With the newly hired Brad Davis already hired to replace former offensive line coach James Cregg, now the LSU football program must retool its recruiting approach.
Football recruiting is most often about relationships. Recruits generally pick a program for the coach or coaches on the sidelines over the name of the institution on the game jersey.
Believe that. It’s real.
Before going into the overall theme of this article, let’s back up a second. Why in the world did LSU change coaches, in the middle of summer?
With LSU coach Ed Orgeron firing (or parting ways, if one prefers) offensive line Coach James Cregg for reported recruiting violations, it brought about many concerns for not only the upcoming 2021 season, but 2022 recruiting as well.
That’s probably why Orgeron immediately hired Brad Davis, formerly the offensive line coach for Arkansas, to join the Tigers' staff. In recruiting, those aforementioned relationships matter. Here’s an example.
Tigers Lose Offensive Line Commitment
The Tigers landed the commitment of Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul’s Episcopal offensive lineman Lucas Taylor long ago, but with the departure of Cregg, he changed his commitment from LSU to Mississippi State. Just like that.
Maybe he was not feeling LSU as much anyway. Hard to say. It is unusual, however, for the Tigers to lose a recruit to the Bulldogs. That program simply does not hold the cache with recruits that LSU possesses. That’s just reality.
Was Cregg’s departure the only reason? Maybe, maybe not. What cannot be understated is that relationships matter now for LSU recruiting, and could be just as important down the line.
“He's an outstanding coach, outstanding recruiter, I like that a lot of our guys have been recruited by him,” Orgeron said on Off tothe Bench. “We had three offensive line recruits in and a lot of the parents already knew him, he had great relationships.
"Being from Baton Rouge, we know we gotta take care of our back yard first and it starts in Baton Rouge and throughout Louisiana. Brad has a lot of connections, knows a lot of people."
What Does the Coaching Change Mean for Recruiting?
While Davis may be a world beater as a coach, he may not have been recruiting all the players for the Razorbacks that the Tigers were recruiting. So, while his experience and expertise is “Game Changing” according to Orgeron, recruits and their parents may not know Davis quite like they know other coaches that already built relationships with them.
That simply means the Tigers are playing catch up with any current offensive line prospects that Davis was not already ardently recruiting while with Arkansas. With about six months until the first national signing day, LSU will be pressed to land the type of talent needed to compete in the SEC West.
There’s no hyperbole here. One cannot make up for time lost. It is what it is. LSU fans will soon know if Coach Davis and Coach Orgerson can recruit, because playing from behind is really hard with recruiting for many reasons, but one sticks out.
Parents want to know the person they are turning their son over to if that person can help him on and off the gridiron. The more time they know the coach in question, the more likely that particular program will hold a chance to sign a prospect.
Options for LSU Recruiting
While a difficult situation, this is still LSU football. It’s not like it’s a small program with little tradition. LSU is less than two years removed from a national title. There’s no reason to believe the Tigers will suddenly fail to land any offensive line recruits. With that in mind, two key points.
LSU will certainly continue to recruit elite prospects like Kam Dewberry and Kelvin Banks with just as much intensity. How well they receive Davis and his personality will be important. Over the course of the next two, possibly three months, LSU needs to decide if it still has a realistic shot at the same offensive line targets it truly covets while also considering looking at a few other options.
The so-called “other options” would be where it becomes intriguing. Perhaps Davis likes a few players that LSU was not already recruiting. If that is true, will he suddenly add them to the recruiting board? Maybe Davis at least calls a few offensive line recruits he wanted while at Arkansas and let them know he may recruit them for LSU?
It’s complex and interesting to think about the numerous possibilities. At the end of the day, the reason for all the possible recruiting scenarios is a coach change during the middle of a recruiting campaign. Change in the middle of the summer is almost never good anyway, but for recruiting, it’s especially difficult.
LSU football will need to adjust. That much is quite clear. Recruiting offensive linemen was and still is a priority for this recruiting class, so the Tigers need to figure out their direction and do so in a hurry.
Will LSU be able to land the coveted offensive line targets that it needs? That’s really hard to say. Davis is the new man in charge, and he has a tough recruiting assignment ahead of him for the class of 2022.