LSU had a really good recruiting season.
There has to be a but added to any evaluation of the Tigers’ 2019 class.
LSU landed 25 players – 3 5-star recruits, 11 4-star recruits, 10 3-star recruits and 1 2-star recruit.
It wound up with nearly all the top players in Louisiana and bolstered both lines, which were two of head coach Ed Orgeron’s top priorities.
This class would have had just about everything if defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher of Amite, La., had chosen the Tigers, which he nearly did.
But shortly after noon Wednesday, just moments after a teammate – 4-star wide receiver Devonta Lee – put on an LSU cap, leaving the final scholarship in the nation’s No. 5-ranked class there for Sopsher’s taking. Sopsher added not his name, but a large “but” to the Tigers’ recruiting class.
Sopsher chose Alabama, leaving Orgeron one defensive lineman short of the group he coveted, allowing one of Louisiana’s own – a mere 60 miles northeast of the LSU campus – to slip through his fingers.
And, of course, choosing the Crimson Tide added insult to, well, insult.
After Alabama beat LSU 29-0 last fall in Tiger Stadium, Orgeron bemoaned the Tigers’ eighth consecutive loss to the Tide by saying LSU had to get better on both lines of scrimmage if it was going to close the gap on Bama.
When the Tigers signed 19 recruits in December, Orgeron said the biggest priority in February would be to add to the defensive line.
LSU beefed up both lines in December and added to the defensive line in a meaningful way Wednesday.
It didn’t get Sopsher.
No single recruit is going to make or break any class, especially one who rates 4-stars and not 5.
But Sopsher’s absence on the defensive line for the next few seasons is exacerbated not only by his presence on the Tide’s defensive line but also by the lost opportunity to beat Bama in this head-to-head recruiting battle.
Landing Sopsher (6-3, 334) would have been an exclamation point, solidifying Orgeron’s best recruiting class and suggesting that this off-the-field victory in February might lead to an overdue on-the-field victory next November in Tuscaloosa.
Maybe LSU will beat Alabama – soon if not in November – and there are reasons to believe this recruiting class has the Tigers on the right track.
The Wednesday signing of 3-star JUCO edge rusher defensive lineman Soni Fonua (Mesa, Ariz.), the nation’s No. 6 JUCO strong-side defensive end, added to a unit that already included 4-star Utah DT Siaki “Apu” Ika, and 3-star Haynesville (La.) defensive tackle Joseph Evans.
Less than two hours after Sopsher announced his choice, Orgeron did land a 25th signee and a fourth defensive lineman when Desmond Little, a 3-star end from Mobile, Ala., signed.
Little (6-5, 210) was the No. 56 weak-side defensive end in and had other offers from Alabama, Ole Miss and South Carolina.
In addition to seeing Sopsher sign with Alabama, the Tigers also saw two other defensive linemen spurn their overtures to flip as end Byron Young stuck with his commitment to Alabama and Charles Moore chose Louisville.
Still, LSU, which added 4-star defensive back Maurice Hampton and 4-star tackle Ray Parker on Wednesday, wound up with 8 of the top 10 players in Louisiana.
A class that already included standouts such as 5-star CB/RS Derek Stingley and 5-star running back John Emery wound up including just about everything Orgeron had hoped for.
So here’s another but:
The results weren’t perfect, but they were very close to it.