LSU mailbag: More on Devonta Jason’s non-visit, the QB hunt, potential OLB coaches

Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly mailbag, a question-and-answer forum between readers and LSU team and recruiting reporter Sam Spiegelman. In this edition, we touch on Devonta Jason’s cancelled visit to LSU, which quarterback will fall to the Tigers in the 2018 recruiting class and who will be the next assistant coach added to Ed Orgeron’s staff.

This is a bit complicated, but here is my understanding of what went down …

Devonta Jason had been in contact with area recruiter and wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph about scheduling an official visit and told members of the media — myself included — the visit was set for Nov. 25 when LSU was hosting Texas A&M. From my understanding, that visit was never confirmed on the LSU side and the coaching staff wanted to spend an adequate amount of time with the 4-star wide receiver. That would not be possible with 5-star wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. and 4-star athlete Justin Watkins already scheduled to come to town.

The issue here is that Jason has a very busy schedule coming up before he graduates and enrolls early. This weekend, he heads to Kansas for an official visit. After that, he goes to Mississippi State. Jason already has plans with his family on the final weekend before the early signing period — on Dec. 15.

Because of the high volume of receivers coming to town last weekend and with no free weekends left on Jason’s calendar, that leaves the 6-foot-3, 215-pound prospect with an option to head up I-10 West to Baton Rouge for a mid-week official or to not take an official visit at all.

This is no way, shape or form an indication that Jason isn’t a priority for this coaching staff. Ed Orgeron and Joseph have made Jason, a one-time LSU commit, a priority. Going into last weekend, there was a good amount of confidence that Jason would once again be a member in the Tigers’ 2018 class. Of course, that confidence has waned a bit, but Joseph went to Algiers to check in on Jason on Monday morning at school and will return to his house on Thursday for an in-home visit.

Expect some sort of resolution after Joseph goes in-home with Jason and his family on Thursday. That could lead to an official visit being rescheduled or at least LSU learning where it stands compared to Kansas and Mississippi State moving forward. Remember that Jason will officially sign his letter of intent on Dec. 20.

LSU will  definitely land a quarterback in the 2018 class. It  has to.

Right now, Justin Rogers and James Foster are the two most-likely options. There is some confidence on the LSU side that it can flip Rogers from TCU after a very successful three-day visit to Baton Rouge last weekend. Danny Etling’s career-best performance against Texas A&M stood out to Rogers, but more importantly, his conversations with offensive coordinator Matt Canada proved to be true, which meant a good deal to both Rogers and his family.

Over the next few weeks, Rogers will have to weigh his level of comfort with TCU versus LSU. He told SEC Country that he’ll be keeping close tabs on the offense during bowl game preparation. TCU will get the last chance to host Rogers and his family on Dec. 15, right before he signs his letter of intent on Dec. 22.

I still lean toward TCU — at the moment — given that he hasn’t reopened his recruitment at this point. However, the Tigers have emerged as a much bigger threat down the stretch.

If and when Rogers signs with the Horned Frogs in December, then LSU’s next option would be Foster. The staff extended a late offer in October to the Alabama dual-threat prospect, which nearly resulted in an official visit in early November. However, the staff pushed that visit back so that they could continue to pursue Rogers and then make a full-court push for Foster if that ship had sailed.

If LSU can’t flip Rogers, then I’d expect Foster to be the quarterback in 2018.

As for Part 2 of your question, I believe both Dave Aranda and Matt Canada will return for another season. It’s only a matter of time before Aranda is tabbed to be an NFL defensive coordinator or a college head coach. That seems inevitable at this point.

Canada, on the other hand, was only rumored to be a head coaching candidate in recent days. While his resume is certainly impressive, I believe he sticks at LSU after the offense impressed over the past few games and now he’ll have an opportunity to run a system around Myles Brennan or Lowell Narcisse, two quarterbacks he helped to recruit.

Beyond that, who knows?

I’m not so sure that Orgeron will hire a new outside linebackers coach, Ed.

The position was manufactured in order to make Dennis Johnson a full-time staff member. He got a chance to work with LSU’s edge rushers, the B-linebackers, while Pete Jenkins continued to work with the defensive linemen. With Jenkins set to hang it up after the bowl game and Johnson to assume that same role, the next move will be promoting Greg McMahon from an advisory role to a full-time special teams coach.

That will put LSU at nine coaches in January, when the NCAA will formally allow schools to add a 10th assistant to the staff.

The 10th assistant coach could come on offense or defense. Personally, I believe it could be a quarterbacks coach to help with the development of Brennan, Narcisse and the 2018 quarterback. Canada is the offensive coordinator, but not the quarterbacks coach. Maybe it’s just an offensive staff position that Canada feels is necessary to effectively run his system.

It could be another outside linebackers coach. Johnson will work with the defensive line. Orgeron helps out with the B-linebackers, but maybe he has a candidate in mind for that role, too. That doesn’t seem too far-fetched. If not, Aranda already coaches the inside linebackers and could work with the F-linebackers, too.

LSU holds commitments from two wide receivers in the 2018 class: 4-star Kenan Jones and 3-star Jaray Jenkins. That’s two in the books with a haul of four likely for this cycle, maybe five depending on the personnel.

By the time Dec. 22 rolls around, I anticipate that Jones, Jenkins and Terrace Marshall Jr. are all on board. As I noted earlier, I was confident that Jason would be a part of this group, but I’ve wavered a bit given the recent turn of events with the official visit. If Jason elects to go to LSU for an official visit instead of Mississippi State or for a mid-week visit, I would certainly reconsider this stance.

Jason, as noted, is an early graduate, so he would sign on Dec. 20.

Justin Watkins, the 4-star athlete from Florida, officially visited with Marshall and is now an LSU lean. He will announce between LSU and Alabama on Jan. 4 at the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando, Fla. Right now, the choice would be the Tigers, but that could change depending on all of the new hires and if in-state schools begin to dial up the pressure on the versatile receiver.

If LSU secures a commitment from Watkins in early January, then I’d expect Lawrence Keys III to head to either Houston or Notre Dame. Both schools have continued to push hard as LSU has shifted its attention toward Watkins. Both Keys and Watkins are being recruited for the same role and seemingly Watkins has usurped Keys as the top target as a slot receiver and athlete role in Canada’s offense.

Lastly, I do not feel strongly that LSU will land Ja’Marr Chase. The elite 4-star receiver has been committed to Kansas and Florida and nearly popped to TCU over LSU back in July. LSU has long been the bridesmaid, but never the bride. I expect that trend to continue after he officially visited Michigan last week and will head to TCU on Dec. 15. Chase will eventually official visit LSU, but I believe the Tigers continue to take a back seat in his recruitment.

The post LSU mailbag: More on Devonta Jason’s non-visit, the QB hunt, potential OLB coaches appeared first on SEC Country.

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