LSU’s focus on 2023 football recruiting class shifts more toward in-state talent

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The old adage that states ‘recruiting is an inexact science’ is true. There are no sure fire methods for success when you’re trying to secure a player.

Brian Kelly arrived at LSU with a somewhat scientific approach and a game plan in hand. He has followed the road map thus far in Baton Rouge over seven months. Of course, there will be some potholes along the way but his aim is to secure talented prospects who are determined with good character to help LSU reach the ultimate goal.

Some LSU faithful have been skeptical so far about Kelly’s methods of recruiting, or should I say, his targeted players. Some of the better players in Louisiana’s 2023 class do not seem to fit the criteria so a few of them have consequently committed elsewhere. I am not implying that anyone who has pledged to a school other than LSU was not recruited by the Tigers though. Some players want to branch out and play for a specific school for a variety of reasons beyond LSU’s control.

A coach can learn early in the process if he has a chance of landing an individual. At that point, the coach can choose either to work harder to flip that player or elect to concentrate his efforts elsewhere.

A coach does not want to recruit or sign a player who may hit the transfer portal after a brief stay. There are players in Louisiana who have dreamed of playing in Tiger Stadium, while others have aspirations to leave home for whatever reasons.

By the same token, there are many outstanding players outside the borders of Louisiana who have watched LSU on television and witnessed the success the Tigers have experienced, wanting to be a part of that tradition.

If you take a look at the final two recruiting classes for Ed Orgeron, attrition was significant. Only a year removed from the 2021 signing class in which 23 players were signed, five have already left. The 2020 class produced 22 newcomers but 10 have departed including two from in-state (QB T.J. Finley and WR Koy Moore).

Kelly has roped in 17 pledges for the 2023 signing period. Nine rank in the nation’s top 215 players including six in the top 200.

# 52 WR Jalen Brown (Miami)
# 55 DE DeShaun Womack (Baltimore)
# 116 DE Jaxon Howard (Minneapolis)
# 127 EDGE Joshua Mickens ( Indianapolis)
# 160 CB Daylen Austin (Long Beach, Calif.)
# 163 TE Mac Markway (St. Louis)
# 203 DB Michael Daugherty (Loganville, Ga.)
# 213 RB Kaleb Jackson (Baton Rouge)
# 215 DB Ryan Yaites (Denton, Texas)

Only one from the above group hails from Louisiana. There are four commitments overall who call Louisiana home – OT Tyree Adams (St. Augustine), DB Ashton Stamps (Rummel), RB Trey Holly (Union Parish) and Kaleb Jackson.

The work is not done, particularly in the state. The 63rd rated player in the country and the second ranked player in the state is right tackle Zalance Heard.

Catholic-Baton Rouge wideout Shelton Sampson is the third ranked overall player in the state and 91st overall nationally.

Woodlawn’s Rickie Collins, slotted 19th overall in the state, is 13th rated at quarterback in the 2023 class. With his recent decision to decommit from Purdue, LSU has their sights set on keeping him home.

Zachary safety Kylin Jackson, the 10th ranked player in the Louisiana, appears to heavily favor LSU.

Toss in another four-star lineman like Adams, D.J. Chester from McDonogh, Georgia, and the future looks rosey for the Tigers.

Heard, the 6-foot-6, 305 pounder who played last season as a bookend tackle with LSU true freshman Will Campbell at Neville, is the best senior tackle in the state. Heard reminds me a great deal of former LSU standout La’El Collins in his style. He plays snap to whistle with no quit.

LSU is closing in on Sampson (6-4, 190), a true size-and-speed prospect with 4.35 speed and game-changing ability.

Collins has LSU assistants Joe Sloan and Mike Denbrock working to secure his signature.

Zachary’s Kylin Jackson is in the mold of past Tiger safeties – big, fast and physical. He’s a big time hitter who can play in coverage. Jackson shows flashes of ex-LSU star Grant Delpit.

Chester has LSU, Ole Miss, Auburn, Michigan and Florida State as his finalists. Tiger assistant Brad Davis has done an outstanding job. He can line up at tackle or guard.

The 6-5, 300 pounder was the Georgia state shot put champion (52’9″) as a sophomore, placing second last spring. He also throws the discus (153′ 7″) and plays basketball. Chester is a mauler as a blocker. He can pull and get to the 2nd level. He visited LSU on a official stop June 17 and his interest has grown since then.

Recruiting equates to success. As Nick Saban has stated numerous times, “It’s the process.” Kelly is also process oriented. LSU’s process is going just fine so far.

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Rene Nadeau

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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…

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