LSU must move on to Williams, Beckwith


The real recruitment starts now.

That's the prevalent opinion on Twitter, at least, after news spread that defensive end Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) -- the nation's top recruit -- committed to Clemson on Thursday.

With half a year to go until national signing day, plenty of people are bound to believe that commitment won't stand the test of time. There are plenty of other schools with plenty to offer, and they likely won't stand by and allow Clemson to take the jewel of this year's class unchallenged.

With that in mind, it remains to be seen how that will affect LSU's relationship with the Georgia native. Nkemdiche has often expressed his interest in what the Tigers (the Louisiana version) have to offer, and he has gone as far as to come to campus. But Nkemdiche did fail to make an appearance at last week's football camp on LSU's campus -- one he was slated to attend.

Furthermore, LSU is at an inherent disadvantage geographically with Nkemdiche. Living right outside Atlanta, the superstar defensive end prospect is surrounded by a bevy of college powerhouses, which leaves LSU having to work extra hard to catch up. With Nkemdiche having committed, how hard are the Tigers willing to work to change his mind?

It's definitely too early to close the book on the nation's most talented prospect. He might likely change his mind, even if it's not in LSU's favor. But it's never a smart idea to bank your hopes on the decision of the class' most sought-after prospect. The Tigers still have plenty of talented defensive prospects on their radar -- all of whom seem more likely to don purple and gold than Nkemdiche.

Tim Williams (Baton Rouge, La./LSU Laboratory) and Kendell Beckwith (Jackson, La./East Feliciana) are the two obvious names here -- we've been harping on them in this space all spring. It gets repetitive, but there's not much else to say when considering LSU's top options for 2013 pass-rushers, especially with Nkemdiche off the board. Sitting at No. 27 in the ESPN 150, Williams is the second-best pure defensive end left who has not committed this year.

Beckwith has made it known he'd prefer to play standing up in a linebacker role, but he's also mentioned to me that even as a linebacker he hopes to spend a good chunk of his time rushing the passer.

Both guys are elite talents and both come from Louisiana. The only wrinkle in the equation is that Nkemdiche was a coveted prospect in Alabama's recruiting plan as well. As if things weren't already contentious enough, the Tigers can expect the Crimson Tide to push harder for these two now.

Tigers fans have also been waiting for good news regarding Greg Gilmore (Hope Mills, N.C./South View) for some time now. Gilmore recently named LSU as his favorite to this point in the recruiting process. Gilmore is visiting Alabama this weekend, but he said Sunday that everyone is trailing behind LSU and Florida at this point. Of course, Nkemdiche's commitment could also grab Gilmore's attention -- the 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive tackle has expressed interest in the ACC's Tigers.

Gilmore isn't a defensive end, but an elite defensive tackle commitment would help to alleviate concerns about a defensive line that could be decimated after the 2012 season.

The Tigers already have a nice start at defensive end for 2013 in ESPN 300 member Frank Herron (Memphis, Tenn./Memphis Central). And Michael Patterson (Winnfield, La./Winnfield) has the look of an in-state find. But the addition of one of these elite pass-rushers would do wonders, especially since the dream of Nkemdiche appears to be over.