Will LSU Keep No. 1 Class After Landing 5-Star DT Rashard Lawrence?

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystJanuary 22, 2016

Credit: 247Sports

LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles landed his second crucial in-state commitment in a 24-hour span Friday morning, picking up a pledge from prized defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence:

The 5-star prospect selected LSU over fellow finalist Ohio State during a ceremony at Neville High School in Monroe, Louisiana. His decision arrives a day after top-ranked Louisiana offensive tackle Willie Allen announced intentions to play for the Tigers.

Commitments from these lauded linemen catapult LSU to No. 1 in national composite recruiting class rankings. Fittingly, the Tigers leapfrogged Ohio State for the top spot with Lawrence on board.

2016 Composite Recruiting Class Rankings
RankSchoolTotal Commitments5-Stars4-Stars
2Ohio State21115
4Florida State18111
6Ole Miss2039
8Notre Dame22010
247Sports composite rankings

Holding down the nation's No. 1 class is quite an accomplishment considering how things seemed at LSU just two months ago. Miles was widely expected to be shown the exit door in Baton Rouge, but the university announced he would be retained after a victory over Texas A&M in the regular-season finale.

Less than a week before that win, LSU lost a longtime commitment from Elite 11 finalist Feleipe Franks. The 4-star quarterback spent 17 months as a marquee member of the Tigers' class but ultimately found his home with the Florida Gators and enrolled in Gainesville earlier this month.

Despite that setback and the swirling speculation that surrounded Miles, LSU is now firmly on track to welcome an immensely impressive talent haul to campus in 2016. Some members have already arrived for classes and will compete for early snaps in spring practice.

Cornerback Saivion Smith, wide receiver Stephen Sullivan, running back Devin White and linebacker Michael Divinity—each 4-star recruits—enrolled early at LSU. Sullivan, White and Divinity each finalized collegiate plans this winter, which further illustrates the closing ability of Miles and his staff.

Tigers defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, who has past head coaching experience at Ole Miss and USC, undoubtedly played a pivotal role in the recruitment of Lawrence. The Buckeyes relied on revered positional coach Larry Johnson as the primary recruiter and became the lone contender beyond state borders during late stretches of this process, though it wasn't enough to overcome LSU.

The 6'3", 305-pound playmaker dominated throughout his senior campaign. Lawrence tallied 91 tackles—15 for loss—eight sacks and three forced fumbles, according to Brett Hudson of the News Star.

He joins a Tigers defensive front that's also set to add 4-star 2016 linemen Glen LoganRahssan ThorntonAndre Anthony and Edwin Alexander. LSU prioritized the defensive interior during this cycle and punctuated a strong push with Lawerence's pledge.

The question now becomes whether LSU will maintain its spot atop recruiting class rankings through national signing day, which takes center stage Feb. 3. The Tigers now carry 22 commitments but will continue to target key prospects, specifically in the defensive backfield (cornerbacks Kristian Fulton and Trayvon Mullen remain possibilities) and quarterback, where LSU still has a void following Franks' November departure.

Miles may ultimately not look far for Franks' replacement, offering in-state quarterback Lindsey Scott earlier this week. The 3-star prospect and Gatorade Player of the Year in Louisiana, who decommitted from Syracuse Jan. 17, is also considering late charges from Rutgers and Maryland.

Programs such as Michigan, Georgia and Alabama appear to have more potential for class growth with elite prospects than LSU during the final week and a half of this recruiting cycle. Odds are likely in favor of LSU landing in the top five overall on signing day, but sustaining No. 1 class status could be a long shot when the dust settles.

Regardless of where the Tigers finish in final recruiting class rankings, it's clear Miles and Co. have overcome obstacles that other staffs didn't encounter on the 2016 trail. Despite losing its quarterback—and nearly its head coach—LSU is rolling toward Feb. 3 with major momentum.

"It's really cool being part of such an elite class. It's a great feeling knowing you have so many people coming in at the same level as you," Tigers defensive end commit  Caleb Roddy told Bleacher Report"We're going to win championships for sure—multiple maybe."

Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.