With the close of the 2023 recruiting cycle, Death Valley Voice offers advice to LSU Tigers fans. Today, we’re talking to football fans sensing the urge to get carried away with high school stats, stars, and composite rankings.
National Signing Day closed the LSU Tigers 2023 football recruiting cycle on February 1st. Ironically, LSU failed to sign a player for the first time ever, on the day. Such is ironic because Brain Kelly closed out his second recruiting cycle in Baton Rouge with the nation’s 5th-ranked class. LSU maximized early National Signing Day to gain 25 new Tigers players in what has become the new normal.
Additionally, Kelly brings 11 transfer players to Death Valley in 2023. But transfers don’t sign with their new programs, they enroll with the university. Such is an important distinction when discussing recruiting classes, their grades, and rankings. For all intents and purposes, we are excluding LSU’s transfer players from this discussion.
College media outlets, pundits, and fans primarily fill offseason topic gaps by ranking and grading recruiting classes. LSU Tigers fans enjoy bragging and debating a recruit’s high school highlights and stars as much as the next. However, stats, stars, and composite rankings cannot be the ‘end all, be all’ regarding a recruit or recruiting classes’ potential. LSU Tigers fans must consider some recruits are early risers while others are late bloomers. Also, some recruits are future superstars that few saw coming.
No program has the ultimate crystal ball to include the LSU Tigers. It is challenging to project dynamics like one’s success in specific systems, schemes, or with particular position coaches. Also, one must consider the number of players that switch positions before or after their first collegiate practice. Finally, fans must recognize the unpredictability of one’s ability to physically and mentally mature while in a college town like Baton Rouge. Few coaches understand this more than Brian Kelly.
Kelly struck gold with Harold Perkins (5-star) and Mason Taylor (3-star) in his 2022 recruiting class. Perkins was as predictable of a home run as a recruit can be in this era of college football. But in Taylor, Kelly recognized an underrated recruit with NFL lineage who would develop quickly. At the same time, the LSU Tigers head coach swung and missed on 2022 recruits, including Walker Howard and Jaelyn Davis-Robinson. Either way, college football recruiting is often a constant crapshoot influenced by NIL and transfer portal opportunities.
Ultimately, LSU Tigers fans have every right to be excited for the ’23 class but with a grain of salt. Like every batch of new Bayou Bengals, some will not work out regardless of projection. But, likewise, there are young, under-the-radar Tigers that will emerge as star players. Perhaps, the next Justin Jefferson is preparing for his freshman season in Death Valley.