BATON ROUGE, La. -- Earlier we looked at LSU’s most glaring need in its 2017 recruiting class: linebacker.
However, that is certainly not the Tigers’ only position group that needed a talent infusion in this recruiting cycle. Here are six more important positions for this class and how the Tigers are faring at each with two weeks left until national signing day:
Safety: Defensive backs coach Corey Raymond seems to have hit the mother lode while looking to replace safeties Jamal Adams, who entered the NFL after an All-America junior season, and Rickey Jefferson, who started until breaking his leg at midseason. LSU has signed not only JaCoby Stevens (No. 26 on the ESPN 300 and the No. 3 athlete) and Grant Delpit (No. 57 overall, No. 4 safety), but both players already are on campus as early enrollees. The Tigers boast a number of returning safeties -- namely John Battle, who started seven games last season in Jefferson’s absence -- but it would hardly be a surprise to see the newcomers make an early impact.
Quarterback: No position makes LSU fans more uncomfortable than this one, but the Tigers have found a pair of freshmen who can upgrade the depth and talent at the position. In early enrollee Lowell Narcisse (No. 105 overall, No. 5 dual-threat QB), they have a guy who can become the running threat that new offensive coordinator Matt Canada seems to like at quarterback. In commitment Myles Brennan (No. 116 overall, No. 5 pure passer), they have someone whose skills fit a spread passing attack. This will give Canada a wealth of options in 2018 once Danny Etling and Brandon Harris have left the program.
Offensive tackle: There aren’t many true tackles on LSU’s roster and two of the guys who are -- fifth-year senior K.J. Malone and junior Toby Weathersby -- don’t have much time left in college. Enter early enrollee Austin Deculus (No. 14 overall, No. 5 offensive tackle), who at this point is ESPN’s highest-rated prospect in the LSU class -- an honor that might not last through signing day if defensive tackle Marvin Wilson (No. 7 overall, No. 1 DT) ends up choosing the Tigers. Nonetheless, LSU has added two huge tackle commits in 6-foot-6 Deculus and 6-8 Seth Stewart, plus a pair of ESPN 300 guards in Edward Ingram and Saahdiq Charles.
Defensive tackle: Speaking of Wilson, the nation’s highest-rated uncommitted prospect could help turn this into a monster class for LSU’s defensive line. Ed Orgeron’s staff already has a commitment from Tyler Shelvin (No. 18 overall, No. 2 DT) and three-star Neil Farrell. If they can add targets Wilson and Phidarian Mathis (No. 20 overall, No. 3 DT), that would make quite the haul for the Tigers. LSU is not in bad shape up front even after losing ends Lewis Neal and Davon Godchaux. They signed a strong class in 2016, led by Edwin Alexander and Rashard Lawrence, and still have Christian LaCouture and Greg Gilmore returning for their senior seasons. However, you can never have enough depth inside, and the Tigers have the chance to add some serious talent to the numbers they already have with this class.
Running back: The Tigers are fine at running back for 2017. Derrius Guice is coming off an incredible sophomore season, while Darrel Williams and Nick Brossette also are more than capable. Recruiting is all about looking ahead though, and it seems likely that Brossette will be the only member of the trio left at LSU this time next year. Although the Tigers missed out on target Cam Akers when he committed to Florida State, they still have a commitment from Baton Rouge’s own Clyde Edwards-Helaire (No. 219 overall, No. 20 running back) and might not be done yet. Orgeron’s staff has been pursuing Louisianan Travis Etienne (No. 113 overall, No. 13 RB), although several suitors still are in the picture including Clemson, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
Wide receiver: We touched on this subject last week when Malachi Dupre jumped to the NFL after his junior season: LSU’s receiving corps is only OK from a depth perspective and is entirely unproven behind senior D.J. Chark. Although youngsters Dee Anderson, Drake Davis and Stephen Sullivan already have a season under their belts, the opportunity exists for a newcomer to make an immediate impact. That’s what early enrollee Mannie Netherly (No. 192 overall, No. 26 wide receiver) and junior college commit Stephen Guidry (No. 9 on ESPN’s JC50) hope to do. Orgeron’s staff also is pursuing Louisianan Devonta Smith (No. 225 overall, No. 32 WR), although the Tigers face heavy competition for his services.