The metaphorical and literal significance of this win for the future of LSU football was made clear within minutes. Actual Minutes. Because 2024 offensive lineman Khayree Lee (New Orleans) announced his signing just moments after Jayden Daniels scored against Mason Taylor in the end zone to seal LSU’s monumental 32-31 win over Alabama.
Or because Javien Toviano, the target of the 2023 top-50 corner, nervously chased the goal with his family from the stands and sprinted to the field the moment Taylor caught that pass, according to a video released over the weekend has appeared.
Or because fast-rising Louisiana defenseman Dylan Carpenter made the switch from Louisiana to LSU the next day.
The Tigers’ recruiting momentum is rolling, and it started even before the game kicked off in Alabama last Saturday.
The past year has been defined by questions about Brian Kelly, valid questions that nobody wrongly asked. Could he win in the SEC? Could he recruit at a high enough level to win titles at LSU? Suddenly both are answered.
It’s now November, and Kelly has a flawed and incomplete list running 7-2 and in control of her own destiny in the SEC West. He’s beaten Ole Miss and Alabama in back-to-back games, and an unexpected 10-2 regular season is now the goal well ahead of schedule.
Meanwhile, Kelly, recruiting coordinator Brian Polian, and the entire LSU staff have the class of 2023 in better shape than anyone could have predicted. In the days leading up to the Alabama game alone, LSU received a commitment from DJ Chester (McDonough, Georgia), top 150 offensive lineman, and Colin Hurley (Jacksonville, Fla.), top 50 quarterback serving in the 2024 class Tigers were reclassified and committed. The class of 2023 is #4 nationally. Then LSU had a blockbuster campus attendance list for the big game, and the opportunity was there to keep beating the bucket.
Let’s take a look at where recruitment at LSU stands after this big week.
Quarterback of the future
LSU quarterback recruiting has changed in unprecedented ways in years. Louisiana historically doesn’t develop quarterbacks, and often the best left the state. However, LSU is considering a four-cycle run that could change the program after Hurley’s signing.
Garrett Nussmeier, a top-100 recruit in 2021, was LSU’s highest-rated quarterback in nearly a decade. Walker Howard awarded LSU a rare five-star pocket passer in 2022. And Baton Rouge’s top-250 quarterback Rickie Collins signed to LSU in August. Considering that Nussmeier was a Lake Charles native and considers himself a Louisian even though he played high school ball in Texas, it meant LSU was able to win three straight first-class Louisiana quarterbacks.
Hurley is something bigger. He was already a nearly five-star prospect in the Class of 2025 and won a Florida State 2A title as a freshman in high school. He has no obvious ties to LSU, but between quarterback coach Joe Sloan, recruiting staff Jordan Arcement and others, LSU connected with Hurley and landed a big out-of-state quarterback. That doesn’t happen at LSU.
Looking ahead, even if Howard or Nussmeier eventually makes a move, LSU can expect either of those two to start at least through the 2025 season. By 2026, Collins will be a redshirt junior with development. And Hurley, who will be 17 and have three years of starting experience when he signs with LSU, will also have had two years to develop.
The point is that Kelly, Sloan, Polian, offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock and so on prepared LSU as the best quarterback in the history of the program. The next eight years are essentially laid out.
The good trend for two elite corners
Cornerback was always a priority in the 2023 class, especially after LSU had to sign four transfer corners in 2022 to stay afloat. LSU already has three corner engagements in Top 150 California commit Daylen Austin and three-star prospects Jeremiah Hughes (Las Vegas) and Ashton Stamps (Metairie, La.).
But now LSU is in the mix to potentially bring in one, if not two, marquee additions.
Toviano has long been an LSU target, and the Tigers have had to battle big opponents like Texas A&M, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Michigan for the Arlington, Texas top-50 corner. It’s by no means over, but optimism has been growing at Baton Rouge for weeks now that LSU was in the driver’s seat with Toviano, and Saturday only built on that optimism as Toviano watched and celebrated at Tiger Stadium.
Then there’s the reclassified IMG Academy corner Desmond Ricks. He was No. 2 overall in the 2024 class before moving into 2023, and even after a year up he’s still a five-star contender, ranked 15th overall by the 247Sports Composite. Ricks was also in Baton Rouge for the big game, and the feeling around LSU is that the Tigers have a good chance.
Neither Toviano nor Ricks will be easy, especially Ricks, who has a full year down in recruiting, meaning his relationships are likely less entrenched. Still, the excitement for LSU is that it has a chance to land an elite cornerback class in a year when it desperately needs it. If it both landed, LSU would have five cornerbacks in the 2023 class with three in the top 150 overall.
LSU’s class is currently ranked 4th in the 247Sports Composite. Add in both Toviano and Ricks and it’s time to look at LSU, which might have a No. 2 or 3 class in the country. Still a very long way.
The offensive line builds on the clear success
Like the quarterback, offensive line recruiting has long been a weakness for LSU. And much like the quarterback, that was largely because Louisiana didn’t produce elite offensive linemen. It definitely didn’t make great offensive tackles.
But in 2022, Louisiana provided LSU with five-star tackle Will Campbell (Monroe, La.) and four-star tackle Emery Jones (Baton Rouge, La.), and both are now true freshmen starting LSU tackles on a top 10 team. The state is giving more as LSU already has signings from top-100 tackle Zalance Heard and four-star tackle Tyree Adams (New Orleans).
Add in three-star lineman Paul Mubenga in Georgia and now the signing of Chester, who’s ranked No. 138 in the country, and this class is already a clear success. The 2022 and 2023 classes alone might be enough to get LSU to create a sustainably good offensive line game.
However, LSU is not done yet. Georgia enlisted Bo Hughley for a surprise visit to campus this weekend. Hughley is ranked 102nd overall by the 247Sports Composite. Then LSU will continue to keep tabs on Texas A&M commits Chase Bisontis and TJ Shanahan. Both are top 150 prospects that LSU was in for. It will be interesting to see what happens when Texas A&M struggles.
The class as a whole
LSU has 25 high school commitments in the class of 2023, which ranks #4 nationally, and with no other class restrictions, they can keep adding. The best thing for Kelly and this class is that there are no obvious needs right now.
The defensive line is loaded, with Dashawn Womach, Jaxon Howard, Joshua Mickens and Darron Reed giving LSU four top-200 linemen as well as new commit Carpenter. The Receiver class has two top 60 commits in Baton Rouge five-star Shelton Sampson Jr. and Miami product Jalen Brown, as well as Khai Prean and Kyle Parker. Safety has four-star signings from Kaleb Jackson, Ryan Yaites and Michael Daugherty. Running back has two four-star Louisiana players in Kaleb Jackson and Trey Holly. And as mentioned above, quarterback, offensive line and cornerback are looking good.
Linebacker will be interesting. LSU has signings from four-star Whit Weeks, brother of LSU linebacker West Weeks, and three-star Baylor flip Christian Brathwaite. You could try adding another one there. Ditto for security, where LSU has a four-star Mac Markway in class, but would certainly like to add more depth.
Another X-factor to watch will be whether LSU can add another blue-chip defender. LSU is certainly in the mix for the five-star freak Nyckoles Harbor. It also doesn’t give up top 100 rand Jayden Wayne and four-star player A’Mauri Washington. It doesn’t to need any of that, but it would put the LSU class over the top.
This course will be the foundation of Kelly’s tenure in many ways. The class of 2022 was full, but it was a small high school class with only 15 high school signatures and 15 college transfers. This will be the one to rebalance things.
With that in mind, Kelly said he needed to dive into the transfer portal a bit last week to plug some holes. But not to the extent of last year.
“We have some really good young players and we’re not going to let them down,” Kelly said. “We want to build this program there. This program will be freshman based, but a few positions still have gaps that need to be filled with some transfers.
“We’re a lot better than last year. We’re going to get better this year, and then hopefully next year it’s all about player development and attracting newcomers. That’s the second stage to get to where we need to be to hopefully get to this final narrative of the Alabama staging. But we’re still a long way from that.”