The LSU Tigers have the opportunity to really bolster their program by landing some major in-state 5-star commitments in 2014, but by now, Les Miles and his staff have to expect that Nick Saban and Alabama won't make it easy.
Louisiana generally produces some of the best recruits in the country, and that means that LSU has generally had their work cut out for them on the recruiting trail. Every team in the SEC (and elsewhere) is trying to get a foothold within the state, but no program has more draw right now with elite recruits than Alabama.
Its championship tradition really speaks for itself, especially as of late, and Saban is arguably the best recruiter in the country. The state of Louisiana will offer up tremendous recruiting talent on a yearly basis, and LSU has become Alabama's biggest rival. You'd have to think that Saban knows and understands the importance of recruiting in Louisiana, if only to keep a few talented players off the Tigers' roster.
The proof is in the pudding as they say, so look no further than Alabama's recent classes. The Crimson Tide were able to land two big 2013 commitments from the state of Louisiana, represented by 3-star wideout Raheem Falkins and 4-star outside linebacker/defensive end Tim Williams. The 2012 class also featured two Louisiana recruits.
Two recruits in each cycle may not seem like a lot, but believe you me, any recruit that you can steal out of a rival's backyard is huge.
One would also imagine that continuing that success and doing even better will be a main priority this recruiting cycle for Alabama, especially considering the talented crop of Louisiana players in the 2014 class.
As it stands, Louisiana boasts four 5-star commitments according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings: Running back Leonard Fournette, offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, safety Laurence Jones and defensive end Gerald Willis.
All four elite players boast offers from both Alabama and LSU, and the Crimson Tide and Tigers are both at the top or near the top of their respective 247Sports interest list. Top two for Fournette and Robinson, top three for Jones, and top five for Willis.
Dallas Jackson of Rivals.com has put together an interesting piece highlighting some of the top Louisiana recruits (including 4-star wideout Malachi Dupre), specifically focusing on LSU's chances of landing them. He cited Rivals.com's Mike Farrell in his report:
Farrell believes that this group of players could all end up at LSU and that this class may have the makings of the class of 2011, which had six players from the state inside the Rivals100, five of whom chose to sign with LSU.
"When it is a good year in Louisiana, it is just assumed that LSU is going to clean up," Farrell said. "The class of 2011 was really good and could give LSU a real chance at a national championship run.
"I think that if this class all comes together, then we will be talking about it in a couple years as another group that can challenge for the national title."
It would be ill-advised and, frankly, naive to count Alabama out in the race for these recruits, but there's no doubting the fact that LSU seems to have a good foothold in the early goings of the 2014 recruiting cycle. If you read Jackson's report, all recruits mentioned had good things to say about the Tigers, so Miles and his staff have to be feeling good about their chances.
If Alabama goes on to have another elite season, though, it's going to be hard to deny the draw the Crimson Tide will have on the recruiting trail. If Saban can even start thinking about a three-peat, the hype surrounding the Crimson Tide in 2013 will be undeniable, and that will undoubtedly resonate with the 2014 recruiting class.
Alabama is certainly high on the list with these four elite state of Louisiana recruits, so at the very least, it's going to be interesting to see how things shake up over the next year.
LSU's must have in-state recruit for 2014 is:
Will 'Bama be able to steal away all four recruits?
That would be a coup of epic proportions, so the safe answer would be no. Realistically, LSU has a great chance to land Fournette considering the massive waiting list known as Alabama's depth chart at running back, and Willis admitted that LSU is the "likely leader" per Jackson's report.
Could Alabama keep up the trend of recruiting two state of Louisiana players a year though?
That's certainly a distinct possibility, and considering the talent coming out of the state in 2014, that would represent a huge recruiting win for the Crimson Tide.