Tigers cap off early signing day with nation’s top DT Smith

Scooter Hobbs

At the end of a usual up-and-down national signing day, LSU landed the state’s biggest unclaimed fish to cap off the early national signing period.

Head coach Ed Orgeron went back to his bayou roots to get defensive tackle Maason Smith out of Terrebonne High School in Houma, where Smith was rated as the nation’s top prospect in some circles.

Orgeron, who juggled the signing day while preparing for Saturday’s game against Ole Miss, was unavailable for comment due the team’s regular practice session.

But the LaRose native had to be happy in winning a recruiting battle for Smith that went right down to the wire, mostly fighting off Georgia, Alabama and Miami.

“There are other coaches at other big-time schools,” Smith said via Twitter. “No other coach is where I’m from.”

Smith was second to last of LSU’s 19 signees Wednesday — and maybe the last in the early period which extends to Friday. After that, recruits must wait until Feb. 3 to sign.

Smith was one of two consensus 5-star recruits to sign late in the day, joining safety Sage Ryan of Lafayette Christian. But, unlike Smith, Christian had long been committed to the Tigers.

With the late addition of those two, 247Sports rated the Tigers’ class No. 3 in the nation, just ahead of Georgia and trailing only Alabama and Ohio State.

In addition to Smith and Sage, it included Ohio’s Mr. Football with running back Cory Kiner and the top-rated player in Mississippi in wide receiver Deion Smith.

The group included seven players from Louisiana, along with three from Mississippi, two from Texas and one each from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Maryland and Georgia.

As usual there was some good and bad news —the Tigers went 2-2 on recruiting’s so-called “flips” — although none were shockers.

LSU lost two to Alabama and lured two from Mississippi State.

The Tigers took a pair of players who’d pledged to Mississippi State — wide receiver/athlete Malik Nabers of Southside High in Lafayette and Navonteque Strong, who was rated the nation’s No. 1 junior college middle linebacker while at Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College.

LSU did lose out on defensive end Keanu Koht of Vero Beach, Fla., who’d been committed to the Tigers since July, but flipped to Alabama on signing day. The Tide also got JoJo Earle, a wide receiver from Aledo, Texas, to decommit from the Tigers and go with Bama.

But wide receiver was still one of the strengths of the class, with three signing and Naber a possibility to play there.

The receivers will also include Deion Smith, the top-rated player in Mississippi (Jackson) and Chris Hilton of Zachary and Jack Bech of Lafayette’s St. Thomas More High School.

The postition breakdown also included four defensive backs, three defensive linemen, two linebackerss, along with one quarterback, offensive lineman, running back, tight end and punter.

Orgeron had said going into the signing day that he needs more offensive linemen to join Garrett Dellinger of Clarkston, Mich., in the class.

He expects to remedy that, he said, by looking into the transfer portpal, graduate transfers and junior college transfers.Despite an up and down season, head coach Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers managed to land the nations top defensive tackle in Terrebonne’s Maason Smih.

John Raoux / Associated Press

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