LSU sent shockwaves through those who follow the program when it announced it had parted ways with offensive line coach James Cregg. For a staff that's already undergone so much overhaul this offseason, the timing of the move was curious.
But in less than 24 hours, reports surfaced that LSU had found its replacement, with the program settling on Arkansas' Brad Davis to take over for Cregg. And it's important that LSU moved swiftly on its new hire for a number of reasons.
Starting this week, LSU has been allowed to have recruits on campus for the first time in 15 months. High school prospects from around the country are pouring in to take tours of the campus and football ops facility while also meeting with coach Ed Orgeron. This weekend starts a series of camps for kickers, offensive and defensive linemen and skills position players as well.
It's another opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate talent and assign grades to the players the program is most interested in. All the while, the actual 2021 team is going through summer workouts and continuing to learn the ever growing playbook. That's why it was important for the Tigers to be thorough but quick with their coaching hire.
The national search was already underway for Orgeron when the Cregg news became official. LSU certainly followed the offseason blueprint of young, energetic names that could breathe new life into the position group with the Davis hire.
A couple of names that were reported that the Tigers were interested in were Ben Wilkerson, the New York Giants assistant offensive line coach, who spent his college career at LSU before joining the Tigers as a graduate assistant in 2011, Alex Atkins at Florida State and Davis at Arkansas. Those were the other candidates most commonly suggested before the program ultimately honed in on Davis.
LSU has brought in youth with its coaching staff to this point as Jake Peetz, DJ Mangas, Daronte Jones, Andre Carter and Blake Baker are all under the age of 45. It would be foolish to think Orgeron wouldn't try to hire a younger offensive line coach as well who can relate to the players. Davis certainly fits the bill at 41 years of age and having connections in Louisiana as a Baton Rouge native.
It was expected that news on this position would come fast, particularly with all of the recruiting implications it could have.
A number of the official visits this summer are from offensive linemen like Julian Armella, who is expected to visit campus this weekend. Out of state linemen like Malik Agbo, Kelvin Banks and Kam Dewberry have also planned visits for the month of June, not to mention how the current offensive linemen on the roster must now adjust to this news.
These are all names that Davis is familiar with on the recruiting trail as a member of the Arkansas coaching staff so now he needs to continue to strengthen those relationships in Baton Rouge. Davis will also need to get to work with his current players on the roster as depth behind the starters has been a concern since before the spring session.
Orgeron was able to fill the other vacant coaching positions rather quickly earlier this offseason but pulled off quite an impressive hire given the circumstances.