At 7-3, a struggling LSU football team is but a few recruits away from competing for another national championship. However, a quick turnaround is not easy, especially when the Tigers have to battle an Alabama team that seems to be beating LSU on and off of the gridiron.
Yes, the Tigers lost the battle against Alabama on Nov. 9, but they can still win the SEC war come Feb. 5, 2014.
Nevertheless, you'd better believe the pressure is greater than ever. A 38-17 defeat at the hands of Nick Saban's Tide has the LSU fanbase in full panic mode.
One game won't decide the fate of LSU's 2014 signing class. And though Saban sneaked the top-rated recruit right from under Les Miles' nose (West Monroe's Cameron Robinson), LSU can still put together one of its finest classes in school history.
They'll need to, because unlike recent years, the Tigers have a grocery list of needs.
LSU should go ahead and post signs around the country that read, "LSU: Now Taking Applications for a DBU-Worthy Defensive Back."
The Tigers have youth in the secondary with true freshmen Tre'Davious White and Rashard Robinson, but the Tigers will lose Craig Loston at safety. Ronald Martin, Corey Thompson, Micah Eugene, Jalen Mills and Dwayne Thomas will all return next season, but here's where the "DBU-worthy" tag comes into play.
Where are you, Tyrann Mathieus and Morris Claibornes?
To go along with secondary needs, the Tigers could use more beef on the defensive line. Defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson are likely NFL-bound.
Able bodies in the backfield wouldn't hurt either. Jeremy Hill is draft-eligible and could be the best running back in the draft. I'd also be remiss without mentioning Michael Ford and Spencer Ware surprisingly jumping ship to the NFL last season. Will Kenny Hilliard follow suit?
One can almost guarantee Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham will be professionals next year; both grade as first-round talent.
Anybody depressed yet?
Fear not—the Tigers have depth and youth on the offensive line and at linebacker. There are a couple bright spots at least. This frees up the coaching staff to concentrate more on the positions listed above.
So who will be the new faces of the Tigers? Let's begin with those who have already committed.
Most Important Commits
Starting with the most important position on the field, Miles and Cam Cameron will have the unfortunate task of replacing Zach Mettenberger.
Much like a haircut from the barber shop, Mettenberger started to look dapper right before his eligibility was trimmed away. We hardly knew ye. Trust me—after years of enduring Jordan Jefferson's play, Mettenberger's 20-touchdown and 2,733-passing-yard season feels short-lived.
Without the fifth LSU quarterback in school history to have thrown over 20 touchdowns in a season, it was critical for LSU to find a backup for Anthony Jennings and push him in the spring.
The Tigers have already done so and more with Brandon Harris.
|Tigers' Most Important Commits|
|Brandon Harris||4||QB||6'3"||193 lbs.|
|Ed Paris||4||S||6'1"||190 lbs.|
|Trey Quinn||4||WR||6'1"||200 lbs.|
|Davon Godchaux||4||SDE||6'4"||265 lbs.|
|Garrett Brumfield||4||OG||6'4"||272 lbs.|
|2014 LSU Commits|
How good is Harris? Apparently he's good enough for Les Miles to make his first home visit ever in November, as Roy Lang III of the Shreveport Times reported.
Harris is the most important commit for the Tigers thus far, but trailing not too far behind are Ed Paris and Trey Quinn.
Paris is probably the most gaudy commit, garnering a 4-star, 98 composite rating from 247 Sports. Fans have their fingers crossed hoping Paris becomes that next great defensive back for LSU.
As for Quinn, the Barbe High School wide receiver has great speed and solid hands, adding further depth behind Travin Dural, Quantavius Leslie, Avery Peterson, John Diarse and Kevin Spears. Dural is the only receiver who's received notable playing time this season.
The Tigers have a solid group of commits, good enough to earn them the No. 12 spot on 247 Sports' board.
With that in mind, imagine how high LSU would climb if it lands these targets.
Most Important Targets
Crazier things have happened. In this day and age of recruiting, an early commitment to a school is about as sincere as the chatter spread in NFL locker rooms. Blame it on the culture.
So if 'Bama pledge Robinson has a change of heart and decides to play closer to home, it really shouldn't come as a shock.
Nor should the fact that LSU is still trying to reel in the prospect. Should LSU entice Robinson enough to land the nation's No. 1 recruit by February, the Tigers would enter 2014 with incredible momentum.
|Tigers' Most Important Targets|
|Cameron Robinson (Bama Commit)||5||OT||6'5"||330 lbs.|
|Leonard Fournette||5||RB||6'1"||226 lbs.|
|Speedy Noil||5||WR||5'11"||176 lbs.|
|Gerald Willis||5||DT||6'3"||275 lbs.|
|Tony Brown||5||CB||6'0"||188 lbs.|
|LSU's 2014 Top Targets|
The Tigers have a lot of ground to make up in that tussle. And wouldn't you know it—the Tigers' struggle over a recruit who's just as important involves Alabama again.
Leonard Fournette, the top running back in America, is arguably the best running back prospect Louisiana has ever seen. So when Hill moves on next season (hard to see him risk staying), Fournette would be the feature back as a true freshman.
That's why LSU stands a chance against Alabama in this recruiting tug-of-war.
The third important recruit for the Tigers is wide receiver Speedy Noil.
The Tigers can ill afford to let the Crimson Tide steal away Louisiana's top talent, and landing two of these three Louisiana athletes is crucial for not only 2014, but for the future of LSU football. Noil's ability to make cuts and accelerate on the football field earned him a 99 composite score from 247 Sports. Enough said, right?
Cornerback Tony Brown, defensive tackle Gerald Willis and safety Laurence "Hootie" Jones are coveted recruits that the Tigers have a legitimate possibility of grabbing. All three recruits are 5-star talents.
LSU is in a great position to boast one of the best recruiting classes in school history, and it starts with getting commitments from homegrown talents who can fill team needs like Fournette, Willis, Jones and Noil.
Swaying Robinson from Alabama would be icing on a talent-rich cake.