football Edit

LSU 2019 class projections features a slew of top Louisiana prospects

LSU is sitting at 19 commitments but still is after some critical pieces to round out the 2019 class. Among the needs remaining are running back, wide receiver, defensive line and defensive back.

The de-commitment from Marcus Banks stings as the team is looking to replenish its depth in the secondary in a year where it could lose multiple starters and upward of four total defensive backs — not to mention that LSU signed only Kelvin Joseph a year ago. The team would like to add more on offense in the form of a second running back, a second wide receiver and potentially a second quarterback, if the fit is right.

There are still big names out there on the defensive side of the ball, particularly up front where LSU holds a commitment from one defensive lineman in Joseph Evans. With Devin White likely to depart for the NFL and Tyler Taylor facing an uncertain future with the program, a third linebacker could also be a possibility. Edge-rusher, too, is an area that the team would like to upgrade in this 2019 haul.

Here’s how Sam Spiegelman sees the Tigers closing out the class:

RB: John Emery Jr.

Confidence: 51 percent

Rationale: Orgeron has brought up adding a second running back to the fray time and time again, and often he states that he believes the best running back in America should play for LSU. In that case, I don't expect LSU to look much further than Destrehan and Rivals100 prospect John Emery Jr., who has been a priority in this 2019 class. Emery visited for Georgia game and LSU has found a comfortable groove with the All-American. His family is slowly buying into what Orgeron is selling. There's optimism in Baton Rouge that LSU can pull off the flip if this trend continues.

WR: Devonta Lee

Confidence: 78 percent

Rationale: Lee has taken in the past three LSU home games and is really feeling the push from the staff at this point. The coaches have made the 4-star athlete feel like a priority in the 2019 class and have made it a point to explain where he fits into the offensive blueprint. While LSU has kicked it up a notch, other major contenders are seemingly falling by the wayside. Still, no decision will come until February.

DB: Christian Williams

Confidence: 39 percent

Rationale: Williams refuses to indicate how committed he is to Alabama, never using a term “100 percent.” At this point, LSU is recruiting the Rivals100 cornerback the hardest, and he’s expected back on campus for a second time in four-week stretch when the Tigers host the Crimson Tide on Nov. 3. Williams is eyeing a February signing date, which gives him time to take his official visits to both schools. LSU has a high degree of confidence it can pull off the flip.

DL: Ishmael Sopsher

Confidence: 45 percent

Rationale: Family, coaching and an opportunity to compete for championships are at the top of Sopsher’s priority list. At LSU, he remains close to home in Amite, La.; would play under coach Ed Orgeron, who works hands-on with the defensive linemen daily and has been impressed with the team’s 7-1 start to the season. Alabama is of course a major player here and this will go down to the wire. However, if Sopsher truly aims to play alongside his brother Rodney, then LSU remains the obvious choice.

DL: Rodney Sopsher

Confidence: 45 percent

Rationale: Rodney’s current offers include LSU, Grambling and Louisiana-Monroe, and the plan remains to play with his brother Ishmael at the next level. Until Alabama, Auburn or Texas put a preferred walk-on offer out there, LSU is the clear-cut favorite. Rodney is currently enrolled at a junior college in Iowa, so a homecoming would mean even more to the family. Playing 45 minutes away from Amite, La., is a sought-after opportunity.

QB: Knox Kadum

Confidence: 33 percent

Rationale: LSU may not be able to sign a full 25-man class, but that’s the plan as of right now. There are still high-priority targets left in the class such as Rivals100 linebacker Nakobe Dean, who will officially visit LSU in December, his last trip before a decision. Dean's teammate, Raydarious Jones, is also a favorite of Corey Raymond’s. Jones is certainly a candidate to be added to the secondary at cornerback. However, Orgeron is keen on bringing in a second quarterback to pad the team's depth, and if that's the move, then Georgia’s Knox Kadum is the leading candidate. Steve Ensminger will visit Kadum for his senior night and continue to evaluate the 3-star passer, who is expected to officially visit for the Alabama game. He could join the class soon after.

Jimmy Smith's projections:

RB: John Emery

Confidence: 51%

Rationale: LSU continues to push Emery and there are signs that he is more receptive than he was just a few weeks ago. He enjoyed his visit to LSU for the win over Georgia and is said to be impressed with the positive steps the offense is making. Emery's biggest concerns with LSU was the stability of the program and coaching staff, but being No. 4 in the nation following a run of big victories has eased those concerns quite a bit.

WR: Devonta Lee

Confidence: 70%

Rationale: Lee is getting really close to the staff, current commits and players at LSU, and although there is quite a bit of time between now and his signing in February, all signs point to Lee staying close to home at LSU. He has frequented the LSU campus quite a bit this season and has plans for at least one more trip before taking his official visit to LSU in January.

DL: Ishmael Sopsher

Confidence: 51%

Rationale: LSU is fighting Alabama for the state's best defensive lineman and it looks like it could go either way at this point. Sopsher recently visited Alabama causing quite the stir from uneasy LSU fans, and rightfully so. Sopsher sees opportunities to see the field at both programs and the recent pitch from Alabama put them in a good position to swipe him from under LSU's feet, according to sources. This battle may go down to the wire, with LSU doing any and everything they can to keep him home.

Rodney Sopsher

Confidence: 40%

Rationale: Rodney Sopsher is not a lock to LSU even if his brother commits, as the family weighs options that may suit him better, according to a source close to the family. Alabama has expressed interest in helping Rodney find a school that may be a better fit, as they are not willing to offer him a scholarship like LSU recently did. The two brothers love the idea of playing together, but it is not something that is set in stone, even if Ishmael elects to play at LSU.

CB: Jay Ward

Confidence: 45%

Rationale: LSU cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond appears to have zeroed in on Kentucky commit Jay Ward, whom is scheduled to take an official visit to LSU for next week's contest with Alabama. The 6-feet-1, 170-pounder fits the bill of a LSU cornerback, and with the Tigers looking to add at least one more commit to the group, Ward may be your best bet at the moment. The Tigers are still pursuing other prospects at the position, so this spot could easily go to someone else, but I feel Ward is the most likely candidate at this stage of the process.

DL: Myron Warren

Confidence: 40%

Rationale: LSU is eager to find more athletic defensive linemen in this class, and while Warren does not currently hold an offer, that may change during a scheduled visit that he has next week. The only concern for the Tigers is whether Warren has the frame to bulk up to 280 pounds or so, with Ed Orgeron looking to get an up-close look during the visit. Warren's explosiveness intrigues the staff, along with his tenacity, so I am anticipating that an overture will be extended at some point, and he would likely waste little time in accepting it, according to a source. We have seen this on an annual basis in Baton Rouge: Foster Moreau, Deion Jones and Russell Gage are all late in-state offers. Warren may be next.