LSU entered Friday holding verbal commitments from 10 of the top 14 prospects hailing from Louisiana in the class of 2016, according to Scout.com. Missing from those 10, though, was the state’s No. 1 recruit.
That’s no longer the case. Five-star defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence announced Friday that he will attend LSU, picking the Tigers over Ohio State. Lawrence's commitment boosts LSU’s 2016 recruiting class to the No. 1 ranking, according to Scout.com
Lawrence indicated earlier this month that LSU and Ohio State were his top two schools. He previously released a top five that also included Alabama, Washington and UCLA. Lawrence took official visits to UCLA, Ohio State and LSU and conducted in-home visits this month with both the Buckeyes and Tigers. Ultimately Ohio State couldn’t convince Lawrence to leave the Pelican State.
The 6’3”, 300-pound senior is the No. 6 defensive tackle and No. 21 player in the class of 2016, according to Scout.com, which notes that Lawrence “will enter college ready to compete for playing time.”
The Tigers had already secured commitments from two of the top three defensive tackles from Louisiana—four-star prospects Ed Alexander and Glen Logan—in addition to the state’s top two defensive ends, four-star prospect Andre Anthony and three-star prospect Caleb Roddy. That’s an impressive group of defensive linemen for one class even without Lawrence. With him, LSU has depth on the inside and the edge and a legitimate star prospect who has the potential to make an impact in the SEC right away.
Lawrence’s decision comes less than a week after another promising development for the Tigers’ defensive line in 2016: End Lewis Neal announced he will return for his senior season after racking up 9.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2015.
Lawrence becomes the top-ranked recruit in LSU’s class, which includes one other five-star commitment from IMG (Fla.) Academy cornerback Saivion Smith. Another top-tier cornerback, Archbishop Rummel (La.) High’s Kristian Fulton, said this week that LSU is his leader “as of now.”
Whomever the Tigers add between now and National Signing Day on Feb. 3, they’ve already compiled a strong class after an up-and-down season in which coach Les Miles reportedly came close to being fired.
One position LSU is still trying to address in this recruiting cycle is quarterback. Longtime commit Feleipe Franks, the No. 5 QB in the class of 2016, reopened his recruitment in November before pledging to Florida. Another Tigers target, Dwayne Haskins Jr., the No. 13 QB in the class, flipped from Maryland to Ohio State this week.