Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman. Today, we discuss how LSU has maintained a lead for 5-star cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. We also touch on Dare Rosenthal‘s reaffirmed commitment to the Tigers and why two rival SEC teams jumped LSU for one of the nation’s fastest prospects.
LSU remains on top for Patrick Surtain Jr.
PLANTATION, Fla. — Patrick Surtain Jr. first named LSU as his leading school two summers ago during Nike’s The Opening Final in Oregon. The American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) cornerback was competing in the star-studded event as a junior.
Fifteen months later, not much has changed.
The 5-star cornerback maintains that the Tigers are his top school. The only difference, now, is time.
With four months until Surtain announces his decision on National Signing Day in February, LSU remains the team to beat. Of course, the Tigers face stiff competition from the other schools embedded in his top group, most notably Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Clemson and Alabama.
How have the Tigers remained on top for the nation’s top-ranked corner? A simple formula involving communication, opportunity and a notorious defensive backs coach.
“By their communication,” Surtain told SEC Country on Tuesday. “The communication part — by how much they talk to me and the future plans that they have for me. They’re a great team. When they communicate with me, I feel like I know them well.”
“They’ve been telling me how important I am to them and how I fit into their future plans,” he added. “They talk about how I’d fit into the team defensive backs-wise. [LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond] sees me as a lock-down corner, as someone who can lock down his side of the field.”
John Battle, Donte Jackson and Kelvin Toliver are some of the underclassmen in LSU’s secondary eligible to enter the NFL draft after the 2017 season, which could leave an open competition at cornerback opposite of Greedy Williams. As this season has demonstrated by Raymond installing Grant Delpit and Kary Vincent Jr. as starters, there is no hesitation about freshmen playing critical roles right away.
Based on talks with the Tigers’ coaching staff, Surtain envisions competing for playing time immediately in Baton Rouge, where he has family nearby.
“I feel like because of the skill set and what I bring to the table, that I could fill that role,” he said. “I plan to go into camp and earn my spot. I know that I’ll give it all and compete to the best of my ability … I envision making a lot of plays [at LSU]. I just enjoy myself there and it could be great for my family to watch me and support me. I want to make them proud and for them to be happy.”
Signing day is only four months out and Surtain is in the process of scheduling his official visits. LSU is sure to host the U.S. Army All-America. Clemson, Ohio State, Florida State, Florida and Alabama are also in the mix for the other four.
While LSU has remained out in front for Surtain, that doesn’t mean that his recruitment is over. Expect the official visits to play a key role in whether the Tigers stay on top through Feb. 7.
“It’s about the school that best fits me,” Surtain said. “I’m looking for the school that gives me a home vibe around campus.”
Surtain confirmed that LSU already meets that criteria because of the longstanding relationship with Raymond and some of the current players. It also hits on another important element in his decision-making process.
Raymond’s pitch about grooming the 5-star corner into a NFL-caliber player has resonated with Surtain, who has aspirations of one day being in the league.
“Coach Raymond believes that if I go to LSU, then I could play there for three years and help me get to the league,” Surtain explained. “When I’m choosing a school, it’s about where I can compete, earn a starting job and get to the NFL. I believe Coach Raymond is a great defensive backs coach and he’s put a lot of defensive backs into the league.”
Expect Surtain to begin taking official visits during his senior season and a few after. No dates have been determined and LSU could be in the mix for the final official visit.
Surtain watched as the Tigers fell to Troy last weekend at homecoming, but the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Florida native is not letting a disappointing loss detract from the big picture.
“Yeah, it was a tough loss, but they were still competing and they could still have a good season,” he said. “It [the loss] impacts it a little, but I’m not basing my decision off of what I’ve seen. It’s about the depth chart in the future and the schools I fit in.”
Dare Rosenthal reaffirms commitment to Tigers
Concern in Baton Rouge has reached an all-time high in the last four days. LSU lost its homecoming game to a team from the Sun Belt Conference, then 48 hours later, the team’s longest-tenured commitment opted to reopen his recruitment.
Expecting a domino effect? Don’t look to Ferriday, La.
Dare Rosenthal, a 4-star defensive line commitment, reaffirmed his commitment to LSU and to coach Ed Orgeron on Tuesday. The 6-7, 331-pounder who rarely shares his thoughts and feelings on social media took to Twitter to declare he is LSU-bound.
I will not change #GeauxTigers.
— Dare Rosenthal (@rudeboyy_24) October 3, 2017
Mississippi State and Florida State were both attempting to flip the Ferriday High School standout, who is having a monster season at defensive tackle. He is also seeing snaps at offensive tackle, another potential position for the Louisiana blue-chipper.
Losing Rosenthal would have been a major hiccup for LSU’s 2018 recruiting class. Time and time again, Orgeron has maintained that the team needs to improve in the trenches. Orgeron and area recruiter Dennis Johnson are among the only two coaches allowing Rosenthal to compete at his desired defensive line spot, which has helped the Tigers’ cause throughout the recruiting process.
Whether Rosenthal plays defensive end or tackle — or eventually flips to the offensive side of the ball — he’s definitely an elite prospect in this class. He’s teammates with fellow LSU commitment Dantrieze Scott, a 3-star athlete projected to be an edge rusher for the Tigers.
Florida, Auburn emerge as front-runners for Anthony Schwartz
Anthony Schwartz released a top 6 in July before making unofficial stops at LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and Southern California. His visit to the Bayou was his first, and ultimately may have been his last.
Schwartz, a 4-star Under Armour All-American wide receiver, has named Florida and Auburn as his leading schools. Those are the staffs pushing the hardest for the speedy dual-sports star and those are the campuses he’s frequented the most, where he feels most comfortable.
Despite continued efforts from members of the LSU coaching staff to bring him back to campus, Schwartz is likely moving on from the Tigers.
“Just when I went there, I didn’t really see myself there,” Schwartz told SEC Country on Tuesday. “I like the school. I like the program, I just felt it wasn’t a fit for me.”
Schwartz has since made another unofficial visit to Florida and will return to The Plains this weekend for Auburn’s tilt against Ole Miss. A decision timeline is not yet set, but could come toward the end of his senior season at American Heritage.
As far as LSU’s chances of getting back into the mix …
“They have been trying to get me back onto campus,” Schwartz said, “but they’re starting to fall off a little bit.”
Perhaps that was inevitable, as LSU has shifted all of its focus onto in-state wide receivers such as Terrace Marshall, Lawrence Keys III, Ja’Marr Chase, Devonta Jason and Pooka Williams, as well as fellow Florida 4-star Justin Watkins.
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