NCAA Baseball Championships:
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2/7/19 5:30 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
LSU’s 2019 signing class is in the books after the Tigers signed six players yesterday to complete its 25-man class. The six include WR Devonta Lee, cornerbacks Maurice Hampton and Jay Ward; OT/TE Ray Parker; and DE/OLBs Soni Fonua and Desmond Little. With those on board, LSU’s class finishes at No. 3 in Rivals’ Team Rankings, No. 3 in USAToday’s Composite Team Rankings, No. 4 in 247Sports Team Tankings, No. 5 in 247Sports Composite Team Rankings, and No. 7 in ESPN’s Team Rankings. There are always some folks who focus on the ones who got away, but that’s not how we roll at DandyDon. Instead, in today’s report we’ll give you our annual grades by position for the class as a whole and work in a few thoughts on how Signing Day Part 2 transpired.
Offensive Line: B
LSU signed a total of five offensive linemen highlighted by elite top-100 guard Kardell Thomas, 4-star guard Anthony Bradford, and four-star tackle Ray Parker. Heading into Signing Day, I felt like LSU needed to add another tackle and was happy to see Parker make it into the class. He had been committed to LSU since before the early signing period but there was some concern that he would be too much of an academic risk for LSU to sign. In his Signing Day press conference, Ed Orgeron announced that Parker will in fact be eligible coming out of Ruston High School and credits Parker’s coach for getting him on the right tack. It should be noted that Parker will start his LSU career as a TE but is ranked as the nation’s No. 12 OT prospect and we project him to move there early in his collegiate career.
With Joe Burrow and Myles Brennan returning, LSU didn’t have a great need at quarterback, but it’s important to sign at least one in each class. LSU did that by landing four-star dual-threat Peter Parish out of Phenix City, Alabama. This is a solid get for the Tigers.
Running Back: A+
This is where LSU absolutely hit it out of the park at its biggest position of need. LSU signed the state’s top two running backs in John Emery, Jr. and Tyrion Davis but these guys aren’t elite just at the local level; they’re elite at any level. Emery, a 5-star, is the nation’s second best RB, whereas Davis is ranked No. 8. Getting two top-ten backs in one recruiting class, and getting them both from your own backyard, is virtually unheard of. The fact that this was arguably LSU’s most immediate position of need makes this a truly exceptional haul.
Wide Receiver: A+
Honestly, this wasn’t a huge position of need since LSU has so much returning talent there, but you want to sign at least a couple of receivers in each class, especially when there are elite talents in your state. That’s exactly what LSU did in signing a pair of Tangipahoa Parish standouts, Kentwood’s Trey Palmer and Amite’s Devonta Lee. These two four-stars are the two highest-rated receivers in Louisiana and are great gets.
Defensive Line: C+
When asked about biggest remaining needs after the early signing period, Ed Orgeron said defensive linemen, defensive linemen, and more defensive linemen. That need was made far less urgent when Rashard Lawrence and Breiden Fehoko announced that they would be returning to LSU, but it was a big need, nonetheless. LSU entertained three big-time DLs in the last two weekends who were all high-priority targets for filling that need – Mississippi’s Byron Young and Charles Moore, and Louisiana’s own Ishmael Sopsher – but missed out on each of them. The worst part of it all was seeing Alabama sign Sopsher, only adding to the false perception that the Tide can swoop in and steal any Louisiana prospect it wants. That stung, but what softens the blow just a bit is knowing that LSU landed Saika Ika at the end of the early period to go along with Joseph Evans, and then landed two DE/OLBs yesterday in Soni Fonua and Desmond Little. I sincerely believe those two guys will be disruptive edge rushers under Ed Orgeron and Dave Aranda’s tutelage.
LSU signed a trio of linebackers highlighted by five-star Marcel Brooks, the nation’s No. 2 OLB. The other two, Donte Starks and Kendall McCallum, are a formidable pair of inside linebackers. Solid haul.
After signing only one defensive back in last year’s class, LSU knocked it out of the park this year. The Tigers signed four DBs this time around including a generational talent in CB Derek Stingley, Jr., the No. 1 prospect in the nation and the highest ranked LSU defensive signee since Patrick Peterson. Adding dual-sport standout Maurice Hampton yesterday is big not only for Ed Orgeron and this class but for Coach Paul Mainieri, too. He’s considered to be an elite outfielder and will play both football and baseball for LSU.
There’s really a lot to like about this class. The nation’s No. 1 player; the best running back tandem in the country; the two best wide receivers in the state; the second best OLB in the nation; and as many five-star signees as any team other than Georgia. And that’s without even mentioning the nation’s No. 2 kicker who should be a great replacement for Cole Tracy. Another thing to note is that LSU signed nine of the top 10 players on our list of Top LA Prospects, and eight of the top 10 on 247Sports’ list. Folks, nobody does any better than that in terms of keeping top talent at home. Alabama, by comparison, signed only four of its state’s top 10 prospects and lost the top two to Georgia. Hats off to Ed Orgeron and the entire Tiger Staff for a job well done.
Turning to hoops, the LSU men’s basketball team found itself in a familiar position on the road —down by double digits in the second half and looking to make a dramatic comeback. Thanks to incredible second-half performances from Naz Reid and Tremont Waters, the Tigers did just that in a hard-fought 92-88 victory in Starkville. Here’s how the Tigers improved to 18-4 overall and 8-1 in conference play with a huge road win.
Nothing came cheap early. In fact, both LSU and Mississippi State made the other work for any and every point scored. The Tigers took an early 6-1 lead three minutes in after Waters made a beautiful move to the hoop followed by a steal and dunk on the ensuing possession. Waters remained hot, had four steals in the first six minutes and hit 3-of-4 from the field for LSU to take a 12-5 advantage. But Waters had to come out for most of the first half after picking up his second foul in the first 10 minutes, and LSU’s offense struggled without him. A 17-0 run for the Bulldogs gave Mississippi State a 25-16 lead midway through the first half before LSU began chipping away and eventually tied the game at 29 with three minutes to play in the half. Another strong Bulldog run gave Mississippi State a 42-34 lead at the break.
The Bulldogs built a double-digit lead within the first five minutes of the second half. LSU transitioned into the diamond press to try and cut into Mississippi State’s lead like the Tigers did against Missouri and Arkansas in the previous two ballgames. LSU has owned the offensive boards this season (Top 20 in the country), but Mississippi State recorded 10 offensive boards and matched pace with the Tigers in second-chance points. Waters, who scored 26 points in the win, drained a deep 3-pointer before hitting a jumper in the lane to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to three with eight minutes remaining. Reid stepped up his game in the second half, as well. He converted close-range shots and hit a 3-pointer during a run in which LSU made nine consecutive baskets. A Bigby-Williams put-back made it a 76-75 game in favor of the Bulldogs with five minutes to go. With 2:38 to play, a high-arching shot in the lane by Waters gave LSU its first lead since the 10:45 mark of the first half. Tied at 83 with 20 seconds remaining, Waters created a good look and Reid had another close-range opportunity, but the Tigers could not convert and headed to overtime.
In overtime, the Tigers took an 86-85 lead midway through the extra period with an inside look to Bigby-Williams. Another key play came when Reid converted an “and-one” with a minute remaining to give the Tigers a two-point advantage. He followed that big basket with his biggest of all, a clutch 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining in the period to all but seal the Tiger victory. Reid led the Tigers with 29 points in the win.
Next up, LSU returns home for a contest at 1 p.m. Saturday against Auburn. That game can be seen on ESPN2.
• Yesterday I mistakenly wrote that I would start running my Q&A with LSU baseball Coach Paul Mainieri today but I meant to say Friday. Sorry for the teaser. I’m finishing up the transcription today and will share Part 1 in our next daily dose.
• Speaking of baseball, registration for LSU Baseball Youth Summer Camp is now available online. If you or someone you know has ambition to play ball as a Tiger, these types of camps are a great way to get exposure. For more information or to register, visit lsubaseballcamps.com
• 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. On to the 23rd year!
2/6/19 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It’s here, folks – National Signing Day Part 2. To stay abreast of today’s Signing Day action, be sure to check out our Commitments/Signees Tracker and refresh it throughout the day. Also be sure to follow @DandyDonLSU on Twitter. As soon as a player’s signed LOI is received by LSU and announced, we’ll indicate it with a check next to the player’s name on our list of commitments/signees and we’ll note the time that his papers were received. Of course, we’ll also tweet the news.
So just as a refresher, here’s what we’ll be watching for today:
Do we land the two from Amite: DT Ishmael Sopsher and WR/S DeVonta Lee?
I would be shocked if Devonta Lee doesn’t choose LSU when he makes his announcement at around 12:45 p.m today. As for Ishmael Sopsher, his announcement will come a little later and could very well go either way. I wish I had a definitive answer for you, but I don’t, and I’m not sure anyone does at this hour. One thing is certain: If LSU misses out on Sopsher, it won’t be from a lack of effort. I understand Orgeron was in contact with him until well past my bedtime last nigh without a definative answer being given.
Does Christian William flip to LSU or Miami?
Up until Monday, confidence was high that LSU would flip cornerback Christian Williams from Alabama. But then came a strong late push from Miami. What they have going for them is a promise that Williams would be their premier cornerback in the signing class, and a seemingly quicker path to the playing field. Will this be enough to turn Williams to the Hurricanes? We think it will, and we should know for sure early on. Williams is expected to announce his decision at 8 a.m. I would love to see Williams in this class, but if he chooses Miami, as expected, I wouldn’t see this as a failure on LSU’s part. To the contrary, it would be an understandable effect of LSU signing three cornerbacks in the early period including the nation’s No. 1 prospect, Derek Stingley, Jr., and being in a strong position to sign Maurice Hampton today.
What about the two DTs from Mississippi?
LSU entertained Alabama commit Bryon Young and Charles Moore over the weekend and there is still some hope that LSU lands one of the two. But to be quite honest, chances seem slim. I look for Young to stick with Alabama and Moore to choose Auburn or Mississippi State, but I would love to be wrong about that. To be quite honest, if Williams and Young are indeed two of the first LSU-related announcements of the day (see Times of Interest below), things are likely to start on a disappointing note for Tiger Fans.
Does CB Maurice Hampton choose LSU over Auburn?
I feel confident that cornerback Maurice Hampton, Tennessee’s top-rated football prospect, will give LSU fans good reason to celebrate at a little after 9:30 when he chooses LSU over Auburn. And as a dual-sport athlete, he’ll give Tiger fans good reason to monitor June’s Major League Baseball draft where he’s projected by some to be a fairly high draft pick. That said, the word is that it would take an exceptionally large sum of money for Hampton to sign a MLB contract and I predict he’ll be wowing fans in Tiger Stadium and at The Box for years to come.
Backups? Full class?
Right now, LSU has 19 signees and it seems very likely that LSU will land Soni Fauna, Lee, and Hampton. That would put LSU at 22. Sopsher would put LSU at 23. Even if Williams signs with LSU, the Tigers would still have one more spot to fill. A couple of guys to keep in mind should the numbers work out are CB Jay Ward and TE Garmon Randolph. Other options include keeping spots open to use for a transfer or to backfill with an early enrollee from the 2020 class.
It’s hard to anticipate what surprise might come. After all, if we knew, it wouldn’t be a surprise. That said, a couple of things that would justify a surprise at this point are if LSU ends up with one of the two Mississippi DTs or if some unexpected target emerges, or reemerges, late in the game. We’ve seen some crazy things happen on Signing Day and I’m not ruling out anything.
Here are your LSU NSD Times of Interest (CT)
(These are all approximations, and often the announcement comes 10 or 15 minutes past the stated time.)
Christian Williams - 8 a.m. CT (Miami)
Byron Young - 8 a.m. CT (Bama)
Garmon Randolph - 9 a.m. CT
Maurice Hampton - 9:30 a.m CT
Charles Moore - 9:30 a.m. CT
Ray Parker - 10:30 a.m. CT
Jay Ward - 12:05 p.m. CT
Devonta Lee - 12:45 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Ishmael Sopsher - 1 p.m CT (ESPN2)
In other recruiting news, LSU has added a couple of preferred walk-ons to this class: Linebacker Tayte Langley (6-3, 240) of Iota High (La.) and running back Josh Williams (5-9.5, 180) of Houston’s Kincaid School. I really don’t know anything about Williams, but I do know that Langley is the son of former O-lineman Trey Langley who played at LSU in the late 90s and then went on to play in the NFL for the Redskins. I say welcome aboard to both of these young men! As I’ve said before, landing walk-ons is a no-risk, win-win situation as they count to neither the signee limitation nor the 85-scholarship limit.
Now, before leaving the topic of football, it’s time to reveal the Top-5 on our list of Top Louisiana Prospects for 2020.
Top LA Football Prospects for the Class of 2020
(For the complete list, click here.)
5. TJ Finley (QB) 6'6" 233, Ponchatoula – Big and strong QB who has tremendous zip on the ball; Throws an accurate, catchable ball and throws the ball well on the run; Shows ability to run when needed; Big body who is tough to bring down and can make the difficult throw when under pressure. LSU commitment.
4. Koy Moore (WR) 6'1" 170, Archbishop Rummel – A polished route runner who displays sure hands; Gets in and out of his cuts without any wasted motion and maintains his speed; Tremendous after the catch, often out-running defenders; Seems to enjoy blocking downfield.
3. Kayshon Bouttee (WR) 5'10" 175, Westgate – Explosive WR who displays true track speed; Separates himself from DBs with ease; Has good leaping ability going up and catching balls over defenders; Changes direction quickly and can run away from anyone; Will also be an asset in the return game. LSU commitment.
2. Jacobian Guillory (DT) 6'2" 331, Alexandria Senior High – Very strong player at the point of attack who overpowers his opponent; Has excellent feet for a man his size and bends well at the knees; Not just a block eater, but a defender who can push back the line of scrimmage and make plays in the backfield.
1. Jaquelin Roy (DT) 6'4", 306, University Lab – Big man who has really quick feet and a great burst; Uses his hands well and sheds blockers allowing him to live in the backfield; Plays with a high motor from snap to whistle never quitting on a play; Shows outstanding speed for a man his size allowing him to run down plays; Speed is not the only aspect of his game, also uses brute strength to collapse the pocket. LSU commitment.
We’ve also added numbers 61-100 to our list of Top LA Prospects for 2020, as well as a few we call Best of the Rest. Please note that this list is definitely a work-in-progress and will be updated frequently as we monitor players’ senior seasons, recruitment, and camp performances.
Turning to basketball, the LSU men’s basketball team will look to get back to its winning ways in a road contest against Mississippi State tonight. Make no mistake about it – the Tigers are up for a hellacious week, but this is the type of challenge that will reveal what this LSU team is truly made of. The Tigers will face two teams in Mississippi State and Auburn who have been in the Top 25 for most of the season. It just so happens both teams were knocked out of the Top 25 this week. With tonight’s Mississippi State encounter, LSU will go up against a 16-5 Bulldog squad that’s been “hit or miss” the last two weeks. Mississippi State has suffered a lopsided loss to Kentucky and been edged out by Alabama, but the Bulldogs have also recorded impressive wins against Auburn and Ole Miss. We’re starting to see a ton of parity in the SEC, and teams have begun knocking each other off. Tennessee (8-0), Kentucky (7-1) and LSU (7-1) remain at the top of the league, but Mississippi State (4-4) will be looking to gain some ground by knocking off the Tigers at home. And the Bulldogs have the firepower to do so. Tremont Waters might be one of the best, if not the best, guard in the SEC, but Quinndary Weatherspoon is third in the league in scoring. And like Waters, he’s done it for multiple years at his school. If you want to slow down Mississippi State, it starts with Weatherspoon. Coming into this game, the Bulldogs have the third best 3-point field goal percentage in the league, so look for LSU to change its defensive approach up. The Tigers allowed certain Arkansas players open shots and that burned them last Saturday. With the Bulldogs being a strong shooting team, the Tigers can’t let open 3-pointers become their downfall for a second game in a row. Look for LSU to make defensive adjustments and come out swinging against one of the better teams in the conference tonight. The game tips off at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.
A few tidbits in closing:
• Yesterday I touched base with LSU head baseball Coach Paul Mainieri who was gracious enough to spend about 30 minutes on the phone with me for an exclusive Q&A that I’ll begin running tomorrow. It’s always a pleasure to speak with Mainieri because he’s such a straight-shooter.
• Today is the last day of our annual fundraiser. My family and I extend our most sincere thanks to all of you who have shown your appreciation for these daily doses of Tiger News by making a donation. We appreciate it more than words can express. If you value you what we do here at Dandy Don and have been meaning to make a pledge but haven’t yet done so, now’s your chance. After today, you won’t see these solicitations in our daily reports until after Thanksgiving.
• Lastly, please remember to keep your browser on our LSU Commitments/Signees Tracker to keep up with today’s Signing Day action. You’ll need to refresh it frequently to keep up with the changes. And if you use Twitter, be sure to follow @DandyDonLSU for updates throughout the day.
This web site is not officially affiliated with Louisiana State University. Opinions expressed herein are the property of Donald Long, Scott Long and friends, not Louisiana State University.