It has to be a strange time to be a LSU football recruit. Many, if not most, of LSU’s current 2017 commitments decided to verbally commit to the Tigers with the idea that Les Miles was the head coach. Miles was recently fired after a heartbreaking loss to Auburn, though, and now everything is up in the air down in Baton Rouge.
Ed Orgeron is now the interim head coach, but there’s no guarantee that the Tigers will stick with him to be the full-time head coach heading into the next season. One has to imagine the LSU brass will conduct an extensive national search, with the idea in mind that LSU football is a big-time program and it deserves a big-time coach. Some would say that, despite his flaws, Miles was that coach for the Tigers, but that’s a completely different story.
How LSU’s remaining or future staff handles recruiting is vital from here on out, because nothing is worse for a recruiting class than a coaching change. It brings along with it chaos and many unanswered questions, so until LSU can answer those questions for its recruits, it’s going to have to tread lightly.
The class that Miles and his staff had put together before his firing was ranked No. 4 nationally and No. 3 in the SEC, so the stakes are certainly high. Keeping what looks to be another elite recruiting class intact is vital.
Keeping JaCoby Stevens — LSU’s highest-rated recruit — committed is just as important.
At least as far as the public is concerned he’s the Tigers’ biggest name. Stevens is a five-star safety recruit, ranked as the No. 2 2017 recruit at his position and the No. 3 player from Tennessee, according to the industry generated 247Sports Composite. The Composite also ranks him as the No. 29 overall player in America, though it’s worth mentioning that the 247Sports-exclusive rankings have him up a bit higher at No. 24.
No matter which way you slice it, Stevens is an elite recruit, so keeping him solid with the Bayou Bengals has to be the staff’s top priority. Whether it’s Orgeron or another head coach, having a player like Stevens headlining a recruiting class on national signing day is an incredible way to kick things off on the recruiting trail.
Stevens has been committed to LSU since August of 2016, notably choosing the Tigers over Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. He has 31 offers, which is nothing to scoff at, and schools such as Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Louisville, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon, Stanford and USC, among many others, were also on his offer list.
One thing that has to be worrisome to LSU is that Stevens has actually committed to the program twice. He first committed to LSU in September of 2015, but decommitted a few months later. According to Sonny Shipp of 247Sports, the reasoning behind the decommit was the uncertainty surrounding Miles and the staff. Obviously LSU was able to draw him back in, but one has to wonder how he’s going to react to the firing of Miles long-term, especially since it was a concern for him before.
It is worth noting that he has an official visit scheduled to LSU in November and the importance of that visit just can’t be overstated for the Tigers. It’s also worth noting that he recently told Kipp Adams of 247Sports that schools have started contacting him after the firing of Miles.
“Guys like Georgia contacted me,” Stevens said. “Actually, right after, literally right after the breaking news line came up on ESPN, Alabama asked for me to call and Facetime and talk to them. These guys are all coming back in and trying to sell that pitch again. Guys like Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, these guys are coming back in and trying to sell their pitch to me — want me to come and give them another chance.”
It’s important for LSU to remain in close contact with Stevens because other schools are going to put the full-court press on him. He’s one of the best overall recruits in the country and top-notch recruiters smell blood in the water down in Baton Rouge.
Making a huge impression at the official visit will be vital for the Tigers, and if Orgeron and his crew can pull out a win…even better. LSU will be taking on No. 1 Alabama with Stevens in attendance. There would be no better way for the Tigers to make a statement for the future than by beating Nick Saban and the defending champions — especially if LSU wants its future to include Stevens.