LSU’s field of interest for 2022 help narrows as February signing day nears
February signing day in college football ain’t what it used to be. Early signings in December stole much of that thunder before the transfer portal became an instant quick fix option.
LSU inked 13 high school recruits in December. Since then, a whopping 11 transfers have been lined up to fill roster holes. With eight spots left to fill in this signing window, head coach Brian Kelly will dip further into both pools. The high schoolers to be added will come in one week’s time.
Let’s go over the possible new additions connected to the Tigers at this juncture.
-DB Jacoby Mathews (6-2, 193) Ponchatoula
Garnering a great deal of attention from the LSU staff, avid Tiger fans and rival schools trying to sway him in their favor, Mathews originally committed to the Purple and Gold back on April 23 but backed off June 22. He took an official visit to Baton Rouge on Nov. 27 and an unofficial visit to Florida under new coach Billy Napier on Jan. 14. Ex-LSU secondary coach Corey Raymond, now at Florida with Napier, is trying to use his established ties to sway Mathews to Gainesville.
Besides the Tigers and Gators, Texas A&M, Texas and Alabama are still in the hunt.
Mathews possesses tremendous versatility, having played on both sides of the ball at Ponchatoula but that cross-training has not allowed him to concentrate on the safety spot where his future lies. He is a playmaker who reminds me a great deal of Eric Reid, the former All American at LSU and 49ers’ first round pick in 2013.
-OLB Harold Perkins (6-3, 212) Cypress, Texas
Perhaps the Crown Jewel of the ’22 signing class, Perkins is the fourth overall rated prospect and top ranked linebacker by 247 Sports. He has ties to the New Orleans area. Perkins committed to Texas A&M on January 2 but reopened his recruitment this week. The news looks encouraging for LSU as he has a trip planned to Baton Rouge midweek for an unofficial visit followed this coming weekend by an official. It’s his last stop before signing day.
Texas and Florida have intensified their efforts to land Perkins, who visited Florida on January 14th and came away impressed with Napier and the new Gator staff.
Perkins earned 10-6A All District honors at both running back (1,352 yards, 21 TD’s) and linebacker (93 stops, 23.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 13 PBU). He has sub-4.5 speed.
-WR Caleb Douglas (6-3, 185) Missouri City, Texas
The Tigers’ staff has been gaining favor with the four-star who committed to USC on August 10 but re-opened the process Nov. 30. He received an offer from LSU on Jan. 19, and new Tigers wide receivers coach Cortez Hankton has had a lot to do with Douglas’s interest in LSU. Hankton has collaborated with offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock to sway Douglas, was an All District 10-5A quarterback in 2020 and co-offensive MVP this past season.
Don’t undersell the national attention that LSU has received with all of the former LSU players’ having so much success in the NFL playoffs, plus new defensive coordinator Matt House’s currently wrapping up his work as linebackers coach with the Kansas City Chiefs.
-RB Tre’Vonte Citizen (6-0, 217) Lake Charles Prep
Another focal point of the Tigers’ recruiting class for ’22, he committed to LSU back on July 19 but was back on the market Nov. 28. LSU assistant Frank Wilson has been on the case since his return to the Tigers staff. If anyone can secure him for the Tigers, it’s an ace recruiter like Wilson who was also coaching in McNeese the past couple of years at McNeese.
Auburn is keeping the heat on until the very end while Miami, Texas A&M, Florida and Texas are all making their cases. Citizen visits the Hurricanes this coming weekend. If Kelly isn’t successful with Citizen, I would expect him to survey the transfer portal for another running back.
-TE Danny Lewis (6-4, 235) Westgate
Somewhat of an after thought until the 2021 state playoffs afforded him an opportunity to showcase his skills, Lewis was originally a pledge to Cincinnati. He has since backed off after receiving an offer from LSU on Jan. 12. Denbrock, formerly at Cincinnati, is obviously very familiar with Lewis.
Very athletic for the position, Lewis has sure hands. He’s a tireless worker who is reminiscent of former LSU/NFL tight end Robert Royal.
Jabbar Juluke and the Florida Gators are applying full court pressure to sway Lewis late. He took an official visit to Gainesville on Jan. 14 and has an unofficial stop planned there for this upcoming weekend. He could cancel the Florida trip and re-route to LSU since he has yet to visit the Baton Rouge campus and facilities. Stay tuned.
CB Jaelyn Davis-Robinson (5-11, 175) Waxahachie, Texas
Added to the LSU visitors list this coming weekend, he has been considering Oregon and Boston College. Davis-Robinson visited both schools the past two weekends but received an offer from the Tigers on Jan. 24. The three-star recruit also received offers from LA Tech, Washington State, Wyoming, North Texas, UNLV, Houston and Louisville.
Quick reflexes and great closing speed (4.4) help him mirror receiver throughout routes. Davis-Robinson plays very tight coverage. LSU safeties coach Kerry Cooks is handling his recruiting.
The portal has been a blessing to the Tigers, with all of the defections that the team experienced this past season. In any ordinary year past, it would have been nearly impossible to restore the roster and assemble a competitive squad based solely on 2022 freshman signees. The portal has enabled Kelly and company to focus on specific areas and upgrade those spots with experienced veterans. That option has yielded gold to the Tigers.
Could they pluck another gem or two?
Cornerback was an area of need this offseason. Many observers think Jarrick Bernard-Converse is the perfect answer, and now he is officially in the fold. Very physical, he plays up to the challenge in big games. Bernard-Converse is also a twice Big 12 All-Academic selection who has already graduated with an eye toward a career in veterinary medicine.
The 6-foot-2 veteran can line up at safety or corner but the later is where he’d fit into an obvious LSU need.
What about other areas where experienced depth is still required? We’ll start with running back where Noah Cain is a newcomer from the portal but perhaps another versatile player can bolster the position.
Trelon Smith, a Houston native, had 598 yards rushing and five scores with the Arkansas Razorbacks this past season after compiling 710 yards and five more touchdowns. In a sign of his versatility Smith is the first Razorback running back to accumulate 70 yards rushing and 70 yards as a receiver in a single game.
Originally at Arizona State prior to his arrival at Arkansas, the 6-foot, 190 pounder may have a key Tigers connection since offensive line coach Brad Davis was at Arkansas before joining the staff in Baton Rouge last summer. LSU already has added two former Hogs (defensive backs Greg Brooks, Jr. and Joe Foucha) though the transfer portal this offseason.
Speaking of the offensive line, it also must still be addressed. Despite adding a pair from the transfer portal (Miles Frazier and Tre’mond Shorts) and 2022 signee William Campbell, LSU can still use more options.
Tyler Steen (6-5, 317) has two seasons of eligibility remaining after having started 37 contests at both tackle spots for Vanderbilt. He has been a team leader and a positive locker room presence. His dad played at LSU in the 1980’s and his grandfather was a Vietnam vet who was awarded a medal of honor.
Penn State has already met with Steen, who is highly coveted by others. His younger brother Blake is also a three-star prospect in the 2022 class with offers from Vanderbilt, Tennessee State and Jackson State.
-A player with local ties has just entered the transfer portal.
South Carolina’s Kolbe Fields (6-1, 225) was a freshman last season. He prepped at Archbishop Rummel where he was an All State performer as a junior after recording 105 tackles, 10 TFL, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He is a downhill tackler with good instincts. LSU still has a need for help at linebacker.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…