BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) -
The momentum started last summer landing Derek Stingley, continued with a strong regular season, and finished with a Tigers win in the Fiesta Bowl, all of which played a big role in pushing LSU to a top five finish with their class of 2019.
"It's what you did for me lately," says head coach Ed Orgeron. "Everybody forgets about December. But we know that we have an outstanding class -- a handpicked class by us. I've gotten used to the early signing period. I think it's outstanding. Now that we had 19 sign, we could focus on the guys we had to focus on and also start junior (college) recruiting."
However, rankings won't mean much in the fall without results. And especially coming off of a great 2018 season, expectations are up for the Tigers.
"It's what LSU ought to be and even at a higher level," says Orgeron. "Playing in the college football playoffs, competing for national championships, having the best recruiting class in the country, getting great players, that's LSU football. Are we there yet? No. Are we getting close? Yes."
An underrated part of the process this year was LSU's stability at several big positions on offense. Most notable was returning their starting quarterback, which gave them a little more freedom on the recruiting trail.
“It feels like you’re not in an emergency,” says Orgeron. “I felt like we could take the best player available out there.”
And while it's most important that the Tigers continue to dominate Louisiana, where the landed eight of the top 10 players in the state, and grab elite prospects out of southern states like Texas, Florida and Alabama, coach Orgeron's also managed to expand their reach and pull athletes from Utah, Michigan and Arizona in the 2019 class and has his eyes set on everywhere from the Washington D.C. - Baltimore area to California in 2020.
"They watch us on TV all the time, love the Tigers, love Tiger Stadium and DBU," says Orgeron. "They see all of our great players playing in the NFL. The SEC and the SEC is where they want to come. That's what they're telling me."
But again, the top priority is to continue winning and appearing in New Years Six Bowl games, and they certainly took a step in that direction on Wednesday.