BATON ROUGE, La. -- With national signing day two weeks away, LSU is close to the finish line, but the Tigers still have some big names they are after:
Team needs: LSU was decimated on the defensive line by graduation and early NFL draft entrees.
The Tigers will be without six of the nine defensive linemen who played the majority of the snaps, including three potential first-round NFL draft picks, led by lightning-quick speed-rushing end Barkevious Mingo.
The Tigers will also need help in a secondary that has lost six key players in the last two seasons. Two starters left after this season for the NFL, including free safety Eric Reid, a team leader.
On offense, the Tigers lack a big receiver and need tight end help. LSU also needed to replenish at quarterback and the offensive line in anticipation of future losses.
Help is on the way: With its reputation for putting defensive linemen and defensive backs into the NFL, LSU has had little trouble finding candidates to fill those needs. Greg Gilmore is the highest-rated of four defensive tackle commitments, and Christian LaCouture will try to use his early arrival for the spring semester to help propel him to early playing time.
At defensive end, the Tigers have a trio of commitments, led by highly regarded end Frank Herron. There' a chance the highest-rated player in the class, Kendell Beckwith, could also wind up at end, though he might also play linebacker.
In the secondary, the buzz is that cornerback Tre'Davious White could come in and immediately battle for meaningful snaps.
At receiver, LSU is hoping 6-foot-4 junior college transfer Quantavius Leslie qualifies academically to give the Tigers the big, downfield target it covets, while Hayden Rettig and Anthony Jennings will battle to be the Tigers' quarterback of the future. Look for junior college transfer tight end Logan Stokes to compete for the starting job in the spring, and pass-catching tight end Desean Smith could find a niche at the position with his extraordinary ball skills.
Other key commits: Jeryl Brazil is a player who should make a quick impact; it's just a matter of where. He came out of the summer projecting as a cornerback, but he was so dynamic with the ball in his hands as a senior, there's talk of him playing on offense, possibly at running back. Ethan Pocic leads the offensive line signees and early enrollment will allow him to get a jump start.
Other key targets: LSU is after a list of big names -- Robert Nkemdiche, Priest Willis, possibly Tahaan Goodman and others, though the Tigers do not seem like leaders for any of them. The Tigers will also look to fill needs, starting with the secondary, where defensive back Eddie Jackson is a solid possibility.