LSU Recruiting In Limbo Following Coaching Staff Changes

    The state of LSU's in-state recruiting is in limbo following a recent pair of staff changes. Ed Orgeron's tenure in Baton Rouge hasn't started off as well as he might have hoped.

    February 8, 2017

    The state of LSU’s in-state recruiting is in limbo following a recent pair of staff changes. Ed Orgeron’s tenure in Baton Rouge hasn’t started off as well as he might have hoped. 

    Open your eyes, Baton Rouge. There’s a new sheriff in town.

    That was made abundantly clear in the past week when Ed Orgeron steered through the storm and came out the other side with 23 signees and the No. 7 overall class in the 2017 recruiting cycle.

    But then, without hesitation, he dropped the hammer. The Tigers fired wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig and demoted running backs coach Jabbar Juluke after one season with the program. Neither move was applauded, and certain people took exception to Juluke’s “re-assignment.”

    Juluke spent nine seasons as the head coach at Edna Karr in New Orleans, and he established quite the reputation in the community. He’s well respected there. So, when it appeared he had essentially been used to hold Orgeron’s recruiting class together, there were definitely some feathers ruffled in the Pelican State.

    On Tuesday, news broke of a meeting between some of those high school head coaches in the New Orleans area. They planned to discuss a potential ban for LSU, preventing Orgeron’s staff from recruiting their players. As WGNO reported following the gathering, the final ruling was that no ban would be implemented, as it would hurt the kids more than LSU itself.

    Surely, some credit has to be given to Orgeron. When he learned of the meeting, LSU’s head coach hopped on the phone — presumably as calm as a politician could — and began the healing process. Clearly, he smoothed things over, but we can’t help but wonder if that wasn’t, in part, due to the coaches he hired to replace Craig and Juluke.

    Tuesday afternoon, after Juluke was re-hired by Texas Tech as the Red Raiders’ running backs coach and associate head coach, it was announced that LSU had hired USC running backs coach Tommie Robinson, who will also serve as assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator. With Robinson’s hire also came the hiring of Mickey Joseph as wide receivers coach.

    Joseph is a former Nebraska quarterback, a native of Marrero, Louisiana, and a former high school star at Archbishop Shaw. Ironically, he was hired by Louisiana Tech following the 2015-16 season to replace Juluke, who had left the Bulldogs for a spot with Texas Tech before leaving for LSU weeks later — hence the “re-hiring” phrasing.

    It isn’t farfetched to believe Joseph’s hiring might have served a secondary purpose in that it appeased the New Orleans community. Joseph seems to believe the waters are calm now that he’s on board in Baton Rouge.

    “I have good relationships with these coaches. They’re not going to shut LSU out. They’re not going to shut Mickey Joseph out. They know at the end of the day I do what’s best for the university and what’s best for those kids,” Joseph told The Advocate.

    So was the primary purpose behind Joseph’s hiring to please the life source of LSU’s football program? While tons of programs preach the importance of “locking down the borders,” it rings truer in Louisiana than it does in most other states – most especially with regards to New Orleans.

    Since 2010, 56 percent of the players LSU has signed have been in-state recruits — not including players like Grant Delpit, who’s originally from New Orleans but was displaced by Hurricane Katrina. But with the 2017 class — the one Orgeron held onto with blistering, bare fists — we saw something strange happen. Of the Tigers’ 23 signees, only eight were from Louisiana. That is the fewest amount of in-state signees since the 2005 class, which also produced eight.

    Here’s where things get interesting. That 2005 recruiting class was similar to the 2017 haul in the sense that it was Les Miles’ first as head coach at LSU. He was hired on January 2, 2005. The glaring difference, however, is that Miles had less than a month to finish off that class, whereas Orgeron has been in the driver’s seat since the end of September.

    As we know, the Mad Hatter revved up recruiting the next season and sustained it up until he was let go last year. Players like Leonard Fournette and Malachi Dupre were all purple and gold, all the way, despite attempts from other Power Five programs.

    Now, Orgeron finds himself sitting in the same chair Miles did — figuratively and literally. But he’s walking a much tighter rope than his predecessor.

    The Tigers flirted with danger this past week. And, sure, it appears all will return to normal now that Joseph is on the staff. But there are no quick fixes in recruiting. It’s largely about politicking and all about relationships.

    Now Orgeron finds himself in a precarious position, having to spend the next year or so mending relationships in order to calm the waters of his program’s most important recruiting base. Until then, LSU’s in-state recruiting will remain in limbo.

    MORE: Grading The LSU Tigers’ 2017 Recruiting Class


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