Help is on the way for LSU.
The Tigers have had a fine 9-3 season heading into their Fiesta Bowl game against undefeated UCF on New Year’s Day.
But they were close to being even better. They lost by eight points to Florida, and Texas A&M needed a touchdown on the final play of regulation as well as seven overtimes to deny them a 10-win regular season.
A few really good reinforcements in just the right places could put LSU in position to have a special season in 2019.
LSU’s recruiting class is ranked No. 4 in the country. Assuming they follow through on their commitments during the Early Signing Period Dec. 19-21, here are five recruits who can help immediately in 2019:
1. Trey Palmer, WR, Kentwood (La.)
The Tigers thought wide receiver was going to be a strength in 2018. It wasn’t.
They have a lot of receivers coming back in 2019, but other than Justin Jefferson, nobody has lived up to expectations. Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr., are highly touted freshmen who might well have breakout seasons as sophomores in 2019.
But the opportunity is there for anyone who proves they’re ready to have an impact. Palmer’s high-school coach, Jonathan Foster, praised Palmer’s football smarts before Kentwood’s victory in the Class 1A state championship game this week.
Despite suffering a leg injury two weeks ago, LSU 5 star commit Trey Palmer (@Treythekiid7) made several plays in his team's Class 1A state championship win against Oak Grove including throwing a touchdown pass to his quarterback. pic.twitter.com/yK7a564xYG
— NOLA.com Prep Sports (@nolaprep) December 7, 2018
Palmer is a 6-0, 179-pound 4-star recruit who played through an ankle injury in the semifinals and finals, throwing a touchdown pass from his receiver position in both games. He also was a standout strong safety for the Kangaroos.
He has intelligence, toughness and versatility. He also has an opportunity at a position where LSU needs to get better.
2. Kardell Thomas, G, Southern Lab (Baton Rouge, La.)
The Tigers’ offensive line dealt with complications from July on.
At the start of preseason camp, starting right guard Ed Ingram Jr. was suspended indefinitely. He was later charged with sexual assault and was never reinstated. He might never play again for LSU.
Injuries and other disciplinary issues kept the door revolving for much of the season. Thomas, a 5-star and No. 2 guard in the country, could be in the mix on the line, either in Ingram’s spot or somewhere else if Ingram were to return.
LSU needs to get better on the line and Thomas, who is 6-3, 356, can help them to just that.
3. Donte Starks, ILB, John Ehret (Marrero, La.)
The Tigers have uncertainty at inside linebacker as well.
Devin White, voted the nation’s best linebacker this season, is expected to bypass his senior season and enter the NFL Draft after the Fiesta Bowl.
The depth was weakened during preseason camp when Tyler Taylor was suspended after an arrest for his alleged role in a robbery in Georgia.
Patrick Queen and Jacob Phillips played well at times this year, but nothing is set at inside linebacker. Starks, listed at 6-1, 225, is a 4-star recruit and the No. 6 inside linebacker in the country, so he has an opportunity to erase some of the uncertainty about the linebacking corps.
He reported visited Kansas and former LSU coach Les Miles this weekend.
4. John Emery Jr., RB, Destrehan (La.)
Emery is a 5-star recruit. He’s the No. 2 running back in the country.
Coach Ed Orgeron made thinly veiled comments about the need for the Tigers to get him shortly after Emery decommitted from Georgia and shortly before he committed to LSU.
He might well be the poster boy for this recruiting class because he’s being brought in to be the next Derrius Guice or Leonard Fournette or whoever else.
Check out my highlight – https://t.co/ITyVKwJf8w RAREBREEDONLY
— John Emery (@Emery4____) December 5, 2018
It’s likely that Emery, listed at 5-11, 206, will start right away and be a key to whether the Tigers can elevate their offensive production significantly.
5. Derek Stingley, CB/RS, Dunham (Baton Rouge, La.)
Stingley is the No. 3 overall recruit nationally. He’s the top-rated cornerback in the country. And he returns kicks.
Time will tell whether he becomes the next Patrick Peterson, but he’s the guy with the best chance to have the biggest impact right away.
Greedy Williams is going to the NFL, not even sticking around for the Fiesta Bowl.
DBU needs some DBs, the type that can help the Tigers continue to justify that nickname.
Stingley, a 5-star listed at 6-0, 188, can help them do that.
He can also provide much-needed help in the punt return game.