Six months ago, Les Miles seemed on the precipice of losing his job at LSU and reports of his imminent departure were seemingly hurting recruiting.
Well, Miles and LSU have rallied and captured the recruiting momentum. LSU has received five commitments in five days, including massive top 10 offensive tackle Austin Deculus from Cy-Fair High in Texas.
The Tigers’ recruiting class was ranked 19th in the nation by 247Sports last week at this time. It has rocketed up to No. 3 with the additions of Deculus, junior college wide receiver Stephen Guidry, Georgia fullback Tory Carter, Louisiana defensive end Aaron Moffitt and Mississippi offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles.
“Momentum is important especially at this time of year,” said 247Sports national recruiting director Barton Simmons. “The summer stretch before the start of fall camp has to be where a recruiting class builds its foundation and makes it move.
“These are guys that are LSU type of kids in terms of toughness, physicality and size. I think this push is going to make it so all of a sudden kids are talking about LSU. Kids are going to be inclined to jump on board while they still have a spot. They can create some synergy and momentum and LSU does a great job of capitalizing.”
Deculus, who is 6-6 and 323, started the run with his commitment Friday. He chose LSU over Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Michigan and many others. LSU had long been considered the favorite but things crystallized with a visit last month.
“I already knew where I wanted to go so why wait?” said Deculus, who plans to enroll early.
Simmons described Deculus as a “force in the run game, a big body mover and one of the most talented offensive linemen in the country.”
As for the talk about Miles last fall, Deculus said, “At first, it had me guessing, but overall it didn’t impact me because I knew it was foolish.”
Guidry, a Louisiana native who was playing for Hinds Community College in Mississippi, is considered the top junior college wide receiver available. After saying Alabama was his leader, he committed during the Tigers Bayou Picnic on Saturday, his second visit to campus in four days. He is expected to enroll in January.
Carter, from Lee County (Leesburg, Ga.), is ranked as a three-star prospect and the No. 3 fullback in the class. Carter is 6-2, 255 pounds and also played defensive end.
Moffitt, from Baton Rouge-Catholic, has a family connection to the program because his father is the longtime LSU strength and conditioning coordinator Tommy Moffitt. He chose LSU over Cal, Purdue, Duke South Carolina and others.
However, he kept his decision a surprise from his parents initially before telling them just before he made his commitment public.
Charles, from Madison-Ridgeland Academy (Madison, Miss.), adds to an offensive line group that includes Deculus and texas four-star prospect Edward Ingram. Charles, who grew up in the New Orleans area, was offered by LSU last month and then made a campus visit with his mother, an LSU graduate. He is the No. 15 guard prospect in the nation, according to 247.
LSU has 12 commits in the class at this point. The big question is whether the Tigers can reel back in Jacoby Stevens, ranked as the No. 1 athlete in the class who likely will play safety in college. Stevens committed to LSU but decommitted last fall. He released a top 7 in early April with Georgia at the top of the list followed by LSU.
“There was fallout (from the Miles situation),” Simmons said. “Any time you lose a five-star level kid that you would have gotten otherwise gotten, it’s hard to say there’s been no impact.
“They did have to fight upstream for a little while, but they’re still going to continue to recruit under Les Miles. They might have to do it with some different players than they might have otherwise, but they will have a class that will be one of the best in the country. It’s sort of like no harm, no foul and keep on trucking, but there was an impact. LSU will do really well even without Stevens and even at that position. They have some safeties that are really elite.”