LSU is happy to not have to find out if change is good. It kept coach Les Miles amid flirtations from Michigan, won the national title and never let up when it came to recruiting.
|With Les Miles sticking around, LSU will be rewarded with a solid 2008 recruiting class. (Getty Images)|
Other top programs, and some big names in coaching, didn't have it that easy.
With players switching allegiances more than ever, holding a class together can be hard even in the best of times. It gets extra slippery when the coach is changed a month or two before Signing Day.
Here's a look at how the national champs cruised while five other programs scrambled to put together the pieces in advance of Wednesday's Signing Day:
While LSU was preparing for the BCS title game, it had already done much of the heavy lifting with its recruiting class. The Tigers did a great job early, weathered the rumors of Miles leaving for Michigan and used their roll from the win over Ohio State to make a further push toward a top-five recruiting ranking.
The class has great depth, especially on defense, with a group that should be as good as any in the SEC -- that's saying something.
Five-star cornerback Patrick Johnson, rated the No. 1 corner in the country by Rivals.com, committed to LSU just a couple of days before the title game. Miles lured Johnson from Pompano Beach, Fla. Not easy to get a player of this magnitude away from the Gators, Hurricanes and Seminoles. In fact, he originally committed to Miami.
Miles also landed five-star receiver DeAngelo Benton, a speedster from Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., who could make an immediate impact.
In late January, Miles added to the class with home-state defensive lineman Lavar Edwards, who also was considering Oklahoma and Alabama. Defensive end Chancey Aghayere and three tight ends in the top 25 at the position are other headliners. LSU's final recruiting ranking will depend on how it does in the final hours of the ongoing chase to sign offensive lineman Antoine McClain from Alabama and running back Jermaine Thomas from Florida.
When Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan, a mostly new staff had a lot of work to do. For example, the best player in the state -- offensive lineman Josh Jenkins -- reopened his recruitment and was still undecided as of early Monday.
New coach Bill Stewart's inaugural recruiting haul is not going to be labeled anything near a top 25 class. That, however, is not surprising. West Virginia seldom has elite classes but traditionally looks for -- and finds -- a specific kind of athlete that fits the system, no matter the star rating.
Remember that Steve Slaton was famously spurned by Maryland, and LSU wanted Pat White more as a receiver than as a quarterback. Those guys had a lot to do with the Mountaineers' three straight finishes in the top 10 on the field though not in the recruiting rankings.