It has been a tumultuous decade for LSU football, with multiple coaching changes, the highs of a national championship and the lows of the program’s first losing season in over 20 years, but one thing remains constant: the Tigers’ ability to recruit within the state of Louisiana.
The Pelican State annually ranks as one of the nation’s leading producers of high school football talent, and LSU has turned its rare position as the only power conference school in such a talent-rich state into a major competitive advantage.
BetLouisiana.com broke away from Louisiana sports betting discussions to explore this phenomenon by compiling recruiting data from the Class of 2014 through the Class of 2023 and assessing how LSU’s in-state recruiting efforts compared to other top programs over this timeframe.
All information and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite and were manually verified by BetLouisiana.com.
Now, here is the inside story on the Tiger’s in-state success.
How LSU Recruiting Compares
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Numbers Don't Lie
Over the last 10 cycles, only Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State have out-recruited LSU. Since 2014, the Tigers have signed six top 5 and eight top 7 classes, with an average final class ranking of 6.1 nationally.
During this time LSU received commitments from 233 players, 110 of whom hailed from Louisiana. While filling its classes with in-state prospects at a 47.2% rate is certainly impressive, other top schools in recruiting hotbeds have exceeded this mark. However, when you dig deeper it becomes clear just how much more of a stranglehold the Tigers have on elite local recruiting versus their peer institutions.
Although Louisiana produced the fifth-most blue chip recruits of any state since 2014, its 156 total four and five-star prospects pale in comparison to the top four states, all of which have at least double the population of Louisiana. Georgia and California both supplied over twice the number of blue-chippers as Louisiana, while Texas and Florida churned out more than triple the top prospects. Every top 20 recruiting school that signed a higher rate of in-state prospects than LSU over the sample is based in one of those four states.
Nevertheless, teams in the top four states face far more competition for local talent, both from in-state rivals and outside schools looking to establish footholds in the fertile recruiting grounds. As a result of this, programs in these states are often forced to recruit the depth of their state more than LSU, with the University of Georgia the only school from a top-four recruiting state to sign a higher percentage of in-state prospects rated as blue-chippers than the Tigers (and only by 2.4 percentage points).
But where LSU truly shines is in just how many of the high-end local recruits it manages to keep home. Seventy-four of the 156 blue chippers from Louisiana over the last 10 years committed to the Tigers, a rate of 47.4%. No other program retains that level of in-state blue-chip talent, with only Oklahoma and Ohio State able to attract more than 40% of available in-state blue-chip recruits, albeit in states with lesser talent bases than Louisiana.
And when only five stars are examined, LSU fares even better in the analysis. Twelve of the 15 five-star recruits to come out of Louisiana since 2014 signed with the Tigers, a whopping 80%. Among other programs in states that produced at least five five-star recruits over that span, only Ohio State and Alabama brought in even over 50% of the in-state five-stars available to them.
Additionally, the top-ranked recruit in Louisiana has signed with LSU out of high school in nine of the last 11 cycles, while the No. 2 recruit in the state has done the same (though LSU signed both the first and second-ranked recruit in Louisiana in the same class only seven times over those 11 years). With the No. 1 prospect in Louisiana from the Class of 2022, Aaron Anderson, transferring in from Alabama this offseason, Arch Manning will become the first top player from the state to not suit up for the Tigers since Landon Collins all the way back in the Class of 2012 (assuming he does not transfer to LSU later).
LSU Recruits State Players in Top 25
While frequently landing the top prospects in the state provides a key boost to the top end of the roster, LSU has cultivated its depth of talent by largely ignoring players ranked outside of the top 25 in Louisiana. Of its 110 in-state commitments since 2014, only 15 were not considered top 25 prospects in the state, and just six ranked outside the top 50. However, in a testament to the Tigers’ evaluation and development skill, three of those six non-top 50 Louisiana recruits ended up making it to the NFL (Justin Jefferson, Foster Moreau, and Lloyd Cushenberry).
Given these trends, it should come as little surprise that 13 of the 22 starters on LSU’s undefeated 2019 national championship team, including luminaries such as Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Derek Stingley Jr. and Patrick Queen, came from Louisiana. All have been key factors for BetMGM Louisiana Sportsbook and other top sportsbook wagers.
When the Tigers do venture out of state to recruit, their efforts are typically concentrated on the rest of the Southeast, with the program generally only leaving the region to pursue a select few blue-chippers. 87.6% of LSU’s recruits over the last 10 cycles matriculated from one of six states: Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, or Alabama, with no other state sending more than three prospects to Baton Rouge in that span. Of the 29 players LSU recruited from outside those six states, 16 rated as four stars while four were regarded as five stars.
Still, the Tigers’ best recruiting efforts remain in Louisiana, which does not appear to be changing anytime soon. LSU currently has commitments from 10 in-state prospects in the Class of 2024, including six of the top 11 players in Louisiana, with 100% of the crystal balls forecasting three other recruits in the state’s top 11 to the Tigers.
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