DE Jamari Barrow and SS Terrence Burnett at LSU's high school football camp in June 2022
Another year, another top 5 incoming class for the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. While 2023 marks three top 5 classes in the past three seasons, the 2023 set itself apart from other LSU classes by being the first ever #1 overall class. The Tigers signed 19 incoming Freshmen and 2 Junior College transfers on Wednesday all but two of which are expected to have Pro potential. While the Tigers have struggled on the field for the second consecutive season, many of the incoming players claim the amassed talent in Baton Rouge and the potential to compete for championships in the coming seasons as a primary reason for joining the Tigers.
Total Recruits - 21
Players 4.0 potential or better - 18
Overall Class Rank - 1st
SEC Class Rank - 1st
QB Bryce McDaniel 6-3 216 Fr Oak Forest Academy (Amite LA) 1.0 of 4.5 [Pocket]
Bryce McDaniel was an early LSU commitment for the 2023 class coming to LSU as the highest rated QB recruit to enroll since Doug Kirby. McDaniel is a big, strong armed QB that will the Tigers hope will be able to take advantage of the athletes at skill positions all across the field that the Tigers have recruited the past couple years. McDaniel announced his commitment to the Tigers while at a camp in Baton Rouge where he and top in-state WR Dwayne Diggs both decided to remain in-state and play for the Tigers.
FB Luca Foley 6-1 229 Fr Donaldsonville (Donaldsonville LA) 1.0 of 4.5 [Pass Blocking]
After back to back seasons signing highly rated in-state running backs the past two seasons, the Tigers focused on signing Luca Foley. Foley is a versatile H-Back that the Tigers will look to use as a versatile blocker that can take advantage of teams when overlooked the rest of the talent on the field.
WR Dwayne Diggs 6-0 159 Fr Northwest (Opelousas LA) 1.0 of 5.0 [Speed]
One of the Tigers’ biggest signings of the 2023 class, wideout Dwayne Diggs, brings elite athleticism to Baton Rouge. Diggs was All-State in track and field and has aspirations to continue as a dual sport athlete in Baton Rouge. He jumps off the field with his speed, acceleration, and vertical leap, but somewhat struggles with his hands and running the best routes. However, the Tigers hope he will provide the perfect complement to 5-star Kelvin Farias who redshirted as a Freshman in 2022 and their other incoming WR Shawntez Calloway.
WR Shawntez Calloway 6-2 216 Fr Metairie Park Country Day (LA) 2.0 of 4.0 [Target]
The lesser known WR in the Tigers’ 2023 class, Calloway is nowhere near the elite talent that Farias or Diggs but embodies everything else you could want from a college wideout. He wont be able to get much separation on athletic defensive backs, but Calloway is execptional at taking advantage of mistakes made by the defense. He excels in identifying small gaps in zone coverage and taking advantage of corners lined up with outside or inside positioning.
OT Jon Welch 6-7 306 Fr St. James (St. James LA) 1.5 of 4.5 [Run Blocking]
A slightly undersized right tackle, John Welch will likely be one of the earliest contributors for this incoming Freshman class. Welch was one of the Tigers’ earliest commits in the 2023 class likely because of the promise of early playing time on a Tiger OL that severely lacks talent at the offensive tackle position. Current RT, Brian Vandyke, will likely slide over to the left side, however rumors suggest that both offensive tackle positions will be an open competition in Summer and Fall camp.
OT Rafael Sheehan 6-5 311 Fr LaSalle (Olla LA) 1.0 of 4.0 [Run Blocking]
The lowest rated OL signed by the Tigers in 2023, Sheehan hopes to take advantage of early playing time available at the tackle spot and seize a starting role early. While many expect Welch and Vandyke to be the starters in the Fall, Sheehan enrolled early and had the opportunity to participate in Spring camp with the team. Additionally, Sheehan fills out his frame slightly better than both of his competitors for a right tackle role, so it shouldn't be a surprise to see him on the field in Week 1.
OG Riley Stark 6-3 316 Fr Franklinton (Franklinton LA) 3.0 of 4.5 [Run Blocking]
Riley Stark is an almost perfect road grader guard that mauls people in the trenches. Known for getting excellent push in the middle of the line, Stark has elevated the Franklinton running game to three 1,000 rushing seasons all lead by three different running backs, none of which play FBS football. Additionally, Stark is an above average pass blocker that hasn't allowed a sack in over two seasons at the high school level.
C Kevin Manley 6-3 286 Fr Horseshoe Bend (Horseshoe Bend ID) 1.0 of 5.0 [Pass Blocking]
Kevin Manley’s journey to Baton Rouge made for one of the best stories of the 2023 class. Initially, the Tigers pursued center Pii Vui from Arkansas for the 2023 class. However, once the Tigers were convinced Vui would be headed to Arkansas, the Tigers began to look around the country to fill their need at center. At the time Manley was considered a strong lean to Washington State and Boise State but remained the only highly rated center uncommitted. The Tigers reached out to Manley who said both WSU and BSU had recently slowed their recruiting of him. The Tigers pulled out the full court press for him over the course of a couple weeks and he became a rare out-of-state commit and the 4th highly rated OL commit for the Tigers’ 2023 class.
DE Jamari Barrow 6-2 252 Fr Little Rock (Little Rock AR) 1.0 of 4.5 [Contain]
Jamari Barrow joined the 2023 LSU class from Arkansas as the first out-of-state recruit to commit. Barrow was heavily recruited by Arkansas to stay in-state but fell in love with Baton Rouge after a mid-season trip. The Tigers got themselves an excellent edge setting DE that does well against the run and keeping the QB in the pocket. Barrow possess an excellent power move and can use it to stop both the inside and outside running game, but he has struggled to get to the passer with his speed move.
DE Zontavius Waller 6-0 266 Fr Farmerville (Farmerville LA) 1.0 of 3.5 [Contain]
Zontavious Waller is not the biggest recruit in the Tigers’ 2023 class but he hopes to fill a very important need. As the Tigers begin their 2023 campaign, Waller will likely be on the two deep at the defensive end position. Expect to see Waller coming in on a rotational basis for a couple snaps a game or for more extended periods late in blow-outs.
DT Dylan Thibodeaux 6-4 302 Fr Landry-Walker (New Orleans LA) 1.5 of 4.5 [1-Gap]
Versatile. A single word to describe Dylan Thibodeaux. Thibodeaux presents the LSU coaching staff the perfect opportunity to play a versatile defensive game as he posseses the quickness to play as a 3 technique DT in a 4-3 and the size to play either a 1 technique in a 4-3 or a 0 technique in a 3-4. While the Tigers traditionally use a 3-4 base, head coach cmcgill loves to mix up the front and will often run one or two down linemen on passing plays. Look for the Tigers to get Thibodeaux involved early even if he isn’t starting.
ILB Dillon Fontenot 6-4 252 Fr Acadania (Lafayette LA) 1.0 of 4.5 [Mike]
Dillon Fontenot is a big, bad, Mike linebacker. Fontenot plays best as a downhill inside linebacker that hits like a freight train. He excels in identifying plays post-snap and reacting quickly, however, that may be his downfall at the next level. In high school he has made up for issues identifying plays pre-snap with his quick reads, but LSU hopes 2022 5-star OLB Cameron Morgan can take most of the pre-snap reads for the defense. Additionally, he is very stiff in the hips so speedy RBs could take advantage if they get the edge quickly.
OLB Garrett Christiansen 6-0 238 Fr Eunice (Eunice LA) 1.0 of 4.0 [Blitz]
Joining former teammate and star redshirt freshman Jack linebacker Leonard England in Baton Rouge will be Garrett Christiansen. While Christiansen and England were a couple years apart at Eunice High School, Christiansen credits his former teammate with his development as a pass rusher. While Christiansen was a relatively late recruit to commit to the Tigers, he said he wanted to be sure he’d have chance to compete once England goes to the NFL.
CB Dillon Franklin 6-2 198 Fr Archbishop Rummel (Metairie LA) 1.0 of 4.0 [Man Coverage]
In a somewhat surprising move, the Tigers only cornerback in the 2023 class is Dillon Franklin. While Franklin’s reputation as a strong press corner that loves to get physical at the line of scrimmage very much fits with the Tiger defense’s usual style of play, the Tigers signed two highly rated zone corners last year. Franklin, as far as we can tell, has never played more than 10% of snaps in a zone defense, but will likely have to adjust to fit in with Samir Martin, the Tigers’ 2022 5-star corner.
FS D'Andre Brown 6-0 183 Fr Carroll (Monroe LA) 1.0 of 4.5 [Zone Coverage]
D’Andre Brown is somewhat of a tweener free safety that loves to play as a rover over the top of the defense but is a little smaller than would be ideal. However, there are very few teams with the talent on defense that would allow Brown the free range to play his personal style. Since committing, Brown has publicly stated since committing that at no point during his recruitment did the LSU coaching staff have any hesitation about his fit into the defense and that played a huge role in his decision to commit and join a roster loaded with talent.
FS Caleb Hassan 5-10 181 Fr Tallulah (Tallulah LA) 1.0 of 3.0 [Zone Coverage]
Hassan comes to Baton Rouge with many of the same flaws as Brown without the same level of upside. Hassan is great at lining up a defense which he has relied on a lot in high school to help make up for his lack of athleticism. While Hassan’s skills don’t translate exceptionally well to the SEC, he hopes to use his time in Baton Rouge to learn from the coaching staff and become a coach one day himself.
SS Terrence Burnett 5-11 188 Fr Franklinton (Franklinton LA) 1.0 of 5.0 [Man Coverage]
Burnett became the third 5-star commit from Franklinton HS to come to Baton Rouge in three years when he joined 2023 OG Riley Stark and 2022 CB Samir Martin. The trio have all said they have remained in contact since Samir left for LSU last year and that he played a big role in LSU recruiting both Stark and Burnett. Another player with some scheme concerns to anyone on the outside of the program, but you would never know that from talking with the LSU coaching staff who rave about his leadership qualities and punishing hits.
K Alexander LeRoux 5-11 170 Fr Westminster Academy (Opelousas LA) 1.0 of 5.0 [Accuracy]
Considered potentially the best kicker coming out of high school in 2023, Alexander LeRoux, is a two sport high school All-American. In addition to not missing a single kick in his Junior and Senior years of high school football, he was also an all-star left winger for his high school soccer team. LeRoux chose football over soccer at the collegiate level knowing that LSU doesn’t have a varsity men’s soccer team. When asked about the decision, LeRoux claimed he wanted to focus on a single sport in college and that he was “equal parts football fan and football fan.”
Junior College Transfers
QB Dontarrious Foster 6-0 219 Jr Navarro College (Corsicana TX) 3.5 of 4.5 [Hybrid]
Dontarius Foster joins the Tigers after spending two years at Navarro College in Corsicana Texas. Foster was a one time verbal commit to UTEP coming out of high school but was unable to qualify academically. After graduating from Navarro College early in the Fall considered the Miners but decided to commit to LSU where his mother was a track and field athlete in the late 90’s. Foster comes to Baton Rouge considered the favorite to start at QB in 2023 and 2024 after incumbent QB, Jamel Woodson, struggled in 2022.
C Julio Vargas-Cano 6-1 267 Sr Hillsborough Community College (Tampa FL) 4.5 of 4.5 [Pass Blocking]
Julio Vargas-Cano electing to come to Baton Rouge was considered a surprise by many. Vargas-Cano will only have a single year of eligibility at the start of the 2023 season and is not considered an obvious upgrade the the Tigers current starting center, Anthony Akers, who will also be a senior in 2023. While Vargas-Cano may redshirt in the 2023 season and start in 2024, the Tigers’ upcoming 5-star freshman may beat him out in 2024 as well. However, when asked about the depth at the center position in Baton Rouge, Vargas-Cano said all he wanted was to have a fair shot at starting for a team with championship aspirations, and the Tigers seem to fit the bill.