LSU's Ed Orgeron hopes recruits have good short-term memory and recall win at Florida
BATON ROUGE - Success on signing days in college football is not usually a short-term project. Coaching staffs recruit players for years before the prospects put pen in hand.
But LSU coach Ed Orgeron sure hopes what his team did lately helps throughout Wednesday, which is the first day of the early signing period that lasts through Friday. The second national signing day is Feb. 3.
The Tigers upset No. 6 Florida, 37-34, on ESPN Saturday in prime time to lift some of the dark cloud hovering over a program that won the national championship at 15-0 last season but has fallen to 4-5 after a No. 5 preseason ranking. LSU won in dramatic fashion on a school-record, 57-yard field goal by Cade York with 23 seconds left. Then Southeastern Conference East champion Florida missed a 51-yard attempt to bring on overtime as time expired.
"They all watched the game," Orgeron said of his recruits. "We were on solid ground with most of our recruits before the game, but it does help. Recruits can have a short memory - what you did yesterday."
Since LSU offered up its bowl this season last week as a self-imposed sanction toward incoming penalties for NCAA violations by the football program in recent years, the Tigers end the season Saturday (2:30 p.m., SEC Network) at home against Ole Miss (4-4).
"It was a huge win," Orgeron said. "I think it's reassurance. I think the game gives us some momentum this week."
Momentum for Ole Miss and for recruiting, that is, as college football teams across the country experience a rarity this week - a signing day and a game in the same four-day span. This happened because COVID-19 delayed the start of the regular season and pushed what usually ends in late November or early December until nearly Christmas.
"You always have the phone in your pocket, and I'm always available," Orgeron said. "We're talking to parents all the time. We're talking to recruits all the time. We have unlimited phone calls with them. It's kind of 24-7, and you've got to balance your time. Everybody's dealing with the same thing. We've got to balance it right down the middle."
LSU has 19 known commitments toward its class of 2021. Orgeron expects to sign a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 20 on Wednesday.
"It's very fluid right now," he said. "I think in between those numbers would be a good range."
That ranking will rise if LSU is able to sign non-committed five-star prospect Maason Smith, who is the No. 1 overall player in the nation by Rivals.com out of Terrebonne High in Houma. That is Orgeron's Cajun homeland as he is from LaRose - just 35 miles away. Smith (6-foot-5, 316 pounds) is the No. 1 player in the state by 247 Sports.
"I feel strongly that LSU will get Maason," recruiting expert Michael Scarborough of Tigerbait.com said. "Coach Orgeron has been recruiting him since about the time he became head coach (in 2016). They've done a great job for years. COVID-19 probably helped in a way because he was not able to make as many trips as in a normal year."
Georgia has given LSU the most competition.
Smith has 34 offers in all, including from Alabama, Florida, Ole Miss, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, USC and Penn State. He is expected to announce his decision at 3:30 p.m.
For Smith and virtually every other player LSU signs there appears to be an opportunity for playing time, considering how much the Tigers have struggled on both sides of the ball at times.
"Last year's recruiting class was phenomenal," said Orgeron, who is on the verge of his third straight top five class after a No. 5 in 2019 and a No. 4 in 2020. "A lot of those guys are playing already. The sophomores (from 2019) are doing a very good job. For next year, we should have a very strong team - a very strong nucleus with the class we're going to have this year."