is not out of the question.

From Billy: For your mailbag, I’ll go ahead and ask the obvious. Who’s your final six for Signing Day?

My Response: Well, I went back and reviewed my answer to this same question in last week’s Mail Call, and surprisingly, I haven’t changed much since then. Here’s where I’m at today with six spots remaining.

I feel confident about these four being in the class, especially the first three.

1. Soni Fonua (100%)
2. Maurice Hampton (90%)
3. Devonta Lee (90%)
4. Christian Williams (85%) 

After that, I’ll go with

5. Ishmael Sopsher (55%)

6. For the sixth spot, I think LSU would love it to be Bryon Young, and I’ll put his chances at 45% after what I hear was a great weekend visit. I think if LSU misses on either Sopsher or Young, then TE Garmon Randolph makes it into the class. If LSU misses on both, then I think we might see a spot left open.

From Chad: Where does LSU stand with these guys?

Nathan Pickering
Charles Moore
Bryan Young
Jared Harrison-Hunte 

My Response: Pickering is off the board after re-affirming his commitment to Mississippi State. Harrison-Hunte never visited LSU, so I don’t anticipate him being part of the class. I’ve heard Bryan Young’s LSU visit this weekend went very well, but the vibe hasn’t been as positive about Moore’s. 

(Turning to baseball…)

From Chad: In reading your reports a few weeks ago, it seemed like a strong case could be made for LSU’s pitching staff looking like the best in the entire country, on paper. Now, based on the news from the last week (ex. Major injury), I’m fearful it could be pretty bad. Plus, wasn’t Hess better as a closer than a starter? Didn’t he have a rocky season last year? (Or is my memory just failing me?) And, now he’s the “ace?” I’d love to know if/why I shouldn’t be panicking about the pitching staff. 

My Response: Understandable questions, Chad, but let me start by assuring you there’s no need to panic. Zack Hess’ injury is not expected to be longterm (knock on wood), so I’m assuming the “major injury” you’re referring to is the news of AJ Labas being out for the season. That news was not wholly unexpected, as Mainieri expressed a lot of uncertainty about Labas’ status during Media Day and was still very high on his pitching staff. Part of that is because LSU returns Hess and Eric Walker who have each been very effective starters, but it’s also about three highly heralded newcomers who are generating a ton of excitement – Landon Marceaux, Jaden Hill, and Cole Henry. When I last spoke to Mainieri, it sounded like Marceaux was in line to be a weekend starter and the other two would start midweek games, but since then, the competition has tightened as all three have thrown really well. And that’s not even mentioning Ma'Khail Hilliard who was a very good weekend starter most of last season. Granted, he is dealing with an injury of his own, but the fact that he will likely be used in a bullpen role once he returns to health says a lot about LSU’s starting depth. As for your question about Hess being the ace, two things to keep in mind. He was absolutely electric at times last year as a starter, and his only issue was consistency. At Media Day, Mainieri made it very clear that Hess will be the Friday night starter for the entire season, with no consideration given to moving him to the bullpen. He said Hess showed great improvement over the summer, is much more consistent than before, and looks like a potential first-rounder. Unless his groin injury turns out to be more serious than expected, LSU’s pitching staff still looks exceptionally strong.

From Cole: I saw your write up on the unfortunate situation with Labas and it reminded me that I haven’t heard anything about Storz in a while. Do you know the scoop on him? Is he still battling injuries?

My Response: Storz is still recovering from his shoulder injury, but the last I heard is that he could return by late April or early May if things go as planned, which would be right at about the mid-point of SEC play. 

(Turning to basketball…)

From Chuck: Scott: Do you think this loss to Arkansas might just be a wake-up call. I think had the Tigers pulled it out, it may have given the team too comfortable of a feeling. Sorta like a risk taker at your work, he becomes more comfortable with each risk and no bad consequences. I believe they were playing with fire and were finally burned. I also believe this result will be a valuable lesson learned that will pay rewards down the stretch. Just my opinion. They are still exciting to watch.

My Response: I agree, Chuck, this team is awfully fun to watch, even in a heartbreaker like that one. And yeah, I’m with you on that being a needed wake-up call, and Coach Wade alluded to that too when he said they’ve been walking a tight rope for about two weeks and when you do that you’re eventually going to fall. If they had of won as they did in Missouri, they might very well have had a false sense of confidence in thinking they can play half speed for much of the game and still have success. While we’re playing what-ifs, though, just imagine what would have happened had Tremont Waters and Marlon Taylor been successful on that last alley-alley-oop attempt? Don’t get me wrong, that was a very unwise decision, but man would it have brought the house down! LSU’s remarkable comeback would have plastered the airwaves, and LSU basketball fans would still be on cloud nine today.

From Kerry: As always, thank you for your site as it is as sure as my morning cup of get up and go. In reference to the hardwood, I'm really excited about what Coach Wade has going! In hindsight, just as Coach Wade alluded to, I would've liked to see him call a timeout in that situation but in the moment with Tremont Waters on the controls...if we make that basket it's a different topic today. Still coming from behind in two of the last three isn't a recipe for success. You know, when football season ended I immediately started a countdown to next season but this Will Wade team is gonna be fun to watch coming down the stretch. I believe they are going to be responsible for some dreams of other teams to come crashing down in March. If we can just find a way to stay in the game instead of falling behind these Tigers will win some more games. Streaks end for the best in team sports. I can't wait to see how they respond. My guess they will come into the next games fighting like Tigers. You?

My response: Couldn’t have said it better myself, Kerry. This Tiger team has shown its resilience time and time again, and I can’t wait to see how they respond this Wednesday at Mississippi State. Like you, I believe they’ll come out fighting. Between these Tigers, football recruiting, and the imminent start of LSU baseball, it’s a great time to be a Tiger!  

That’s it for today. Thanks to all who chimed in. Stay tuned for the resumption of our list of Top Louisiana Prospects for 2020, as we’ll publish numbers 10-6 tomorrow and the top-five and complete list on Wednesday.

Lastly, please note that our very important annual fundraiser is quickly coming to a close and will end in two days. If you enjoy these daily doses of Tiger news and have been meaning to pledge your support, please take a moment to do so today. If you have already answered the call, my family and I sincerely thank you. To find out how and why to help, please read this important message. Thanks in advance for your consideration.



 

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