As LSU enters the summer recruiting cycle with an already loaded 2022 class, the Tigers are showing no signs of slowing down with numerous highly touted prospects set to visit Death Valley in the coming months.
With COVID-19 affecting on-campus visits last summer, LSU enters one of the most important stretches in recruiting to continue adding to an already top tier class.
Currently, the Tigers sit with the third ranked recruiting class in the nation and second best in the SEC behind Georgia.
Very few players have the ability to step in day one and make an impact on the field, but the Tigers find themselves with quite a few players built for this stage already.
Here are a few players we believe have the instincts and intangibles to step in day one and make a difference for the Tigers:
Will Campbell, OT, 6’6”, 285-pounds, Monroe (La.) Neville
It’s rare to see a true freshman come in and provide key snaps in a powerful division like the SEC West, but for Campbell, his size and athleticism gives him the opportunity to do just that. With Campbell taking pride in his technique and pass block ability, the menace of a human being has the chance to break the mold and give the Tigers an offensive tackle who can start right out the gate.
"With my athletic ability, I can adjust to your speed rush, your skinny defensive ends and then I'm also big enough to handle your 6'5, 270 defensive ends at the same time," Campbell said. "I come off the ball really well, I roll my hips and I finish my blocks and I just try to be nasty on the field. I'm a nice guy off the field but when it comes time to play I try and flip a switch."
Campbell’s ability to move his feet with the combination ofgood hand placement and sheer power to overwhelm opposing defensive linemen is what makes him a man amongst boys in the high school game.
His diligent work in the weight room is what has separated him from his peers as his technique and footwork are already ahead of the game. Look for Campbell to make an immediate impact for the Tigers and continue advancing in his game before hitting campus.
AJ Johnson, WR, 6’4”, 205-pounds, New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman
With LSU bringing back their spread offense, Johnson fits the mold perfectly. A receiver who reaches the ball at its highest point and reals in incredibly contested balls, Johnson’s strong hands can show similarities to LSU great Ja’Marr Chase. The ability to break his defender off at the line of scrimmage and display his quick feet make it easy to find him open on virtually every play. Johnson’s physicality and ability to shake off a defender after the catch is what gives him the chance to step in day one and compete for a starting spot in this Tiger offense.
"I just feel like 99.9% of the time I will come down with the ball, my vertical is 42 inches so I'm definitely able to come down with those jump balls," Johnson said. "Since I really couldn't play for a year, I'm more explosive and that's what I've been trying to add to my game."
With LSU target Arch Manning slinging the ball to Johnson at Isidore Newman, he is already equipped to high profile talent dropping dimes to him on the field. Manning and Johnson have developed significant chemistry on the field with Johnson making play after play throughout his junior campaign.
With Johnson entering his senior year in the fall, the Tigers will be keeping tabs on Manning, hoping to pair the duo together in Death Valley. Johnson’s athleticism and physicality will make him a sure-fire threat for the Tigers next season.
JaCoby Mathews, Safety, 6’2”, 205-pounds, Ponchatoula (La.) Ponchatoula
As rare a safety as they come, Mathews has the instincts of a wide receiver with his ability to play the ball in the air and come down with the catch. Even when one-on-one with a talented wide receiver, Mathews already proved he can run with speedy athletes in the open field, and he can time his opportunities to actually catch the ball.
With an NFL frame already, Mathews has the chance to continue polishing his technique and make advances in his footwork once in Death Valley. His ability to make plays in the open field and take advantage of his speed are the types of opportunities the Tigers struggled with in the 2020 season.
Mathews versatility on the football field is one of his biggest attributes.
"They (LSU) see me really anywhere on the defense, mostly safety but they'll let me play some return man," Mathews said. "I feel good knowing that I could be used in a variety of ways."
Mathews looks to continue the dominance of LSU defensive backs once on campus next spring.
“They always tell me I'm an LSU guy, I'm an LSU DB and that I was meant to be in DBU," Mathews said. With ball skills like no other and the speed to catch opposing players in the open field, Mathews is already looking like he has next. Sharpening his skillset and working on his already impressive footwork are the next steps for the LSU commit who looks to compete for a starting spot his first day on campus.
This recruiting class the Tigers staff has put together is nothing short of spectacular as both sides of the ball are getting an influx of talent. With immediate impact guys such as Will Campbell, AJ Johnson and Jacoby Mathews coming in next year, the Tigers will look to continue developing this roster into national championship contenders.
With one of the best recruiters in college football in Coach Ed Orgeron, the 2022 class is nowhere near complete heading into the summer. As highly touted prospects begin visiting campus and getting a better understanding of what LSU is about, this class will only continue gaining more and more immediate impact players.