Tomorrow is National Signing Day for college football, in what has surprisingly become a sort of afterthought overnight with the onset of “Early” National Signing Day in December.
Two years ago in May, after the 2018 National Signing Day had passed, head coach Ed Orgeron hosted graduate transfer Joe Burrow. The former Ohio State quarterback had only one request when it came to dinner time.
There was one small problem. Mike Anderson’s, the restaurant they were at, didn’t have any crawfish. So Coach O made it rain. He called Mike Anderson Jr, and after one call led to another, fifteen pounds of the Louisiana specialty was sitting at the table.
Of course, they finished it all.
Good thing for Burrow O didn’t insist on a ham sandwich, his customary meal on Saturdays after games.
All jokes aside, whether it was the crawfish or Coach O’s personality or the clear opportunity Burrow saw at LSU, the rest has become history. Less than two years later, perhaps the most unlikely recruit-turned superstar in Tiger history was raising the Heisman and national championship trophies within a month’s time.
There is a lesson here. Fans who follow recruiting shouldn’t fret if the Tigers don’t land a particular big fish tomorrow (even though Jordan Burch would be nice). LSU has lost out in the past, and one could argue that certain losses opened a later door for Burrow to seize the opportunity in Baton Rouge.
The national champion LSU Tigers sit at No. 4 in the country in the recruiting war behind Georgia, Alabama, and Clemson. They signed 19 players in December, have gained verbal commitments from five others since then, and have available one scholarship to reach the maximum number of 25.
This is where Burch could cap it all off.
The highlights of the December signees are five-star wide receiver Kashon Boutte (No. 2 WR), five-star tight end Arik Gilbert (highest rated high school TE ever), and five-star cornerback Elias Ricks (No. 2 CB). Of course this is just eye candy. Everyone knows five-stars sometimes don’t pan out and non-five-stars often explode.
Joe Burrow himself was only a Rivals three-star recruit coming out of high school.
It is unlikely that the 2020 class will feature a player of Burrow’s stature, no matter how many stars are in front of the name. No program can just pluck out a Heisman winner every year. But undoubtedly, there will be stars. Undoubtedly, there will be busts. But most importantly, there will be a hunger from some of these young cubs salivating to get a taste of the same championship glory the Tigers just tasted….
A taste not even fifteen pounds of Louisiana’s best crawfish can compare to.
Writer Jeff LeJeune has an M.A. in English, is a high school and college instructor, and is a former college athlete. In addition to his writing work for The Hayride, he is a ghostwriter, editor, and novelist. His website is www.jefflejeune.net.