LSU needs to sign at least one top-notch tight end within this recruiting cycle. There are different paths that the Tigers could utilize to allow that situation to materialize.
The Tigers’ tight end depth chart is shaky at best. There’s limited depth, experience, and playmaking ability. Here’s a look at what’s possible for the recruiting class of 2022.
LSU’s tight end position has been a big part of the offense the past two seasons, and it’s expected to continue to be a productive part of what the Tigers accomplish for 2021 and beyond. How the Tigers fill at least one scholarship with a tight end for the class of 2022, could be interesting, however.
With Arik Gilbert transferring, LSU does not possess a true playmaker at the position on the current roster. Here’s how LSU recruited the tight end position the past two recruiting cycles:
2021: Jalen Shead, 6-foot-4, 240, Olive Branch (Miss.) - No. 928 Composite ranking
2020: Arik Gilbert - Transferring after one season in Baton Rouge; was considered a national top 25 prospect by practically every scout in America.
Kole Taylor- appeared in two games as a starter after Gilbert's opt out.
There you have it. LSU still holds a mere one scholarship tight end from the past three recruiting classes. With that stated, a couple of things to consider.
First, LSU was slapped scholarship restrictions for NCAA violations. The Tigers are allowed only 81 scholarship players for 2021 and 2022. Thus, that’s four less scholarships for this and the next recruiting class. That’s going to make it more difficult for LSU to bring in two tight ends for the class of 2022, but the need at tight end is great. Tough spot for LSU.
Second, LSU could go the junior college route again. An older player might be ready to physically take on the SEC better than most college freshmen. It’s a possibility, at the very least.
LSU is in a position to land multiple top tight ends if things fall the right way.
Jake Johnson, TE, 6-foot-5, 215, Watkinsville (Ga.) Oconee County
The brother of LSU quarterback Max Johnson, the younger sibling is a big-time prospect with offers from several programs including LSU, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Alabama, Clemson and Florida State amongst several offers.
The Tigers are considered the odds-on favorite, and rightfully so. If the Tigers land Johnson, would they take another tight end? That’s the interesting question.
There are several other tight end prospects that the Tigers could go after, and LSU is in the hunt for Holden Staes, 6-foot-4, 220, Atlanta (Westminster School), Jaleel Skinner, 6-foot-5, 215, Greer (S.C.) High School, and possibly other prospects as well; again, do not discount LSU taking a junior college tight end.
Staes is a true flex tight end, as is Skinner. LSU wants playmakers and these two young men are talented after the catch. Further, both players could grow into more traditional tight ends after going through a college weight program. Both players are thin for their size.
Look for the tight end board to expand during and after spring. LSU needs to land at least one tight end, and it cannot be left without a signee. Expect new names to emerge.
Bottom line, LSU’s tight end position is quite thin. While the Tigers look to be the best bet to land Johnson, one tight end may not be enough. Will the Tigers take a second tight end? If they do, will it be a junior college prospect to add immediate size and strength?
There are several plausible scenarios that one could consider. Bottom line, LSU has different routes in may take to reach its intended goal of bringing the tight end depth chart back to balance.