BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU coach Ed Orgeron's maiden signing class with the Tigers reflected his reputation as a strong recruiter — even if the Louisiana native acknowledged he wasn't pleased by some near misses in his home state.
"Obviously, we lost some guys at the end we're very disappointed in, but we feel like we have a great recruiting class," said Orgeron, who took over on an interim basis when Les Miles was fired four games into last season. Orgeron was hired on a permanent basis two days after a victory at Texas A&M in LSU's regular-season finale.
Among major recruiting analysts, LSU's class ranked in the top 10 nationally — no small feat for a coach who spent the entire regular season fending off negative recruiting by competing programs.
LSU's 2017 class was highlighted by defensive standouts at safety, linebacker, defensive end and offensive line. Orgeron also locked up a pair of promising quarterbacks, hoping to strengthen what has been a position of weakness for LSU the past three seasons.
But three top Louisiana prospects that LSU pursued hard — receiver DeVonta Smith of Amite, defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis of Monroe and linebacker Chris Allen of Baton Rouge — not only all left the state, but all went to rival Alabama, which LSU has not defeated since the 2011 regular season. Additionally, only eight of 23 signees were Louisiana natives.
"Obviously we have work to do and (Louisiana is) always going to be our primary area," Orgeron said.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: DB JaCoby Stevens of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. At 6-2, 200 pounds, Stevens demonstrated play-making ability on balls in the air and was a strong tackler against the run.
Best of the rest: Jacob Phillips, LB, Nashville, Tennessee; Tyler Shelvin, DT, Lafayette, Louisiana; Austin Deculus, OL, Cypress, Texas. Citing Phillips, Orgeron asserted, "We got the best middle linebacker in the country." That will be important with Kendell Beckwith heading to the NFL.
Late addition: DE K'Lavon Chaisson of Houston, Texas, chose the Tigers over Texas.
One that got away: Marvin Wilson, DT, Houston, Texas. The top-rated defensive tackle in the nation chose Florida State.
How they'll fit in: Linebackers will come in and play immediately, particularly Phillips because of a lack of depth. Chaisson gives them a successor to Arden Key, widely projected as a 2018 NFL first-round draft choice. Quarterbacks Lowell Narcisse of St. James, Louisiana, and Myles Brennan of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, will give new offensive coordinator Matt Canada options to choose from and push returning starter Danny Etling.
More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org
Posted on Thu, February 2, 2017
by By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer