|Will Priest Willis come from AZ to be a part of "DB U"?|
LSU has been stuck on 22 commitments for a while now, and it seems pretty clear that they're targeting only a select few for those final few spots. If LSU closes the way they'd like to, and the way I think they will, then this class will finish up as one of the tops in the nation, without question. When you factor in the way this class meets the needs of the program, specifically at quarterback, defensive line and in the secondary, then you have to consider it a home run for LSU's staff. But first thing's first….LSU needs to close strong. And here are the top five most likely targets left on the board:
DE Tim Williams – University HS: Many recruiting services rate Williams as the top prospect in the state of Louisiana, and the speedy defensive end has plenty of big time offers. It's tough to get a decent vibe on Williams. On one hand, he seems very willing and open to leaving the state, especially to the schools in Florida. On the other hand, most of the recruiting experts I trust insist that LSU will win out in the end. His family is reportedly on LSU's side and would like to see him stay close to home. On the field, LSU makes a ton of sense. He fits the bill as a smaller, quicker defensive end that LSU likes to employ and the opportunity for early playing time is there if BarkeviousMingo and Sam Montgomery leave early for the NFL as expected. For now, Williams seems content to let his recruiting process play out. If his actions are any indication, he recently cancelled a visit to Miami and has been an unofficial visitor for LSU's first two games this season. That's certainly a good sign.
LB Kendell Beckwith East Feliciana HS: Beckwith seems to be a consensus Top Five player in Louisiana this year, with the obvious exception of this site's rankings. Beckwith is the only outside linebacker that LSU is pursuing for this class, he seems to like that fact. Beckwith's recruitment has been focused on LSU and Alabama for some time now, and the momentum lately seems to have swung in LSU's favor. Beckwith does not have a concrete timeline for making a decision but has hinted that he may decide sometime during the season after taking official visits to bothTuscaloosa and Baton Rouge. Alabama has several linebackers committed, and they took several last year as well. Meanwhile, LSU took six linebackers last year and many of them are already making an impact on the field. So either way, Beckwith will join a crowded young depth chart. His decision will come down to where he's most comfortable, and that increasingly looks like LSU.
DT Greg Gilmore – Hope Mills, NC: The defensive tackle from North Carolina has consistently named LSU his leader for several months now. However, I'm becoming less and less confident that Gilmore actually signs with LSU in February. Gilmore has visited LSU just once but he did so without his mother. Meanwhile, his mother did accompany him on his trip to Florida and is said to significantly favor the Gators. The common thought is that once Gilmore's mother takes a trip with him to Baton Rouge, LSU will roll out the red carpet and she'll love it. Then, she'll give Gilmore her blessing to pull the trigger for LSU. But a few scheduled visits to LSU have failed to take place for various reasons, and now it looks like he won't make it back to Baton Rouge until his official visit sometime during the season. Gilmore is an integral piece of this class for LSU, which desperately needs some quality defensive tackles. This piece from PalmettoSports.com, dated 9/12/12, outlines Gilmore's visit schedule:
Gilmore will take an official visit to Florida September 22nd and to LSU November 3rd. "I'll commit November 5th," Gilmore said. "I'll be done with it by then." He could take other visits prior to his commitment but is unsure of which games he could attend. Gilmore did not name a favorite.
That schedule seems to favor LSU, but I'm now in the "I'll believe it when I see it" category. Of all the schools Gilmore is considering, LSU is the farthest away from home and that is a concern, especially when momma is heavily involved in the decision.
TE Deondre Skinner – Patterson HS: The Patterson tight-end has been committed to Arkansas for several months now, but his performance at LSU's summer camp earned him an offer from LSU, and the Tigers' staff has steadily increased the pressure on him. With Arkansas struggling out of the gate this season and with nobody knowing who will lead their program after November, is there a better team to try and turn a recruit away from than the Hogs? Skinner seems to be warming up to LSU, and he was in attendance last Saturday to take in the Tigers' game versus Washington. The question regarding Skinner concerns available space in the class. LSU already has tight-ends Desean Smith and Logan Stokes, a junior college player, verbally committed. Would LSU take all three? Though it's early in the season, youngsters Nic Jacobs and Dillon Gordon are playing fairly well as blocking tight-ends for LSU. So perhaps a blocking tight-end from the junior college ranks is not a big need anymore, and perhaps Stokes will be encouraged to look elsewhere. That's just pure speculation and an attempt to "connect the dots" by me. Come February, I think Skinner signs with LSU.
DB Priest Willis – Tempe, AZ: Wills is probably the highest rated of the "Final Five" on LSU's board, and he's also the least likely to sign with the Tigers. Most considered Willis a lock to end up in USC's class, but the Trojans filled up and seemingly don't have the room. That's when I started to really buy into LSU's chances with Willis. Willis was scheduled to visit LSU last month but could not make it due to a death in the family. He is scheduled to take his official visit for the weekend of the Alabama game in early November. Will the big-time atmosphere of that weekend and the allure of "DB U" be enough to pull him away from the West Coast? It's certainly possible, but I still think unlikely. UCLA seems to be the biggest competitor for Willis right now; although, I wouldn't completely rule out USC either.
I have long considered Texas WR Ricky Seals Jones to be a longshot for LSU. The one-time Texas commitment seemed destined to ultimately end up back in burnt orange. His recruitment has been one of the more bizarre that I have seen recently. However, he remains uncommitted and has consistently had LSU on his list of schools that he is considering and hopes to visit. Well, per an article (requires sub) by Gerry Hamilton of Hookem.com that came out Wednesday evening, Texas is no longer recruiting Ricky Seals-Jones. That blows things wide open for the ultra talented athlete. This will be an interesting recruitment to follow over the next few months but based on this latest news, I expect LSU to be right in the middle of it.
LSU is certainly recruiting other prospects too. Guys like DB Tahaan Goodman, WR Marquez North, DE Robert Nkemdiche, DL Jaynard Bostwick, DT Justin Manning and S Tony Conner are all receiving attention from LSU's staff, but they all seem less likely to end up as Tigers than the guys I've tabbed the Final Five. It seems that LSU would find room for just about any of those guys; however, space is getting pretty tight.
Could some other in-state prospects emerge if LSU misses out on the likes Williams, Beckwith, etc? I think it's possible in that scenario; however, I don't see that scenario as all that likely.
One last note: UCLA has been recruiting LSU commitment Hayden Rettig extremely hard lately. Rettig has been saying all of the right things. He even skipped a visit to UCLA's game versus Nebraska because he said he didn't want to miss watching LSU's game against Washington on TV. He says his recruitment is over and that his only visit will be to LSU. And you know what? I believe him. However, news broke Wednesday night that UCLA has broken ties with their quarterback commitment, Eddie Printz. That article I linked doesn't paint UCLA in the most positive light over that situation. But the entire situation bears watching. Rettig will get pushed even more by Jim Mora and his staff now. I don't see any reason to worry unless Rettig takes a visit there.
Forced to predict LSU's finish right now, I'll go with Williams, Beckwith, Gilmore, and Skinner.