The LSU football season is in full gear, but recruiting never stops.
The early signing period in December is now just weeks away and coach Ed Orgeron and Co. still have plenty to do to help close out a top-10 recruiting class and address several key positions of need.
Every month, SEC Country will outline the three biggest items the LSU coaching staff must accomplish on the recruiting trail to make that a reality. Here is the to-do list for October.
Bring Badara Traore to campus
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the first month of the LSU football season has been sporadic offensive line play. The team trotted out two freshmen at right guard to open the season and has since turned to veteran Adrian Magee to try to shore up protection as the SEC schedule rolls on.
LSU currently holds commitments from three talented offensive linemen, including Cameron Wire, Louisiana’s top offensive tackle, top-300 guard Chasen Hines and Under Armour All-American center Cole Smith. As the Tigers look to round out an impressive 2018 haul, their sights remain set on one more tackle.
Top junior college offensive tackle Badara Traore had flirted with the idea of making an unofficial visit to Baton Rouge last weekend for LSU’s home game against Troy. That would have been a significant bump for LSU’s stock because it would have given the coaching staff an opportunity to make progress with the 4-star prospect. Nonetheless, LSU is one of a handful of teams sure to host Traore for an official visit at some point this fall ahead of a December decision.
Traore would be an ideal piece to round out LSU’s offensive line haul for the 2018 class. The team has been a victim of serious attrition due to a bevy of transfers dating back to last offseason, particularly along the line. The 6-foot-8, 315-pound Traore would have an opportunity to compete for playing time beginning this spring.
Lock in Harold Joiner
Alabama 4-star running back Harold Joiner is slated to return to LSU on Oct. 14 when the Tigers host Auburn in primetime. It will be Joiner’s first official visit and it represents a prime opportunity for the Tigers to lock in the top-5 running back in the 2018 class.
LSU is already in a strong position at running back, with commitments from Florida 3-star Chris Curry and Alabama 3-star Tae Provens. But Joiner — at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds — is a more of a workhorse-style back to give the Tigers a punishing addition to their backfield, which will likely lose both Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams after the season.
Joiner has publicly named LSU as his leading option, but is garnering increased attention from the Crimson Tide coaching staff after the team swung and missed on 5-star Zamir White, who committed to Georgia, and 4-star Asa Martin , who committed to Auburn. While Alabama continues to push for both of those blue-chip running backs, Joiner has made a handful of unofficial stops in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in the past few weeks. The Tide represent LSU’s biggest competition for the Alabama native.
The Oct. 14 official visit should give LSU a major opportunity to seal the deal with Joiner, who could make a decision soon after the visit or not long after his senior season. The U.S. Army All-American would be a welcomed addition to the Tigers’ 2018 recruiting class in need of backfield depth.
Continue push for Anthony Cook
For some, LSU being named to Anthony Cook’s final three was a bit of a surprise. Those in Cook’s camp were expecting it, though.
LSU made a strong move for the 5-star cornerback in the aftermath of the Tigers’ spring game. The Houston native took in the game and the defensive backs meeting anchored by Corey Raymond. Both Raymond and Orgeron have since dialed up the intensity on Cook leading into his Oct. 14 official visit and Oct. 30 decision date.
Ohio State has long been deemed the leader for Cook, who took his official visit to Columbus in September. He visited Texas last weekend and will make his final visit to LSU before finalizing his decision.
Sources close to the U.S. Army All-American have maintained that while the Buckeyes are the favorite, it is not a done deal and LSU is the team to watch as his decision approaches. An impressionable official visit on Oct. 14 when LSU hosts Auburn could go a long way in restructuring Cook’s list of top schools. There is reason to be optimistic about the Tigers’ chances late in the process.
LSU could lose both Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver to the NFL after this season. The team currently holds commitments from 4-star defensive back Kelvin Joseph and 3-star nickel safety Ar’Darius Washington and remains the leader for 5-star cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. Cook would be an additional option to play outside at cornerback and compete for playing time early on.
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